Paris, March 2001

During the last IFLA Symposium "Managing the Preservation of Periodicals and Newspapers" that took place at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, August 2000, the extreme fragility of those publications was highlighted. All the participants from Africa underlined the specific risks threatening their collections and have requested the collaboration of their colleagues to preserve that irreplaceable cultural and historical heritage.

As the Chair of the Symposium Organizing Committee and Director of the IFLA Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Core Programme I proposed to launch a survey throughout Africa and in the framework of JICPA (Joint IFLA/ICA Committee on Preservation in Africa) in order to assess the state of preservation of newspapers and periodicals collections of national interest within the main institutions (archives or libraries).

Our purpose is not to launch one more survey but first to try and make the inventory of the main titles owned by each institution and to find out missing issues. After gathering the answers we will be able to see whether another institution preserves the same title(s) and is susceptible to fill in the gaps by producing duplicates (microfilms or CD-ROMs).

A data base of existing titles indicating whether they are available should then be established. In the long-term it is expected to duplicate whole collections so as to facilitate their dissemination and communication.

It is obvious that this ambitious enterprise will require specific funding but we first need to get it started and check the feasibility of the project and the commitment of future partners: this is why I am sending you this questionnaire. I would appreciate if you could fill it in and send it back no later than July 15, 2001 because we would like to present the results of the survey during the next IFLA Conference in Boston, August 2001.

I thank you in advance for your precious co-operation.

Marie-Thérèse VARLAMOFF
IFLA PAC Director