The United Nations Depository Libraries System asn an “open community”

The ongoing evolution from a knowledge base to a knowledge network


  • Deborah Grbac Biblioteca d'ateneo, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan



United Nations Depository Library Programme, United Nations Digital Library, United Nations official records, United Nations Open access periodicals


Transition to open access is changing how United Nations Depository Libraries are working to serve local communities (researchers and citizens) in accessing United Nations documents and publications. This transition, in course since 2015, is gradually changing the System of Depository Libraries into a knowledge network. Already during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was possible to see the first signs of this evolution into what can be called a de facto ‘open community’, gathered around open access instruments like the United Nations Digital Library and the sharing of best practices.

Librarians at Depository libraries, who built their own knowledge in spending years in keeping in due order and cataloguing their collection on paper, are now called to improve their skills, to give users new ways to access to documents and publications. The challenge is to keep the paper collection and giving it greater accessibility and discoverability online. In this article we present some projects aiming at making local special collection on paper more “visible” online and more accessible in terms of formats and languages.

Following up to seventy-years of accumulated experience Depository Librarians are now not only owners of a cultural heritage, but promoters of it by the advocacy work they are doing inside and on account of the United Nations System of Depository Libraries.




How to Cite

Grbac, D. (2021). The United Nations Depository Libraries System asn an “open community”: The ongoing evolution from a knowledge base to a knowledge network. Umanistica Digitale, (11), 199–216.