The Heritage and Libraries domain consists of four core sub-domains: Archives, Libraries, Cultural Heritage, and Natural Heritage. A significant principle behind the services undertaken by heritage institutions is to collect, document, conserve and exhibit collections in order to explain human development, encourage further research and support creative experience. As with the other domains, digital content (now gaining ground in Malawi), such as virtual museums, libraries or archives, are categorized with their ‘real-life’ counterparts in Heritage and Libraries, rather than in a separate digital category.
Archives are any type of heritage establishments that house archival collections and provide archival services. Archival collections can consist of private and government manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings, videos, films, maps, microfilm, electronic and other types of original historic records collected, documented, preserved, managed, and conserved by institutions entrusted with their care. In Malawi there are many archives but only one public archive the National Archives. For more details see the database.
Libraries, both physical and virtual, are establishments that house published print, microfilm and electronic publications as well as related unpublished originals, such as theses, single copies of manuscripts, pre-published works, etc. Libraries provide reference and/or borrowing services to users, as well as playing a pivotal role in the collection, classification, preservation, and conservation of library materials.
Cultural Heritage focuses on the identification, documentation, and preservation/conservation of artifacts, buildings, monuments, engineering works, and sites that have value of historic, culture, aesthetic, scientific, or social significance (UNESCO-UIS 2009, p. 25). Cultural heritage institutions include:
Museums, including art museums, public art galleries, museums of human heritage, planetaria, science centres, and virtual museums. A museum can be defined as any “…permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment” (ICOM 2004).
Historic sites and buildings, including archaeological sites. Historic sites and buildings can be found in almost any setting and can range in size from a single building to works that span great distances. They may also still be in use today for a variety of purposes, including commerce, habitation, and leisure. To be included, a historic site or building should be listed in a register of places of historic significance. The Antiquities/Monuments Division of the Museums and Monuments Department maintains the register of such sites in Malawi.
Natural Heritage consists of services that encompass the management, description and interpretation of natural, botanical, and zoological sites, which are of outstanding universal value with historic, aesthetic, scientific, environmental, or social significance. The Natural Heritage sub-domain includes nature parks and reserves, zoos, aquaria and botanical gardens such as Lake Malawi national Park