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UN Photo
UN Photo
Wednesday 6 February 2019

Topics: Events, Resources

When former Secretary-General Kofi Annan completed his 10-year-term at the head of the Organization, he left behind 1,200 boxes of records – a literal flood of memos, letters, and handwritten notes.  Several of his close collaborators, UN Archives staff and a lecturer at City College came together at an event hosted by the Dag Hammarskjöld Library to talk about how those records were brought out into the open.

Gillian Sorensen, former Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations, attributed his desire to make his records available to the public as early as possible to Annan’s “keen sense of history”.

Stephen Haufek, Chief of the Archives Unit, described the painstaking process of selecting records for declassification and making them available online through the UN Archives website. The project took 2 years to complete and involved archivists and staff from the United Nations Executive Office of the Secretary-General. Richard Amdur, currently Deputy Director of Communications and Speechwriting, described it as “lonely work and Sisyphean labor that was also fascinating”.  As a result, 80% of Annan’s records are now available online for public consultation.

These declassified records served as a key resource for Jean Krasno, lecturer at The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at City College of New York, and CCNY librarians to curate a digital platform about Kofi Annan targeted at scholars and the general public. All speakers highlighted that the papers offered deep insights into Annan’s inclusive leadership style. 

Their presentations were accompanied by a display of biographies and relevant materials from the Dag Hammarskjöld Library’s collections. 

To find out more, explore the UN Archives Kofi Annan collection, the City College of New York’s selected papers of Kofi Annan, the UN Oral History Collection, and the Library's Research Guide on the former Secretary-General.  

Second Floor Reading Room
Second Floor Reading Room (UN Photo)
Thursday 1 March 2018

Topics: Learning, Resources

The Second Floor Reading Room has gone through many transformations since 1961. For decades it was called the Woodrow Wilson Reading Room because it housed the U.S. president’s papers about the League of Nations.  Until 2008, it operated as the UN reference collection for the Library and contained the most consulted UN documents and publications.  It was closed in 2008 to accommodate the media outlets covering the UN during the Capital Master Plan. Construction damaged the ceiling and made it necessary to refurbish the room before it could be used.  It reopened in November 2016 and has been designated as a silent study space primarily for delegates and UN staff.

The Dag Hammarskjold Library was dedicated to the second Secretary-General after his death in 1961. At the time, the Library Building was written up in architectural magazines which described the room in glowing detail:

“All is movement in the slope of the wall and undulating ceiling [of the Reading Room]. The informal planking of the Idaho white pine ceiling and wall contrasts with the dark African wenge wood of the card catalog which follows the sloping line of the wall. The end walls are of Peruvian travertine…” Interiors Magazine, 1963

With the coming of modern information systems, the card catalog is now empty but the room is filled with the passion for learning and creativity so often attributed to the late Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld.

Learn more about the history of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library: