Library documentation

Library of the National Human Rights Commission of India

Many human rights organisations maintain small documentation centres and libraries which are used by the staff of their organisation, and maybe also by researchers, students, other organisations and the general public. Some documentation centers are physical, some digital, and other hybrid.

Setting up a documentation center involves the following steps:

  • Defining the scope of the collection, the expected users and their needs.
  • Developing and applying rules for cataloguing, indexing and shelf classification.
  • Acquiring a database system for handling the collection and perhaps tracking user loans.
  • Possibly developing a web-based catalogue for online consultations.
  • Planning the physical space and visitors facilities.
  • Human resources recruitment and training.
  • Designing an outreach and promotion strategy.
  • Budgeting and fundraising.

What are we doing?

Training of librarians from Iraq, 2006

HURIDOCS has trained and coached human rights documentalists and librarians from all over the world for over 25 years, providing them with the essential skills to get started or improve their work.

We have also developed a number of tools, which can be found in our Resource Library, including:

  • The Bibliographic Standard Formats, which provide formats, rules and guidelines for classication and cataloguing.
  • The manual What is documentation? provides an introduction to the different types of human rights documentation.
  • The Classification scheme for human rights documentation provides a sample of how to classify human rights documents on a shelving system.
  • Terminology is crucial for professional human rights documentation work. The manual How to index explains how you can develop your own list of index terms.
  • How to record names of persons explains, with many examples, how librarians can best determine how names in various languages should be recorded.
  • The compilation Tools for the Recording and Exchange of Bibliographic Information Concerning Human Rights contains How to record names of persons as well as the HURIDOCS List of index terms, the Geographical terms and codes and the list of Languages.

Action points: next steps

  • Contact us if you need help in setting up or modernizing a documentation center, or archiving and preservation of your records.
  • Discover open source software for managing collections, such as Koha, Greenstone.


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