LakeBaikal is a unique natural object, the oldest and the deepest lake. The prospects of further sustainable development of the Baikal region and solving the regional problems are connected with it.
Clear fresh water of LakeBaikal is characterized as the best in the world (the lake contains 20% of the world’s freshwater store!). It is the main treasure of the Baikal and an important strategic resource of the Baikal region. Freshwater problem is very up-to-date throughout the world now, more than 1 milliard people suffer from lack of it. In December 2003 the UNO General Assembly declared the years of 2005-2015 International actions decade “Water for Life”. The main objective of the decade is to encourage the efforts to fulfill the international obligations on freshwater problems and water supply by 2015.
In 1996 the UNESCO World Heritage Committee accepted LakeBaikal as a model of a distinguished freshwater ecosystem and included it into the UNESCO World Heritage List. This fact opened new opportunity to unite the efforts to protect the Baikal on the regional, federal and international levels. It is possible to preserve the lake only with close cooperation of all the sides interested.
“In the field of information the main objective is to organize access to all the accumulated information about LakeBaikal ecosystem and its effective usage to solve the problems of preserving the region’s biological diversity and opportunities of sustainable usage of the region’s natural resources… The Baikal region inhabitants should realize that they are in charge of preservation of the sacred Baikal and the whole region’s natural environment in their original condition” (The Objectives of Lake Baikal Ecosystem Preservation // The Baikal Region on the Way to Sustainable Development. Problems and Prospects. – in quarto: ill. – Ulan Ude, 2005).
“Ecologically unfavourable situation in Russia and in the world is to great extent connected with lack of procedure of information resources functioning (government and non-government)” (Kutuzov V.I., Popov A.A. Access to Ecological Information (Legal Aspects) / Russ. Com. of the UNESCO Programme “Information for Everybody”, Orenburg state university. – Moscow, 2004 – p. 14). One of the state’s main objectives is to provide its citizens with the right to access to information, knowledge and their usage. But the importance to provide the access to socially significant information, official, legal, consumer, ecological, business etc.which is a public property, is underestimated nowadays.
Nowadays it is rather difficult to find a greater part of information resources about LakeBaikal accumulated abroad, in the ministries and departments of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Buryatia, research institutions, social organizations, educational and cultural institutions and the Internet. Departmental and other barriers prevent forming the republic united information system about LakeBaikal. Isolated sources and different presentation formats limit the users’ access to information, decrease the quality of information flows and narrow the area of their application. Lack of available information influences investment and tourist attractiveness of Buryatia negatively.
In 2005 the Baikal Information Centre (BaikalInformCentre) was opened in the Republic of Buryatia National Library to integrate the world and national resources about LakeBaikal, to give information support of the concrete nature protection activity, information provision of science and ecological education, spreading ecological information and knowledge by using traditional information sources and new information technologies. The idea of organizing the Centre was proposed by the participants of the International Baikal information and cultural forum “Cultural Diversity in the Information Society” (June 24 – July 1, 2005, Ulan Ude). The need in information resources on ecology can be satisfied only by libraries. They are in charge of information areas of the country and the republic.
In 2006 the Republic of Buryatia National Library celebrated its 125th anniversary. During the anniversary days June 29 – July 5, 2006 the International scientific and practical conference “The Problems of Preservation the Natural and Cultural Diversity in the Baikal Region”.
The Baikal Information Centre was presented during the conference.
At the BaikalInformCentre opening ceremony such people spoke as Ye.V. Tegina, a representative of UNEP Moscow Office, A.A. Demidov, deputy chairman of the UNESCO Programme “Information for Everybody” Russian Committee, M.V. Saushkina, Moscow Business Association, Tourism Committee head, S.G. Shapkhayev, the Buryatia regional Baikal Association director. They pointed out that the Baikal Information Centre was necessary and timely to appear, as well as their practical income into ecological informing the society.
Since the beginning of its activity the BaikalInformCentre has done very much to form information resources on LakeBaikal.
Information web-portal “Baikal-Lake” (http://www.baikal-center.ru) has been worked out and is working now. The portal consists of 10 sections devoted to LakeBaikal and the Baikal natural territory. The information is of reference character. Thematic sections include materials submitted by nature protection organizations, scientific research institutions, republican and municipal libraries. The sections requiring special knowledge such as Hydrology and Hydrochemistry, Geology, Game Resources and others present the articles by well-known scientists and researchers published in periodicals.
The first section of the portal, Laws on Lake Baikal, contains laws and resolutions of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Buryatia and other legal acts of the international, federal, regional and local levels connected with LakeBaikal protection.
The second section is devoted to LakeBaikal itself; it contains the main characteristics of the lake and information about travellers and explorers. It also has the materials on geological history and the origin of the lake, climatic and hydrological conditions and the Baikal ecosystem.
The section Pribaikalye (The BaikalLand) includes materials on the Baikal region natural resources. Pribaikalye possesses a great natural potential and is distinguished for flora and fauna diversity, rich mineral, forest, game, fish, water and land resources.
The Baikal region has a system of specially guarding natural territories. This system includes natural reserves, game reserves, national parks and natural landmarks. In the corresponding section of the portal there is information about the specially guarding natural territories and sights of Buryatia.
The portal section Tourism and Recreation contains articles on the problems and prospects of tourism development in the area of LakeBaikal. It influences the social and economic life of the Baikal region. There is also information about the resorts and mineral water springs of Buryatia.
The territory around LakeBaikal is the natural heritage site having the biggest territory and population, where economic activity is very intensive. Nowadays ecological situation is getting worse in the Baikal region. Information about it is presented in the section The Baikal Ecology. The problems of international cooperation in the field of the Baikal region nature protection and ecological education are also considered there.
In 1992 International conference in Rio de Janeiro authorized by UNO proclaimed realization of the Concept of sustainable development of nature, man and society to be the urgent task of mankind. The key significance is given by the Concept to the right of man to living in favourable natural conditions. The portal section The Baikal Region Sustainable Development is devoted to philosophic problems, the Concept and the Programme of sustainable development. The problems of ecological ethics, education and economy are under consideration.
In recent years the notions of objectives and opportunities of the libraries are being changed as well as their place in information, cultural and scientific environment. In the section Culture and Lake Baikal the activity of the republic’s libraries as ecological information centres is represented.
Beauty and severity, spirit and vastness of LakeBaikal have become a source of inspiration for artists and musicians, poets and writers. The image of LakeBaikal in the works of literature, music and fine arts of Buryatia is reflected in the section Literature and Art.
As a result of long-term research and exploration work there is a great bibliography counting thousands of books and articles. In the section Electronic Library the full-text database is being formed about LakeBaikal, Buryatia and the Baikal region.
The portal has got a system of references to regional, Russian and foreign Internet resources. The sites of state and department institutions, scientific and non-government organizations, thematic sites about the Baikal, especially guarding natural territories, tourism and ecology are widely presented. Thus, the web-portal provides access to other resources about the Baikal and the Baikal natural territory regardless of their location, on inter-regional and international levels.
BaikalInfromCentre is also working over collecting full-text reference CD databases.
Such databases are collected as The Baikal Protected Lands, The Baikal Is in the Heart of the People, The Baikal Is a Source of Inspiration, The Economic Baikal, Researchers and Explorers on the Baikal. All the databases contain reference materials on the topic, full texts of articles (sometimes even books), extensive bibliography, photographs and illustrations.
Reference database The Baikal Is in the Heart of the People is devoted to the folklore of the Baikal land people, the Buryats, the Russians and the Evenks, as well as to the image of the SacredSea in the folklore. Legends about the Baikal make up a special significant cycle of the local folklore; they describe the origin of the lake and the Baikal cavity rivers, the history of the SacredSea coast having been inhabited. The material on the topic dispersed all over numerous sources, has been generalized and systematized by the BaikalInformCentre.
Reference and bibliographic database The Baikal Protected Lands consists of 7 sections and presents information about nature reserves, national parks, game reserves of federal and republican significance, about nature landmarks of the Republic of Buryatia. There is the section Bibliography (more than 800 titles) and a full-text library where the most significant publications are presented.
Reference and bibliographic database The Baikal Is a Source of Inspiration (LakeBaikal in the works of art of Buryatia) includes paintings, graphic works and the works of applied art by 28 artists from Buryatia. The section Bibliography contains the list of literature about the artists who have reflected the Baikal in their works. It is possible to look through the full texts of the articles.
The full-text database The Economic Baikal is devoted to the problems of anthropogenous influence on the water environment of the lake. It is possible to find articles about the influence of industrial enterprises, transport system, agriculture and forestry, hunting and fishery on the ecological system of LakeBaikal.
The database Researchers and Explorers on the lake Baikal consists of 4 sections and contains biographic data of the lake researchers, the bibliography of their works, a summarized list of the documents about LakeBaikal exploration from the rare books fund of the National Library. There are full texts, photographs and illustrations.
Nowadays the BaikalInformCentre is working out LakeBaikalelectronic catalogue. The catalogue is being worked out in the Irbis system which gives users an opportunity to search information in many aspects: the author, key words, thematic sections, the title and so on. The catalogue contains bibliographic descriptions of books, maps, cards, CD and DVD about LakeBaikal which are in the stock of the National Library, as well as descriptions of the articles from periodicals. At the same time retroconversion is being done, traditional card catalogue is being conversed into electronic form.
The BaikalInformCentre was greatly supported by UNESCO Moscow Office, UNEP Moscow Office, UNICEF mission in the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus. The activity of the Centre interests the Russian Federation UNESCO Commission and the Russian Committee of the UNESCO Information for Everybody Programme.
Profile information centres are organized and work in republican and municipal libraries: the republican state youth library named after D. Batozhabai (Cultural and information ecological centre for young people), the Barguzin district library (Information centre Baikal. Information. Tourism), the Kabansk district library (Information centre of cultural and ecological tourism), the Pribaikalsk district library (Information centre of recreation and cultural tourism). Their activity is reflected on the following sites: www.grub.burnet.ru – the Youth Library, http://www.az-kozin.narod.ru is the site of the Pribaikalsk library, http://kcbs.comsat.ru is the portal Land at the Baikal of the Kabansk district library.
Providing information service for library customers the BaikalInformCentre has an opportunity to have public gatherings, round tables, discussions, social expert testing of projects and programmes touching the interests and rights of the population in the field of the environment protection and sustainable development.
The objectives of BaikalInformCentre are being realized on the principles of accessibility and openness for users; completeness and efficiency of the presented information; partnership of the power bodies, business, scientific and cultural institutions and social organizations. Consolidation of information and practical opportunities of the institutions of culture, education, nature protection and ecological organizations will provide the foundation for ecological protection of the Baikal region nature – it is information aimed at strengthening sustainable development potential.