THE 4TH MEETING OF THE HEADS OF THE ECO NATIONAL LIBRARIES
November 27-29, 2017
Statement by H.E. Dr. Mohammad Mehdi MAZAHERI, President of the ECO Cultural Institute
Human society encompasses human beings and human heritage, and culture is the product of interaction between humans in the environment that has continuously evolved. This evolution is owing to the modern communications and the information revolution, which has transformed the traditional ways of disseminating cultural information and has promoted the level of cultural interactions among different nations.
Culture as a national heritage represents all the values and means by which we, humans, have sought to adapt the environment to the demands of libertarianism and human wisdom, thereby expanding our lives and communication with the surrounding world in a more dynamic manner.
In this regard, one of the means contributing to cultural interactions between countries is book and libraries. By providing their services, resources, and products, libraries have crossed the boundaries between cultures through new communication channels, and have transmitted different ideas to a wider audience. Different nations' familiarity with each other's thoughts and ideas leads to their cultural development and further cultural closeness. On the other hand, countries in a given region, having common factors including similar climate, geography, language, and race, share cultural commonalities which promote cultural convergence.
Awareness of these cultural commonalities and their prominent role in political and economic interactions, the ECO Member States have provided a window for each other on their indigenous culture and arts to take more effective steps toward preserving what is called the common cultural heritage.
in this regard, with the objective of fostering and promoting closer association and cooperation among the people of the region, the ECO cultural Institute came into existence to develop initiatives in preservation of the common cultural heritage of the Member States and promote further understanding amongst the people of the Region; focusing on literature, folklore, traditional music, national customs, tourism, archeology, anthropology and fine arts of the Member States.
Establishing network connection among cultural centers, national libraries, archives and museums of the region to preserve the rich common cultural heritage of the region is among the Institute's objectives. To this end, since its inception, the Institute has always welcomed and put on the agenda the programs for inscribing the cultural commonalities of the region in the UNESCO's World Heritage List, training programs for scholars in restoration and immunization of the old books and manuscripts, exchange of experience between the scholars from the Member States in areas of academia, publications to present the region's culture, utilizing media, holding exhibitions of photography, painting, calligraphy and so on, exchange of artworks and related databases and holding conferences and seminars to present history, arts and culture of the region.
To promote the cultural standing of the region, ECO Cultural Institute made great efforts to convene the 4th meeting of the Heads of the ECO National Libraries, in partnership with Iran's National Library and Archives, hosted by the National Library of Tajikistan. The event is a milestone, organized by the ECO Cultural Institute after a seven-year pause. The meeting gathers the heads of the ECO national libraries to exchanges views on the most important shared concerns of librarianship, publishing information and preserving the written heritage of the region to develop new channels of cooperation in relationship of libraries and cultural exchanges across the region.
Also, following the 4th meeting of the Heads of the ECO National Libraries, the first meeting of the Heads of the ECO Encyclopedia Centers, the first meeting of the Heads of the ECO Universities and the second meeting of the Heads of the ECO Art Universities will be convened by the ECO Cultural Institute in the near future.
In the belief that whenever the conditions in a society have been favorable to promotion of the libraries, that society has gone through the steps toward progress and advancement, and whenever libraries, for any reason, are in isolation and neglected, the society has begun to regress, the ECO Cultural Institute, as an international organization is committed to supporting libraries as resources of human knowledge and cultural heritage and prepares the ground for promotion of such institutions which provide services to meet the spiritual demands of mankind.
Considering the role of books and reading in the face of the advancement of cyberspace, As the President of an international cultural institute, I believe that it is a great pity that our children have abandoned reading books. In order to increase reading per capita in the ECO countries, I propose that the year 2018 be proclaimed as "Year of Reading Culture" in the ECO region, and welcome the new year with the idea that every person may spend 20 minutes a day for reading.
Every year, a great deal of theses and dissertations is compiled in bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at the universities and research institutes of the member states, I propose that the Secretariat of the ECO National Libraries which was founded by the support of the ECO Cultural Institute may establish ECO database of dissertations to provide access to researchers and research centers.
ECO HERITAGE, is a research-based quarterly of the ECO Cultural Institute which is planned to focus on the capacities and achievements of the national libraries of the ECO member states in its upcoming issue. The distinguished heads of the libraries are requested to kindly contribute to the content of the magazine.
Aiming at preserving the written heritage of the region, ECO Cultural Institute welcomes the proposals by the distinguished delegations for publishing valuable books on common cultural heritage of the region, holding expert panels with the participation of cultural authorities and joint programs on arts and culture of the member states.
In conclusion, I would like to extend my gratitude to the National Library of the Republic of Tajikistan for hosting such important event, to the National Library and Archives of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its cooperation and to the distinguished heads of the ECO national libraries for their participation and contribution. I hope the decisions of this meeting will contribute to the regional integration.