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Activity Report 1998 - 2001
The General Secretariat
UNESCO-ICOM Information Centre

The period 1998-2000 was marked by the "migration" of the database to a microcomputer-based system. Within the framework of the decision of the Executive Council to revise the collections, work continued on reviewing and sorting out the contents of geographic and museum files.

Collections of the Centre

Since 1995, the basic task of the Centre has been to collect and keep the publications of ICOM, as well as those of UNESCO relating to cultural heritage and its protection.

The publications of ICOM and its committees, as well as regional and affiliated international organisations, form the majority of the Centre's collections that are kept at the headquarters of ICOM. They also include copies of laws governing the protection of cultural heritage, and publications and documents on topics of specific interest to ICOM, for example, illicit traffic, the return of works, professional ethics and endangered heritage.

As a follow-up to the agreements signed between ICOM and the Direction des musées de France (DMF), and between ICOM and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSBA), the collection of monographs and periodicals of museological interest is now handled by the Documentation Centre of the Direction des musées de France, while the collection of catalogues of temporary exhibitions has been handed over to the ENSBA library. The catalogue of the Documentation Centre of the DMF can be consulted on the web site of the Ministry of Culture and Communications at, under the heading "Documentation/Databases".

At present, the Centre is reviewing the documents contained in the geographical files. Many obsolete documents are being discarded. Indexed catalogues and articles are sent to the Documentation Centre of the Direction des musées de France to complete their already existing collection. The corresponding entries are in the process of being modified. The contents of the thematic files have still to be revised.

Bibliographic Databases of the Centre

Transfer of the database of the Centre

Since its creation in 1981, the Documentation Centres of ICOM and ICOMOS shared the database, which contained bibliographic references indexed by both these Centres. It functioned under the CICS system of UNESCO's centralised computer system. However, UNESCO informed ICOM that for technical reasons, ICOM had to transfer its database to a system managed by microcomputer. In 1999, the consultant responsible for preparing the transfer of the database installed the bibliographic database of the Information Centre on a microcomputer belonging to ICOM, using WINISIS software (ISIS for Windows). The databases of ICOM and ICOMOS are now separate.

The fact that the database now functions on an ICOM microcomputer facilitates the downloading of information and makes it possible to send selective bibliographies to ICOM members, especially through the Word format by electronic mail.

Updating of the database

The database currently contains 44,580 inputs. The Centre updates the database on a regular basis by inserting new acquisitions and amending entries already included. First of all, it is necessary to modify the location code of a document, if it concerns an article or a work that is now in the Documentation Centre of the Direction des musées de France. Secondly, many bibliographic entries originating from the manual catalogue of cards, which was converted in 1989, need to be completed or corrected. There are 23,500 entries that have to be reviewed.


The database of the Centre is included in the CD-ROM entitled Databases of UNESCO, produced and sold by UNESCO. A new version came out in the year 2000.

ICOM Web Site

The Centre provides information on the schedule of meetings for the ICOM web site. In the years to come, it is planned to place at the disposal of people who consult the ICOM web site more documents and information (basic ICOM documents, selective bibliographies on specific themes, links to other sites, etc.), in collaboration with the Communication Service.

Information Services

The reading room is open to the public from Monday to Thursday, between 2 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. Members of ICOM can also consult documents in the mornings, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., provided they request the staff in advance.

Information and advice are also provided by letter, telephone, fax and electronic mail.

Number of visitors (the figure for the year 2001 covers the period up to 21 March 2001):

137 visitors
130 visitors
30 visitors

Letters, faxes and e-mails (the figure for the year 2001 covers the period up to 21 March 2001):

298 replies
320 replies
111 replies

Requests and prompt replies by telephone or on the spot are not included in these figures.


One person is employed on a permanent basis at the Information Centre. During the year 2000, a Swedish intern, Johanna Åfreds, carried out part of her internship in the documentation service, and she started the work of "weeding out" the hanging files. Since January 2001, Johanna Finance has been recruited on a three-month contract to continue this task. This contract has been renewed for an additional period of three months.

Updated: 17 June 2005