In response to the current global threats to world heritage that call for urgency in developing comprehensive heritage protection strategies, the National and University Library in Zagreb is organising the international conference “Solidarity in culture: Heritage protection under conditions of crisis”, in Zagreb, from 18 to 20 March 2021.
The organizers have recognized the synergetic benefits of the solidarity networks of cultural institutions, yielding the most effective and immediate results in prevention, response and recovery efforts in culture, adding towards the existing general emergency services support.
The aims of the conference are to facilitate understanding and dialogue about new approaches to integrated conservation and risk management based on solidarity and cooperation between diverse partners that provide potential for resilience-building to disasters.
Current crisis conditions: Earthquake in Zagreb and COVID-19 pandemic
Two earthquakes affected Croatia last year – Zagreb on March 22nd (5.5 Richter scale) and Croatia region Banija on December 29th (6.2 Richter scale). They seriously damaged heritage monuments and sites. And this happened while the cultural professionals and general public were faced with the previously unimaginable situation of social isolation caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
These combined crisis factors have caused damage and continue to affect our cultural heritage on multiple levels: protection, preservation and management of heritage, protection of cultural professionals, our visitors and users as well as advocacy of the importance of heritage protection in broad society that currently deals with life threatening situation.
Heritage preservation and protection under conditions of crisis is a system of continuous, integrated and networked activities, information, resources and participants whose goal is to ensure efficient use of all available resources to achieve the highest possible level of heritage protection and institutions’ resilience. One of the most important aspects in this holistic approach is development of intersectoral solidarity network that can be also understood as network of key partners on national level. Intra- and intersectoral cooperation, integrated and broadly conceived approach to heritage protection and conservation and different models of development of solidarity networks on national and international levels are the main focus of conference presentations.
National and University Library in Zagreb and heritage crisis management: past and present
Protection and preservation of library and other heritage material during conditions of crisis have been implemented in daily professional practice in all GLAM communities in Croatia through legislative framework.
The National and University Library in Zagreb strived to set the benchmark in contemporary conservation guidelines’ implementation in practice and to serve as a partner and help provider within the library community. Efforts were made in raising awareness toward importance of crisis management. In 2014 the National and University Library in Zagreb organised an international conference entitled Protection of Cultural Heritage from Natural and Man-made Disasters. From 2017 to 2018 comprehensive risk assessment was made for the National and University Library in Zagreb as the first step toward an integrated approach to managing preservation.
The seminar entitled Protection of Cultural Heritage under Conditions of Crisis which the Library organized in 2019 served as a pilot project to 2021 conference and reached its goal in establishing several open topics and problems that are now positioned as 2021 conference’s main focus. Also, in 2019 the internal collections disaster risk management regulations were formalized. Finally, at the end of 2019 the Library organized education for its employees in order to introduce new crisis management regulations and ensure their implementation. The 2021 international conference Solidarity in Culture: Heritage Protection Under Conditions of Crisis represents continuous efforts to integrate heritage management and new ideas and innovation in disaster risk management from different sectors.
Photographs of earthquake damage in Zagreb featuring on the official website of the conference were provided by Antonia Tikvica, Duje Miliša and Remete Parish.