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Final Statement : Conference of the Lebanese Library Association (LLA)

Final statement

The sixth conference of the Lebanese Library Association on “Libraries and the Digital Preservation of Cultural Heritage” concluded in ESCWA, Beirut, on Thursday, May 16, 2024 at 4 pm. The conference was a scientific event with social aspect in which colleagues in the Library Association met each other after a long absence because of the Covid crisis. But the meeting taking place in Lebanon, the small country, with its area was also an occasion to show cases that Lebanon is rich in individual activities and initiatives despite crises and wars.
This conference was also an opportunity for colleagues and experts from Arab and foreign countries to exchange experiences related to the progress made in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), especially in the field of optical character recognition (OCR) of handwritten texts and in Arabic manuscripts in some of their fonts, in addition to the experiences of long-term digital preservation that some institutions do it in a standardized method, which invites them to transfer their experiences to other institutions that are still searching for the correct and standard ways to preserve their cultural heritage stored in their warehouses and shelves.
This conference was also an opportunity for the new generation of librarians who were yesterday’s students and have become today’s colleagues to learn about the subject of digital preservation.
The President of the Association, Basma Chebani, met with Mr. Mounir Tabet, Executive Assistant Secretary of ESCWA, within the framework of his meeting with representatives from the International Federation of Libraries and Institutions (IFLA Middle East and North Africa), the partner of the conference. This meeting was an opportunity to thank ESCWA for the generous hosting and contribution to the conference and for the logistical assistance in organizing the conference, and it was an occasion to renew cooperation in upcoming conferences. The coordination will be certainly done with the Director of the ESCWA Library, Dr. Muhammad Zuhair Bakleh who was a member of the Scientific Committee of the conference.
The Lebanese Library Association hopes that attendees will continue to follow the activities carried out by the Association’s members in the field of digital preservation of cultural heritage, and that the conference will not be just a passing station for talking and highlighting the experiences of their institutions, but rather an occasion for enriching national experiences and integrating the standard technical processes that allow the provision of digital content resulting from these activities.
The Association also hopes that public and private libraries and archival institutions will participate in submitting grant applications for the Endangered Archives Program (EAP), which is sponsored by the British Library in order to save old archives or to preserve modern archives through ARCADIA Project that may be at risk of extinction due to natural disasters and wars, through the University Libraries of the American University of Beirut which is the Hub of EAP in MENA Region for the British Library’s project for digitizing and preserving archives at risk.
As a result of identifying this large number of researchers in the field of digital preservation, the association hopes to build a database of experts in the field of libraries and information technology, and to conduct qualifying training courses in partnership with institutions that have completed successful and standard projects.
The President of the Association honored her old professors at the Faculty of Information at the Lebanese University, and distributed trophy of appreciation to Dr. Maud Stephan, who gave a speech on the occasion, and Professor Ahmed Taleb, who appeared via Zoom to greet the conference participants and to deliver a speech on the occasion as well.
The Association also distributed shields of appreciation to two of the Association’s members, Ms. Rudaynah Shujaa, Secretary of the Association, and Ms. Fadia Khairallah, in appreciation of their great efforts in serving the Association, which was established in 1960.
The video of the conference sessions will be posted next week on the website of the Lebanese Library Association.

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