Navigate Up
Home » Knowledge Centre » Visitors Guide

Visitors’ Guide to the Maritime Knowledge Centre (MKC)

"sharing maritime knowledge"

The Maritime Knowledge Centre holds the most extensive collection of information on maritime safety, security and prevention of pollution from ships.  It is open Monday to Friday 10:00 - 17:00 by appointment only.  It is closed during the Christmas week and official holidays.



To support the day-to-day activities of the Organization, the Centre maintains selective collections in the following subjects: maritime safety and protection of the marine environment and more specifically ship design and equipment, stability and load lines, fishing vessels safety, containers and cargoes, bulk chemicals, fire protection, life-saving, search and rescue, standards of training and watchkeeping, carriage of dangerous goods, marine pollution, preparedness and response, navigation and communications, facilitation, technical co-operation, air pollution from ships, maritime security and piracy and armed robberies against ships.  


Searching for information

To find your way through:

“How and Where to Find IMO Information” – A Guide for Delegates and Researchers”

Please ask the staff member in charge of visitors and enquiries to demonstrate access to the on-line catalogues and access to the classification system if necessary.  All enquiries should be made to the same staff member throughout the day. The terminology database “MultiTrans” can be accessed from the MKC and the business centres.

There is a small collection on the commercial aspects of shipping and an audio-visual collection.  Shipping papers and magazines such as Lloyd's List, Fairplay, TradeWinds etc are also available online.

Technical enquiries

We cannot pursue requests for technical information and you are advised to contact your national Administration which is the appropriate channel for dissemination of IMO technical information. Implementation of IMO instruments is the responsibility of national Administrations.  Links can be found on the National Contacts page and the electronic database for Contact Points in GISIS.


Researchers and students

Researchers and students should first visit the relevant sections of the website and the Site Index.
If you cannot find what you are looking for, try a search engine, adding IMO to your key words. This will usually take you to the relevant section of the IMO website.
The collections of the Maritime Knowledge Centre can be searched online in SeaLibrary.  See also : How and Where to find IMO Information




“SeaLibrary” is IMO’s online bibliographic catalogue.  The card catalogues (author, subject, title) go up to June 1991. After that date, all bibliographic records for books, conference proceedings, articles, videos, DVD’s (over 96,000 records) are searchable on “SeaLibrary.”  The database and the Thesaurus of Terms are available on the IMO website in the Information Resources section.

IMO Documents

The Centre is custodian of the collection of IMO documents, produced since 1959.  They are available in paper form in English and French from that date and in Spanish from 1985.   Reports of the main Committees are also available in Arabic, Chinese and Russian. 

Except for working papers,  all IMO Documents issued since 1998 are available in the IMODOCS database in English, French and Spanish; some documents are also available in Arabic, Chinese and Russian. Documents prior to 1998  can be obtained on an ad hoc basis provided that they exist in electronic form.

Information contained in IMO documents, especially working papers, is not final until the Assembly has approved them. Please do not remove documents from their files. 


IMO Conventions

Information on Conventions and the status of ratification is on the website in the Legal Section and in the GISIS module. Please note that only certified copies of Conventions are valid for implementation purposes.


IMO Publications

Some editions of codes, guides, regulations, etc., may be superseded by work in progress.  The Organization accepts no responsibility for their current validity. The Centre holds a collection of superseded editions. When in doubt, enquirers are advised to contact the relevant department of their national administration.

IMO publications can be viewed in the Maritime Knowledge Centre.  External purchases should be made to the Publishing Service via the website and personal visitors can order on-line from the business centres in IMO or the Centre.  Delegates are advised to have their books sent to their pigeon holes.


IMO posters:  Most IMO posters can be obtained free of charge from the Maritime Knowledge Centre.



Most IMO publications are available in the three working languages i.e. English, French and Spanish.   Reports of the main committees are also translated into Arabic, Chinese and Russian. 


Copyright and photocopying

IMO publications and all material in the Maritime Knowledge Centre are protected by copyright; photocopying for any purpose other than for private study, research, or scholarship, review or criticism in excess of “fair use” is an infringement of copyright.  Fair use: only a part of a book or chapter, single article or part of a magazine may be photocopied. The user making photocopies is liable for any infringement.

As a rule, IMO Working Papers which may be revised substantially must not be photocopied.



Loans are not permitted to outside users except to IMO Delegates and Representatives.  Inter-Library loans are possible. Please ask the Librarian in your institution to contact us.


Publications of the Maritime Knowledge Centre

"Current Awareness Bulletin" published monthly. Contains titles of articles  of interest with a small abstract. The Bulletin can be sent monthly on request.

New Acquisitions" 

“Information Resources Documents” - a series on current “hot” topics such as maritime security, piracy, air pollution from ships etc; include list of IMO documents, publications, non-IMO sources etc.

“Directory of Maritime Links” (over 2,000 links).

“Sources and Citations on the IMO Conventions and IMO Multilateral Instruments” (Archived).  Includes list of all Conventions and amendments, date of adoption, entry into force, references to IMO documents, publications, notes verbales and citations up to 2008.

“Index of IMO Resolutions” - includes full text of Committee’s resolutions.

How and Where to Find IMO Information – Guide for Delegates and Researchers".

International Shipping - Facts and Figures - a compilation of text and statistics on trade, safety, security and environment.

UN Atlas of the Oceans - in cooperation with other Agencies.


Public Information Services

Press and media enquiries should be directed to the Public Information Services, located on the eighth floor and manned between 9:00 and 17:00, Monday to Friday.


Mr. Lee Adamson Tel: +44 (0)207 587 3153;

Ms. Natasha Brown  Tel: +44 0207 587 3274;


Safety and Security

The centre is a quiet area for research. MOBILES SHOULD BE SWITCHED OFF. Smoking is not permitted in the IMO building.  Prior to operating the mobile shelving system, please ensure that no other user is inside the bays.  Personal belongings should not be left unattended. : the Organization accepts no responsibility for visitors’ personal effects.  On arrival at the IMO building, visitors will be issued with a pass for the Maritime Knowledge Centre; they must inform staff when they leave as they have to be escorted to the Security Desk and return their pass.


Bringing food in the Centre is not permitted and access to the Restaurant is reserved for staff and delegates. All visitors other than Delegates, IMO Representatives or interns, require an appointment; they should contact the Maritime Knowledge Centre at least 3 working days prior to their visit.  Appointments will be given to students once an e-mail stating the purpose of their visit is received from their tutor/supervisor at least one week in advance.  A valid ID with photograph is required. All visitors must be collected at the Security Desk and escorted when they leave the Centre.


Contact the MKC

If you wish to make an appointment to visit the Maritime Knowledge Centre please click here. Please state the subject of your enquiry.
Please note the appointments should be made 3 days in advance.



 Related Links