08 Oct 2013 Press release Sustainable Development Goals

UNEP Begins Digitization of its Publications and Official Documents

Nairobi, 8 October - UNEP's Division of Communication and Public Information (DCPI) has launched a trailblazing new project to digitize the organization's books, reference materials and other publications.

The initiative - among the first of its kind in the UN system - is a collaboration between DCPI, which coordinates UNEP's library and publishing services, and the UN Office at Nairobi print shop, and exemplifies the "working as one" slogan long advocated within the UN. The print shop will be providing technical know-how, while the library will see that the scanned documents are searchable and accessible to staff and researchers worldwide. Some 3,000 books - along with many other publications, some dating back to UNEP's inception in 1972 - will be scanned and archived.

Nick Nuttall, Director of DCPI, said: "The scanning today of a 1984 document on desertification marks a small piece of history-making for UNEP and its archives of reports and publications."

"Recently we took a decision to transform our library here in Nairobi from a physical to a virtual one in order to maximize the benefits, outreach and opportunities to staff, customers and researchers across the globe," he went on. "UNEP's archive, especially reports and publications from the early years of UNEP's history, have to date and in the main been paper-based. Today marks the start of a process to make all this wealth of information available electronically and digitally to people across via the Internet. It will also act to conserve these invaluable and historical documents for generations to come."

"I would like to thank the UN Office at Nairobi at their print shop team for all their help. The scanner is a wonder to behold and rather Heath-Robinson in its operation. Unlike modern electronic machines whose workings are invisible, the scanner has clicking cameras, a powerful fan to blow and separate pages and clips and arms to turn them - it is fascinating to watch," added Mr. Nuttall.

The scanner, a 73-kilo behemoth which can scan up to 2,400 pages per hour, was donated by United Nations Headquarters in New York. A pilot project involving 20 documents of different varieties is currently underway, with the goal of creating a streamlined, customized workflow to digitize UNEP's collection over the next several years.

The scanned documents will be captured as PDFs, then added to the UNEP document repository. Scanning also provides the potential to search the contents of documents and convert them to other user-friendly formats. In the future, they could even be published as e-books.