The UNESCO-ICOMOS Documentation Centre specializes in the built heritage, its conservation and restoration, and historic monuments and sites with :

  • 40.000 titles concerning most countries in the world
  • 400 periodicals received regularly by exchange
  • 25.000 slides, photographs, and plans
  • The original nomination files of World Heritage sites and monuments

The specialised bibliographical collections include :

  • archaeology
  • conservation and restoration techniques
  • cultural landscapes
  • cultural routes
  • cultural tourism
  • earthen architecture
  • historic gardens and parks
  • historic towns and villages
  • industrial heritage
  • inventories
  • legislation
  • monuments in seismic areas
  • photogrammetry
  • risk preparedness and heritage at risk
  • rock art
  • stone and other building materials
  • town planning
  • training
  • underwater heritage
  • vernacular architecture
  • wooden architecture
  • world heritage monuments and sites
  • etc

- Characteristics of the collections

  • Specificity : the collection's special field was set out in the ICOMOS Statutes, which provide for a collection concerning the "principles, techniques and policies for the conservation of monuments".
  • International Character : the collection is made up of donations coming from the more than one hundred National Committees and twenty International Scientific Committees of ICOMOS, whose 6600 individual and institutional members represent all the continents. At the same time the expansion of the collection is aided by ICOMOS ties with UNESCO, with regional organizations such as the Council of Europe, and also with numerous national organizations. Thanks to the diversity of these sources, the Centre has a genuinely international character.
  • Originality : because of the diversity of the sources and the particular relationship that ICOMOS has with specialists in conservation, and thanks to the exchanges with specialized institutions, the Documentation Centre contains many works that otherwise are not easy to come by: expert mission reports, proceedings of symposia, conservation laws, cultural heritage inventories, etc.
    All the documents are included on the ICOMOS database.

- Original archives of the world heritage sites and monuments

The UNESCO-ICOMOS Documentation Centre is the primary repository for the original documentation of the cultural properties and mixed (natural and cultural) properties that have been inscribed on the World Heritage List since 1978. These documents constitute its most important collection.

ICOMOS is named in the 1972 UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (the World Heritage Convention) as one of the three advisory bodies, with IUCN and ICCROM, to the World Heritage Committee. It is the professional and scientific advisor to the Committee on all aspects of the cultural heritage.

As such, ICOMOS is responsible for the evaluation of all nominations made to the World Heritage List by States Parties to the Convention against the criteria of outstanding universal value, authenticity, management, and conservation laid down by the World Heritage Committee. This involves consultation of the wide range of expertise represented by its membership and its National and International Committees, as well as the many other specialist networks with which it is linked. Expert missions are also sent to carry out on-site evaluations. This extensive consultation results in the preparation of detailed recommendations that are submitted to the World Heritage Committee at its annual meetings.

Once a cultural property has been included on the World Heritage List, the UNESCO-ICOMOS Documentation Centre keeps the files and makes them available for consultation in situ and on the database. All these nomination files and the associated documentation, which is in many cases very comprehensive, constitute by themselves the most important collection of the Centre.

Each nomination file contains the following items:

1. Documentation and information provided by the States Parties :

  • Description and identification of the property
  • Justification for inscription
  • Management: legal status, protective measures, site management plan, visitor facilities, etc.
  • Factors affecting the site
  • Monitoring: key indicators for measuring state of conservation, administrative arrangements for monitoring property
  • Documentation:
      - photographs, slides and, where available, film/video/CD-ROM;
      copies of site management plans, legislation, and other legal instruments;
      - cartographic material, measured drawings, etc;
      - bibliography.
  • And the ICOMOS evaluation reports (The ICOMOS expert’s reports are not available)
At the present time, the UNESCO-ICOMOS Documentation Centre keeps the files on 502 cultural and mixed sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, and every year this collection grows with the dossiers of the newly inscribed sites (around 30-40).

2. Presentation of World Heritage Archives
sn a number of occasions throughout the year for presentations to ICOMOS Committees (usually at the Paris headquarters), to international meetings in Paris and elsewhere in the world, and for small study and teaching groups.