Summer interview 2012 – Blandine Blukacz-Louisfert, Chief of the Registry Records and Archives of the UN Library in Geneva

July 2012


What is going on this summer at the Archives of the UN in Geneva?

Lots of things! This summer is particularly busy.

As during every summer for the last few years, we've had a growing influx of researchers from around the world who take advantage of the university holidays to come to do their research in the historical archives of the League of Nations and the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).

The current reading room can only accommodate up to eight people and has become too small. Work is now underway to redevelop one of the reading rooms of the UNOG Library: from August 2nd the new reading room will be able to accommodate 22 researchers. In accordance with the requirements for registration of the League's archives to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register, it will offer much better access to the archives. There will be areas for consulting larger documents and computer work-stations for accessing digital archives, as well as an online research guide that we have just developed.

We are also busy preparing for the next temporary exhibition which will open on September 10th in the League of Nations Museum: "The Spirit of Philanthropy" (a working title). This exhibition will illustrate the importance of the support provided by major philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller Jr., to the core activities of the League of Nations, such as the Health Organization, intellectual and educational cooperation, the development of international law, economic and financial activities, and the construction of the League of Nations Library, which in 1946 became the United Nations Library at Geneva. This exhibition can be explored by the general public during the Open Day organized by UNOG on September 15th, 2012.

Holiday plans?

I will spend three weeks in Turkey in August, two of them in Istanbul, a city for which I have a special affection. Each trip is an opportunity for new cultural, historical and gastronomic discoveries.

What do you take the opportunity to do in Geneva during the summer?

When the weather is good I love to have a picnic or take long walks by the lake. I also go to cultural events, especially the "Musiques en été" festival. I particularly enjoy the "Musiques colorées" concerts in the Pac de la Grange .

Do you have a place you really love, in Geneva or in the surrounding area?

I love going up in the Jura hills to admire the view over Lake Geneva and the Alps. Even after nearly 15 years living in the area it still takes my breath away.

How about a summer book recommendation for our readers?

My name is red by the Turkish Nobel Literature Laureate Orhan Pamuk. An historical epic and detective story at the same time, the plot unfolds in the 16th century court of the Ottoman sultan. This book keeps the reader on the edge of his seat, but is also the pretext for some fascinating reflections on the collision of two very different concepts of art, a spiritual and a social one, between the defenders of tradition on the one hand, and the promoters of modernity on the other. 




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