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Depositary libraries. The National Library of Belarus, the UN depository library

In 1946 the Dag Hammarskjold UN Library founded the system of depositary libraries for the world distribution of documents and publications of the United Nations Organization. At present 352 depositary libraries in 136 countries are recipients of these materials on the following deposit conditions:

  • all appointed depositary libraries must guarantee that the United Nations’ materials received by them are under supervision of qualified library employees, are stored in good condition and are available to visitors free of charge and at convenient time;
  • depositary libraries must provide deposited materials through interlibrary loan or by way of photocopies to users who can’t get to a library they need;
  • depositary libraries, on demand of the Dag Hammarskjold Library, must aid it in bibliography and similar services within the limits of their opportunities, and also supply it with editions they usually distribute free of charge or by exchange;
  • The United Nations can supervise the observance of deposit conditions by means of questionnaires or visiting. The publishing board reserves the right, at the presence of proofs of non- observance of deposit conditions, to deprive a library of its status of depository or to transfer it to another library in the same area.

Selection of depository libraries is under the jurisdiction of the UN Publications Board and is carried out under the recommendation of Director of the Dag Hammarskjold Library and taking into consideration the opinion of local authorities. One of selection criteria is a level of development of libraries and geographic distribution of depository libraries in interested countries.

The UN Publications Board appoints depository libraries for the United Nations’ documents only. Documents published by specialized establishments and other organizations of the UN system are distributed separately by each establishment and organization. Besides, each organization appoints depository libraries for its own documents and editions independently. Applications concerning appointment of a depository library, purchase and exchange of documents, and also subscription to periodicals, are to be sent to a corresponding organization.

The UN member countries as well as not members of the United Nations have the right to one depository library which the national library usually is. In addition the national parliamentary library, if it is open to general public, also has the right to receive free-of-charge editions. Other depository libraries make a symbolical monetary payment to receive the United Nations’ documents.

Librarians and employees of the United Nations information services periodically attend depository libraries, provide assistance and instruction on using the United Nations’ documents and publications. Besides, the Library and United Nations Office in Geneva arrange periodical educational seminars for employees of depository libraries.

In the Republic of Belarus there are two United Nations depository libraries. The National Library of Belarus became the first depository of the United Nations’ publications and documents in December, 1957. The second library that got the status of depository library is the Fundamental Library of the Belarusian State University in Minsk. The United Nations Publications Board gave this status to the library in December, 1998. (See the UN news release PI/1110).

The Dag Hammarskjold UN Library

The Dag Hammarskjold UN Library in New York was created in 1946 as part of the UN Secretariat Department for Public Information. One of its major tasks is distribution of United Nations’ documents and publications among users all over the world by means of the system of depository libraries. These libraries receive the United Nations’ documents which they keep in working condition and provide them to general public.

United Nations Depository Library Programme

United Nations depository libraries directory

United Nations depository libraries activities