Library and Archives Canada, University of Toronto Libraries, and Canadian Commission for UNESCO applaud addition of Marshall McLuhan documents to Memory of the World Register

News Release

November 1, 2017, Toronto—It is with great enthusiasm that Library and Archives Canada (LAC), the University of Toronto Libraries (UTL), and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO) today welcomed news that the documentary heritage of Marshall McLuhan has been accepted for inclusion in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s prestigious Memory of the World Register.

The nomination for the inclusion of Marshall McLuhan’s legacy into the Memory of the World Register was made jointly by LAC and UTL with the support of CCUNESCO. The documentary heritage that will become part of the Memory of the World is comprised of his archival collection preserved at LAC and his research library held at UTL. Dating from the time of McLuhan’s undergraduate studies to his death, the documents include a wealth of correspondence and manuscripts of writings: books, articles, essays, and lectures.

A native of Edmonton and a longtime professor at the University of Toronto, Marshall McLuhan was a highly influential Canadian public intellectual and cultural theorist, as evidenced by expressions he introduced—“the global village” and “the medium is the message”—that are still part of the global communications lexicon to this day. Widely regarded as a “digital prophet” who among other things foresaw the advent of the Internet, the centennial of his birth in 2011 inspired dozens of events in at least 20 countries.

UNESCO’s Memory of the World programme aims to raise awareness on the universal value, and the need to preserve and to give access to valuable archival and library holdings and other related items for posterity. According to UNESCO, the initiative helps safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity against collective amnesia, neglect, the ravages of time and climatic conditions, and willful and deliberate destruction. The Memory of the World also supports the stabilization of at-risk documentary heritage collections, and the enhancement of public access to and knowledge of these materials.

In 2018, the three above organizations plan on holding an event featuring a number of experts to discuss Marshall McLuhan’s legacy, and how it has influenced the world we live in.


Quotes

“Marshall McLuhan’s library, collected over his lifetime of scholarship, reflects his interdisciplinary zeal as he sought out publications from all fields, academic or otherwise. Inscription in the Memory of the World Register recognizes the global significance of McLuhan and the library, which will be preserved in perpetuity by the University of Toronto Libraries.”

- Larry Alford, Chief Librarian, University of Toronto Libraries

“I am very pleased that that for the first time, documents preserved by Library and Archives Canada have been recognized by UNESCO’s Memory of the World. Until now, only four Canadian entries had been admitted to the global registry. The fact that the treasured documentary heritage of Marshall McLuhan is held jointly by LAC and UTL vividly illustrates the close ties between these two institutions that are essential actors in the Canadian documentary heritage field.”

- Dr. Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada

“This addition to the registry is particularly satisfying for us given that Marshall McLuhan’s work has been used time and time again by UNESCO in order to further our understanding of the impact of media on our societies. McLuhan also took an interest in the relationship between what he first referred to as pop culture and matters of identity, one that today has become more readily measurable, and that appears more relevant than ever in the era of fake news.”

- Dr. Christina Cameron, President, Canadian Commission for UNESCO

Quick Facts

  • The Marshall McLuhan archival collection is preserved by LAC, and his research library is held at UTL’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. The two collections are interlinked.

  • Marshall McLuhan’s personal archive and library comprise approximately 50 metres of archival documents in multiple media and 6,000 published items (mainly books), many heavily annotated in his hand.

  • In over half a century after their publication, Marshall McLuhan’s books have sold over one million copies and have been translated into at least 17 languages.

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Contacts

University of Toronto Libraries Media Relations
Lani Krantz
University of Toronto
416-978-0100
media.relations@utoronto.ca

Library and Archives Canada Media Relations
Richard Provencher
Library and Archives Canada
613-994-4589
bac.media.lac@canada.ca

Canadian Commission for UNESCO Media Relations
Angèle Cyr
Senior Advisor, Public Affairs
613-219-1119


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