Archives honoured with UNESCO prize

Media release: Monday, 29 August 2011

The National Archives of Australia has been honoured with an international award from the UNESCO Memory of the World project, to acknowledge its leading role in digital preservation.

Acting Director-General, Dr Stephen Ellis, will this week travel to Cheongju City, South Korea to accept the $30,000 UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize.

The National Archives will use the prize money, donated by the Republic of Korea, to host a conservation student in its work experience program.

In announcing the prize, UNESCO described the National Archives as 'a world leader in many areas, notably that of digital preservation'. The announcement also praised the National Archives for sharing with others 'the fruit of its own research and development by making available open source tools for digital preservation'.

The prize also recognises the National Archives' research into preserving documents written in iron gall ink, which was used in Europe for many centuries but which, over time, can eat into the paper on which it is written.

The prize is named in honour of the Jikji, a Korean Buddhist text printed in 1377 – the oldest surviving book made with movable metal type in the world.

The award ceremony in South Korea is central to a weekend of cultural celebrations, hosted by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Cheongju and the Director of the Cheongju Early Printing Museum.

Dr Ellis will present further information on digital innovations at an academic conference at the museum, highlighting the National Archives' Mapping Our Anzacs website ( which allows public interaction through Web 2.0 technologies.

The Memory of the World Program is UNESCO's primary project to encourage preservation of humanity's documentary heritage. The National Archives of Australia collection holds several items listed on the Memory of the World register, including records of displaced persons from Europe who sought refuge in Australia after World War II and Australia's landmark constitutional documents.

Contact information

  • Elizabeth Masters (Media Officer)
    t (02) 6212 3957 m 0427 853 664 e
  • Melanie Harwood (Assistant Director, Communications)
    t (02) 6212 3755 m 0422 535 213 e
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