Sunday, January 23, 2011

Call for nominations: UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize

UNESCO is inviting nominations for the fourth award of the UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize. This invitation is extended to all Member States, in consultation with their National Commissions, as well as to international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) maintaining official relations with UNESCO and whose work is in the field of preservation and conservation of documentary heritage.

The Economist on January 13 published an appreciation of Gene Smith who died in December, 2010. Tibetan monasteries had collected manuscripts over some 1500 years, until the Chinese occupation of Tibet when monasteries "were ransacked and destroyed. Not only books were burned, but also the carved wooden blocks from which they were printed. Fleeing Tibetans tried to save the texts" as they sought asylum in other countries, but many were lost; the rest were disbursed widely in the places of sanctuary.
Over five decades, Mr Smith made it his business to put Tibetan literature back together. He did it more or less single-handedly, fired by his love of the language and the culture and aided by a brain that rapidly became an encyclopedia of lineages, sutras, lives of lamas, and the history and ownership of every book he came across......

Armed only with fistfuls of rupees and with letters of introduction from his Tibetan teacher, Deshung Rinpoche, to various lamas, he trawled through Indian libraries and then travelled into the hills. There, though still fearful of exposing their treasures, exiled Tibetan monks showed him the texts they had; and, with the money he gave them, printed more. In the end the PL480 programme saved 8,000 books, each of which was printed in 20 or so copies for American centres of research.....

In 1999 Mr Smith set up the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Centre, first in Boston and then in New York, and set about putting his 12,000-volume collection, the largest anywhere, online. By his death he and his team had scanned 7m pages of text and had made CDs of files, such as the 110-volume kangyur, or teachings of the Buddha, which were too huge to download. As for the books themselves, he left them to a university in China: the place where, despite everything, he felt Tibetan Buddhism would eventually flourish again.
Perhaps Mr. Smith merits a posthumous award of the Jikji Memory of the World Prize.

Friday, January 21, 2011

UNESCO: Enhancing flood management in Pakistan

© UN Photo/Evan Schneider - 
A view of heavy flooding caused by monsoon 
rains in Punjab Province, Pakistan (2010)
Last July’s catastrophic floods in Pakistan underlined the country’s need to better understand, predict and manage hydrological extremes – floods and droughts. To help strengthen Pakistan’s capacities, UNESCO is organizing a workshop at the National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST) in Islamabad from 24 to 26 January.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

International Year of Chemistry 2011

Irina Bokova's, Director General of UNESCO, video message for the Opening of the International Year of Chemistry (IYC) 2011.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Official International Launch Ceremony for IYC 2011 will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 27-28 January 2011. The agenda includes an international seminar, an exhibition, and other related social and cultural events.

2011 -- The International Year of Forests

Preparations for the observance of Forests 2011 are taking place at the national, regional and international levels.

To celebrate Forests 2011, the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat (UNFFS) is working in collaboration with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival to organise the International Forest Film Festival (IFFF).

IFFF winning films will be presented to delegates of all 192 countries at the launch of the International Year of Forests 2011 at United Nations Headquarters, New York in February, 2011. The launch of the International Year will take place as part of the official program of the ninth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF). Subsequently, the winning films will also be screened around the world.

The International Forest Film Festival aims to raise awareness on the importance of forests, their relationship with people and the planet we share, and consequently, to inspire a sense of personal responsibility/stewardship for a greener, more equitable, sustainable future.

It's the International Year of Youth (IYY)!

The new edition of A World of Science is out

Vol. 9, No. 1
January–March 2011

In focus
     Where would we be without chemistry?

  • engineer shortage a threat to development, says report
  • earthquake monitoring stations for nepal
  • the best weapon against cancer: a healthy lifestyle
  • experts advocate geoengineering research programme
  • Groundwater to alleviate iraq’s water shortages
  • ten medals in nanoscience and nanotechnologies
  • eleven sites added to Global Geoparks network
  • Countries sign up for nagoya Biodiversity Compact
  • experts call for assessment of microplastics in oceans


     Jean-Christophe Balouet investigates an environmental crime


  • science without borders
  • Biodiversity in a kit

In BrIef

  • Diary
  • new releases

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Editorial: The United States should support the the Arnold Schönberg Estate for Memory of the World

Schönberg Hall at UCLA

The Government of Austria has proposed the Arnold Schönberg estate for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register for 2011. I strongly recommend that the United States Government join with Austria in sponsoring this action. Arnold Schönberg sought refuge from the Nazi government by moving to the United States in the 1930s. He lived in Los Angeles from 1934 until his death in 1951. He taught at both the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Southern California. He had an great influence on many composers worldwide, but notably during his time in the United States he taught and influenced many American composers.

Each of the universities named the building housing its music department after him. There exists an archive of materials related to his time in the United States at UCLA, and an archive of his correspondence at the Library of Congress. The major archive of his work was housed at the University of Southern California for a quarter of a century before the Arnold Schönberg family moved it to the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna. The U.S.C. library in its history of the archive states:
During its 25-year existence, the Institute Archive supported the research of thousands of researchers and scholars--hosting an average of 86 on-site researchers per year (whose average stay was 3 days each), and responding to more than 570 off-site requests for information per year (about 200 letters, 150 telephone inquiries, 90 faxes, and 140 e-mails). The Archive also provided hundreds of thousands of pages of photocopies and thousands of photographs (as well as other materials such as books, films, videos, and microfilm) to users over this period of time.
I would recommend that the United States delegation to UNESCO discuss the possibility of a joint sponsorship of the archive with the Austrian delegation, considering adding the archives in the United States to those in Austria for inclusion in the Representative List.

John Daly
The opinion presented in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Americans for UNESCO.