Collections Management Meeting Notes

Stream five: WANALA FORUM, 16th-18th October 2018

The Western and Northern Aboriginal Languages Alliance (WANALA) biannual forum was held in Batchelor from the 16th-18th of October. The forum brought together interested people from language centres around WA and the NT, as well as a number from other states.

Stream five of the program included a one and a half day meeting for language centre managers on Managing Language Collections. The meeting was open to interested language centres and activities nationally.

The meeting came about at the request of language centres and programs, particularly in the NT and WA. Throughout 2017 First Languages Australia received a number of contacts from staff in language centres asking about current tools to support best practice in collection management. While many language centres have been managing their collections for more than twenty years, they have keen awareness of the need to be constantly developing and improving their procedures and to be looking at new tools and systems to support this work.

Collection management will always be a challenge for language centres. The organisation of these important collections brings with it many technical issues in addition to the general funding, staffing and community obligations inherent to language activities. For example, language centres must determine:

- Which of the myriad tools available are appropriate for which context?

- How to weigh up usability, price, functionality, support required and rapid technology turnover?

- How to pay for the time and human resources required for the appropriate collection and archiving of precious language resources? and

- How organisations can answer to the communities they serve, while also managing intellectual property in compliance with national laws, negotiating the balance between open sharing and appropriate restriction?

Over the past year, discussions between language centres and partners revealed the lack of a clear system for adoption across language centres that will see local language collections sustainably managed for future generations.

While a number of tools are currently being developed by language centres and their collaborators with funds from ILA and elsewhere, there has been little coordinated discussion and effort to find solutions that can be implemented by many to reduce expense and workload for all. As such, this meeting was proposed as the first discussion toward:

  • Identifying what is needed,
  • Exploring what is available and/or in development that may support local/regional work, and potentially,
  • Identifying opportunities to use the collective strengths and knowledge of the language network to ensure that collections are safe and accessible into the future.

Meeting attendees included language centre managers, literature production centre staff, archive managers, language workers, linguists and library staff. The program was divided between presentations and workshop sessions around the headings “Language centres”, “Archives” and “Tools”. The meeting was facilitated by Jennifer Kniveton (FLA) with assistance from Annalee Pope (FLA), Steven Bird (CDU) and Carolyn Barker (FLA). It was an excellent opportunity for people to come together and share ideas on all these issues in a supportive, friendly environment.

Use these links to skip through to a summary of the section of the program that interests you:

Language Centres

Archives

Panel discussion

Workshop — Common needs

Tools

Workshop — Way forward

Outcomes


Language Centres

The first morning involved presentations from language centres on the issues they face.

Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre

The work of Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre is to record, analyse, transcribe and preserve records of the Pilbara’s Indigenous languages and to promote the use of languages. As part of this work, Wangka Maya records as many of their twenty-six languages as possible; and develops essential resources such as dictionaries, grammar documents, stories, maps, videos and recordings for each language. The organisation was incorporated in 1987 and has long been concerned with the management of the materials it produces.

Manager Julie Walker shared the Wangka Maya experience. Wangka Maya currently stores and accesses its materials on its P Drive, undertaking regular manual backups. Copies of materials are sent to AIATSIS as a disaster management strategy. When Julie started in 2013 there was no system in place for managing the collection of books, recordings and files produced. A fire in the building prior to 2013 led to smoke damage that destroyed over 5000 cassettes. The loss of these materials had a significant impact on community relationships. In 2012 the organisation commissioned a Records and Collections Significance Assessment Report which included recommendations for disaster planning. The funds for significance assessment reports are available from the National Library of Australia. This report was followed in 2014 by a Preservation Needs Assessment Report to document the short, medium and long-term collection management and preservation maintenance activities. Julie made both reports available to attendees for reference.

The language centre faces many requests from community members to access materials. These requests each take time and Julie pointed out that knowing something exists is not the same as being able to show it to someone. Detailed information about the materials (metadata) is required, and this information needs to be linked to the physical and/or digital locations.

Unlike some other language centres, Julie was also clear that the materials in Wangka Maya’s collection belong to the language centre rather than to the families of contributors, so it is the responsibility of Wangka Maya staff to make decisions about how the materials are managed and used.

After the Preservation Assessment Report, a South Australian company was engaged to digitise the collection. Julie noted that specialist support is very hard to find in remote contexts, making it incredibly expensive to build and support appropriate infrastructure. The long distances between communities mean that even simple workshops need to be carefully planned. For example, laptops running out of power hundreds of kilometres away is a problem not faced in our major cities.

Groote Eylandt Language Centre

The Anindilyakwa Land Council and Groote Eylandt Language Centre are working on an ILA funded project ‘Ajamurnda’ which is gathering ‘legacy’ materials (digital and physical) as well as ongoing contributions, curating, cataloguing and providing managed access, and working towards digital preservation, with the principal audience being the Anindilyakwa community on Groote Eylandt.

David Nathan reported on the development of Ajamurnda which responds to the need for a repository for the huge amount of materials produced over many years which had never been systematically collected or catalogued. The process to date has gathered 200,000 digital files spanning over 40 years. These are being prepared for preservation and curation.

A metadata schema has been designed based on the IRCA metadata recommendations, with adaptations for some Anindilyawa ontology and knowledge management priorities. The metadata schema was shared for reference by others. There is presently limited metadata for most of the collection but large community interest in and knowledge about the resources, so a major task is to develop good methodologies for eliciting richer metadata to facilitate retrieval and access. There are plans for an app to enable mobile access to resources as well as encourage metadata enrichment. And the language centre has created spaces with community-access computers.

A ‘protocol grid’ is being developed to manage access based on attributes such as gender, clan, place, jungkayi roles and more; along with an online catalogue system based on the open-source CMS ‘Mukurtu’ tailored to how community members prefer to access and use the system. The aim is for the knowledge management system to implement local Indigenous knowledge management concepts. The current catalogue data is managed through an MS Access database holding 45,000 records, but this will be superseded by the online system.

David noted that the most important knowledge about the materials is not in the system or metadata but in the community itself. Ajamurnda is designed to bring together the two components — digital resources and the local knowledge about them. He noted the importance of a collections policy to assist with the selection and curation of files, the use of software to automate some of the processes, and the benefit of using unique file IDs in managing long file names. The language centre has developed a range of access protocols that allow people to feel safe about looking at things and about what other people are looking at, coming up with seven categories which are currently being tested, with a view to creating a living map of knowledge circulation.

Miromaa Aboriginal Language and Technology Centre (MALTC)

The Miromaa Aboriginal Language and Technology Centre’s collections include:

  • Public access library with over 2000 books
  • Artefacts
  • Photographs
  • Artwork, and
  • Language resources.

These materials are catalogued using Athenaeum Pro. Athenaeum Pro is a library management package designed for schools, community libraries, churches and other organisations wishing to manage their resources. It offers catalogue management with flexible configuration, which the website states is an “affordable, easy-to-use package with which NFPs can effectively manage their resources — both physical and digital.”

The language centre also holds 16000 digital items (audio, image, text and PDF files) on their own internal server. This includes daily working files as well as archive materials. MALTC Manager Daryn McKenny noted that the server is expensive to maintain, but they have negotiated for the software at a commercial cost of $12,000 to be sponsored at no cost to the language centre.

Daryn reported on Miromaa Aboriginal Language and Technology Centre’s management of both the physical and digital collections they’ve developed over many years, including some very rare historical documents on the languages of the Newcastle area. He described the different processes used for capturing and storing metadata, as well as various means of mirroring and backing up. He showed the Fujitsu Scan Snap, a handheld scanner with a range of software that makes digitisation look very simple. He also identified some of the challenges of keeping a physical collection safe and recommended some useful software and tips for not-for-profit agencies.

Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Cooperative

Presenting online, Mari Rhydwen from Muurrbay Language Centre shared a perspective from a language centre dealing with reclamation languages, as the centre creates few new primary resources but needs to keep safe existing material. Much of their work is more about producing written texts than recording and documenting. They do, however, have materials that they are concerned to preserve and many that they need to keep safe and track for daily working. They use Dropbox to store files, but acknowledge that this is not ideal and are keen to learn of alternatives.

Mari noted that similar to other language centres, much of the knowledge about the materials they hold (for instance -what they have and how to find things) is held with individual staff. This presents a significant issue when staff move on as their knowledge goes with them. There were also concerns about security and access, for example, if computers are damaged or stolen, or if someone with a large collection passes away. Looking to the future, if the language centre did not exist, what would happen to all these materials?

Mari raised the question of whether there was a possibility of there being a permanent repository where small organisations, like Muurrbay, could deposit copies of their digital materials at one of the bigger organisations that is a permanent repository (such as AIATSIS) as one deposits things in a bank safety deposit box; i.e. not for AIATSIS of wherever to use or manage, but simply as a back-up in the event of a small organisation losing some of, or all, its digital materials in the case of a fire or theft, or local back up failure.

Kimberley Language Resource Centre

The KLRC has adopted a number of strategies and tools for records management since its archive was set up in 1996. The current vision is one of ‘accessibility and usability’. The presentation summarised the organisation’s archive management activities and its emerging database project, touching on what has and has not worked to date including the issue of relying on external expertise vs local employment in a remote area.

Presenting remotely, Siobhan Casson showed images of their archive room in the centre of their building, and how their material has been carefully catalogued over the years, earning high praise for their collection in a Significance Assessment in 2008. The difficulties have been in maintaining this high standard, with the turnover of outside staff, lack of committed funding to this aspect of the centre, and the lack of links between the digitised materials and the database. The challenge of working in a language context with no embedded literate culture means some materials such as grammars and dictionaries are not the most appropriate for supporting intergenerational language transmission, yet funding opportunities tend to prioritise text-based resources rather than teaching on country programs. Low literacy presents a problem for traditional collection management systems/processes as the number of people who may be able to use the system, either to input or access materials, is greatly reduced. The KLRC is working toward an information management system that could incorporate the digital archive as part of a larger infrastructure, and they are looking to find how this might be done effectively.

The KLRC provided an outline of their metadata collection information and their policy and procedures manual for sharing with the group.


Archives

After hearing from the language centres, the next sessions focused on institutional archives and how they can support the work of language centres.

Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages

Cathy Bow from Charles Darwin University presented on the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages, a digital collection of endangered literature in languages of the Northern Territory. A collaborative partnership funded by the Australian Research Council, the archive contains around 5000 items in 50 languages. The collection is stored on the university’s library repository, in PDF and text form for presentation, and TIFF formats for preservation, available through a visual website that requires little text or technical literacy to navigate. Cathy described the way tensions between copyright and Indigenous cultural and intellectual property are being managed, through licenses, permission forms and take-down notices, while using a Creative Commons license to inform users of the conditions under which the materials are shared.

Funding for the project has ended and the management of the archive is currently being transitioned to the Northern Territory Library. However, the collection continues to be open to receive digital materials from communities across the NT. If a literature production centre, language centre or community have materials they wish to add to the archive but need help to digitise or curate, they can contact Cathy and collaborate in finding resources so that the proposed activity can be prioritised.

CALL Collection

Karen Manton presented on the CALL Collection’s website and digitisation project (phase 1). The Collection is jointly managed by Batchelor Institute’s Centre for Australian Languages and Linguistics (CALL) and the Institute Library. It includes physical and digital materials in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, collected and created by language speakers, language workers, students and staff over the past 50 years.

Batchelor Institute acknowledges the people who made the works, and their sense of connection to and responsibility for the materials. The works are being digitised for preservation and use into the future, and so people can access them through the website callcollection.batchelor.edu.au.

Terri Janke worked with the Collection on protocols, website terms and licences that inform and protect both the creators and users of the Collection. These include end-user licences tiered for public, educational and cultural use; and consent agreements that cover Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property, copyright, clan ownership, community interests and creators’ rights.

Following phase 2 of development, the website/database is intended for open source use by other collections, where appropriate.

The Collection accepts materials that fit the selection criteria; for queries about it or the website/database, contact the project officer on 8939 7103 (BIITE Library).

PARADISEC

The Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC) is a digital archive of records of some of the many small cultures and languages of the world. A primary goal of the project is to safely preserve digital copies of materials that would otherwise be lost, so that field recordings can be made available to the people and communities recorded, and to their descendants. PARADISEC includes a framework for accessioning, cataloguing and digitising audio, text and visual material, and preserving digital copies. Specific restrictions accompany each item.

Presenting from Sydney, Amanda Harris described nearly 50 Tb of files from 99 countries and over 1000 languages, which has now spread well beyond the Pacific region. Contributions are accessed online. The custom-built database promotes discoverability, and where possible embeds metadata directly into files. Amanda discussed some of their strategies of enriching metadata, by inviting language experts and community members to add value to the collections, as well as activities to promote the collection such as a Virtual Reality event at Canberra Museum in 2017. The collection includes materials form Australian languages and they are pursuing partnerships with language centres to support local archiving activities.

PARADISEC’s metadata suggestions are outlined on their website including a spreadsheet of the minimal metadata required to be uploaded to the catalogue.

Unlike AIATSIS and the state and territory libraries, PARADISEC holds digital materials only. Language centres interested in working with PARADISEC to digitise and/or archive a copy of the materials in their collections are welcome to get in contact.

While PARADISEC is able to accept Australian language collections it is not funded long-term, so it is preferred that depositors take Australian material to AIATSIS. It is hoped that all the Australian material in PARADISEC will go to AIATSIS when the time comes that the Institute has strategies in place to manage digital the growing collections.

https://vimeo.com/307676585

Panel discussion

In the panel discussion time, a 2010 checklist for language archives was shared. The checklist focused on the key issues of audience, access, preservation and sustainability, however issues of relevance to Indigenous Australia such cultural protocols need to be at the fore.

There was a clear indication that language centres wanted to manage their own collections, not relying on external experts who leave without building capacity for ongoing local sustainability. It was noted that the intertwining of technology and human resources is often under-estimated — a language centre may get funding to buy or build software, but the cost of a staff member to research, install, maintain and train others in using this is not always factored in by funding bodies.

It was noted that collections and archives are not exactly the same, with daily management of materials often demanding more immediate attention than the safe storage and backup of archival materials. Some attendees urged caution about the use of the word ‘archive’ to mean all sorts of other things — collection, library, website, backup, server — which don’t necessarily conform to the requirements of an actual archive.

From the morning’s presentations, it was clear that technology is only one small part of the process of collection and knowledge management.

The current forum was noted as an opportunity to articulate what is required and how the government can support the vital work of language centres, with the UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019 an ideal opportunity to become more visible and more vocal in our efforts.


Workshop — Common needs

The intention of the first workshop was to identify the requirements of language collection management that are shared nationally, or by many. Small groups worked together to explore the following topics:

Access

What drives the management of our collections?

What are the main things that language centres need to manage their collections for, and what is required to enable that access?

Who are the main users and what are the particular needs of each group of users? For example:

  • Community wanting to access materials for personal, cultural use or family use.
  • Language workers wanting to access materials for current activities.
  • Managers needing to report to funding bodies.
  • Language workers adding to the collection.

Planning

What is needed to support language centres to overcome the following collection management issues?

  • Planning,
  • Cultural factors,
  • Policies and procedures, and
  • Maintenance and Sustainability.

People and skills

Staffing, training, cultural factors and skill development are major hurdles in the successful management of our collections. Identify strategies to overcome these issues at the local and regional level. Are there ways we can work together nationally to reduce this burden?

Access

These keeping places have been developed from and by the language communities, they support, as resources to be drawn on now and into the future. The group exploring access identified a range of language workers as the primary users of these collections, each with particular needs in relation to their work and activities to strengthen and increase the use of their languages. A series of shared needs were identified as priorities in the establishment of collections management systems, such as training, local control, ease of use, availability offline, data security, able to be accessed from multiple locations, and variable levels of control.

Workshop question

What drives the management of our collections?

What are the main things that language centres need to manage their collections for, and what is required to enable that access?

Who are the main users and what at the particular needs of each group of users? For example:

  • Community wanting to access materials for personal, cultural use or family use.
  • Language workers wanting to access materials for current activities.
  • Managers needing to report to funding bodies.
  • Language workers adding to the collection.

Drivers

1. To preserve and revitalize language

2. Community self-identify

3. Local keeping place — contributed by community

4. Respect and awareness

5. Sense of belonging

What we need

1. Expertise — Transfer skills to community

2. Safe, local control

3. Usability

4. Content should be downloadable/offline use (syncing)

5. Content deliverable in media besides the internet. I.E. MP3 Player

6. Data security — it needs to be safer forever

7. Multiple interfaces, staff interface, managing the collection.

8. Access control

9. Recording of copyright conditions — attach audio, video and PDF file to the object (English and language)

10. Revoking access

11. Social media sharing

12. Should be accessible out of office

13. Low bandwidth versions on media

Planning

The planning group focused on knowing where to start, such as with an audit of what materials there are and in what forms, which can then be used as the basis for a database — whether a simple spreadsheet or a more complex system. A suggestion that the government could provide storage for off-site backup for language centre materials was met with caution from those who don’t trust the government that this would be a sustainable long-term option. Some felt that AIATSIS would be a suitable repository. Prioritisation of work is also crucial, thinking internally, regionally, and nationally, with a view to sharing knowledge and avoiding duplication of effort. Both the audit and prioritisation processes require funding, time and people, which are all in short supply in language centres. There may be some crowdsourcing or volunteer options, though these may require significant initial setup. First Languages Australia could support the process by providing case studies, guidelines and factsheets if people are willing to share what they have. There was some concern about language becoming a product that can be packaged, so the need for more innovative ways to think about collections and data as something other than artefacts to be managed, and to communicate the value of our languages (in all their forms) for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

Workshop question

What is needed to support language centres to overcome the following collection management issues?

  • Planning,
  • Cultural factors
  • Policies and procedures, and
  • Maintenance and sustainability

Where do you start?

1. Prioritising this work with the organisation, nationally and regionally

2. Audit. This could involve collecting information into spreadsheets or a catalogue

3. Thinking about how the collection will be used

4. Using volunteers. Including services such as the Atlas of Living Australia — Digivol, https://digivol.ala.org.au/https://digivol.ala.org.au/ (Cathy Bow has a relationship)

5. Being innovative — make language a movement

Actions

1. Use knowledge management as a term rather than collection which tends to objectify language

2. Promote tools, policies, procedures, templates

3. Work together toward reliable ongoing sustainable sufficient funding

Requests

1. Cloud offer nationally from a trusted provider

2. IT Support nationally. E.g. connecting up

3. FLA to share case studies, on:

  • Tools
  • Practices

4. FLA research nationally / internationally for knowledge collection management advice and guidelines

5. Share policy and procedures documents, for example:

  • Your language journey — Miromaa
  • KLRC Procedures manual
  • LAAL licence agreements

6. Possibly produce a collection management document like Angkety map: Digital resource report, outlining:

  • Big Statement about the value of the collections at the local level. Highlighting value statements from people within language communities and external partners.
  • The steps: 1. Identify, 2. Digitise, 3. Store
  • Information and procedure need to target people at various levels. For example, a step-by-step process that can lead to growing healthy collections
  • Best practice model for language centre collection development
  • Digitisation — guidelines, formats, best practices
  • Staff wage/pay rates/job descriptions

People and Skills

The people and skills group identified a number of strategies for implementation regionally and/or nationally to help overcome the significant shortage of language workers’ skilled in collection management. Strategies included working toward a traineeship or apprenticeship in collection management, developing partnerships with regional libraries, working collectively to find funds to properly establish and maintain collections systems across organisations, and developing a job outline for a “data management officer” position at language centres.

Workshop question

Staffing, training, cultural factors and skill development are major hurdles in the successful management of our collections. Identify strategies to overcome these issues at the local and regional level. Are there ways we can work together nationally to reduce this burden?

Training

  1. Recognition of the need for a flexible learning framework and targeted training for the language centre industry.
  • Needs to identify the current skill level of individual workers. The training needs to be flexible so that people at all skill/knowledge levels can do the training.
  • Identify funding for the course — Abstudy, apprentice or trainee.
  • Identify funding to develop the course
  • Audit courses to see what is available, we don’t need to duplicate, can borrow. Look at Library courses, data management.
  • Training delivery — The terminology needs to be inclusive for our people.

2. Investigate the shared and complementary skills, knowledge and understanding with library workers in remote areas and bilingual programs.

Funding

  1. Apply for funding as a state or region to engage a specialist to develop, setup, maintain data management systems.
  • Language centres or programs work together toward one application
  • Development needs to include the legal aspects and training of staff and ongoing support costs.

Staff

1. Language centres each need support for a permanent part-time “data management officer” position

2. Need a guide for job description

  • Also, need this for managers positions and other language centre jobs

3. This person needs the ability to train others


Tools

The final session of the day overviewed a selection of tools which are available or in development.

First Nations Media Australia

Presenting from Alice Springs, Susan Locke from First Nations Media Australia (formerly Indigenous Remote Media Association­–IRCA) described their multifaceted approach to developing resources and standards and their coordinated approach to a national community collections plan.

Like language centres, remote media organisations (RIMOS) have been making audio and video recordings in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities since the early 1980s. The recordings are still held by these organisations in a range of formats and under a range of environmental and organisational conditions. These collections represent a unique set of audiovisual resources produced by and for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, managed by cultural custodians according to local cultural protocols, and maintained on the countries to which the cultural and social content is directly connected.

To support the management of media collections First Nationals Media (formerly IRCA) have developed an archiving strategy and associated tools including metadata collection spreadsheets (which they made available for distribution), format recommendations and a training fellowship.

They are working on an affordable digital asset management system (DAMS) for Indigenous media organisations which would manage preservation files for archiving, managing ‘mezzanine’ files for production house purposes, managing community viewing and listening, capturing cultural information, and controlling access according to cultural protocols. This work will begin in 2019 and requires additional funding.

Northern Territory Library and Community Stories (AKA Keeping Culture and Ara Irititja)

Anja Tait asked us to reconsider ‘what is a library’ as she described their 32 remote library services, plus providing wifi to 44 communities. She described some of the library’s legacy language projects — a language app, bilingual board books — as well as an innovative rethinking of how to classify library materials in a community environment.

For the past five years, Northern Territory Library has been offering a service called Community Stories to interested remote communities. The service provides communities with an online presentation system through which to share language and cultural materials. Community Stories is run using the Keeping Culture content management system (CMS) and Commercial Hosting Service. Keeping Culture allows users to create a repository of images, movies and audio recordings, which draw together cultural knowledge. Using the system of categories individual items can be linked to form a web of interrelated knowledge. Keeping Culture has grown from Ara Irititja which was first developed in 1994 as a house for materials of cultural and historical significance to Anangu, and where it continues to be used.

The Community Stories service provided by the Northern Territory Library has been used by a number of communities with varying levels of success. Northern Territory Library is currently in the process of reconfiguring the service with consideration of how best to serve the local and regional needs of communities.

Miromaa Software

Daryn McKenny presented on new developments to the Miromaa software, which enable its use for the management of language collections.

The Miromaa language software is an MS Windows, MS Access based tool for collating language information and resources (text, audio, video, and documents). New modifications have been added that allow users to expand current use with more customisable features to allow the archiving, collecting and managing a wide range of digital data items. Users can set up individual installations for storing material (text, video, audio) relevant to particular projects (for example all the information around a particular language, place or activity).

Miromaa users can make multiple databases and label the fields in each, to allow the storing of the text and metadata information and upload video, audio, pdf and other primary source files which are housed in a folder on the user’s computer or network drive.

The software is provided at no cost to language centres, individuals and communities which qualify, more information can be found on the Miromaa website under “How to Obtain”.

Mac users can use Miromaa through an MS Windows emulator. Contact Daryn for further details.

CoEDL new tools in development

Nick Thieberger from the University of Melbourne shared three emerging projects through The Centre of Excellence for the Dynamic of Language (CoEDL). CoEDL has funding for each of these projects and is looking to partner with language centres to explore them further.

1) Metadata entry tool

The first is a multi-platform extension of SIL’s SayMore program to assist users to enter catalogue information when creating collections, allowing simple means to view and add information about files, people, places, etc. It will be a javascript cross-platform system which writes out a file that can be imported into archival systems. A preliminary (alpha) version can be downloaded here: https://github.com/MEaCoM/saymore-js/releases

The tool aims to do simply what Arbil does in a more complicated way, and also the failed ExSite9 and the never developed Fieldhelper.

2) Collection management database

The second is proposed to be an online, cross-platform collections database for small agencies, aimed at allowing language centres and other cultural organisations to add rich metadata to and keep track of their collections. After requests from and discussion with a number of organisations (and on the RNLD list) Nick would like to get a simple database built through which multiple users can manage a collection (ideally from different locations if necessary) and has been talking with Marco LaRosa about starting work on it.

Nick is interested in feedback and collaboration with interested language centres. Some design ideas are provided here, https://go.coedl.net/DSC

3) Platform for accessing textual sources

The third is based on the Digital Daisy Bates project, as a map interface to collections, where a user can click on a map location to see a text, and the text and images scroll together. James McElvenny is doing some work on a TEI/XML system with a database (funded with a CoEDL small grant). The system will be modelled on existing platforms for classical documents, like these:

Clint Bracknell has been working on Noongar documents, in both textual and digitised image format, that he will contribute to start the platform.


Workshop — Way forward

The intention of this workshop was to identify options for moving forward together.

The discussion part of the workshop covered many different topics, from a warning about talking only about ‘tools’ but rather thinking in terms of ‘concepts’, to noting the feeling of isolation that the use of technical terms causes. There was a call for Miromaa be supported as it is a tool that many language centres and workers are already using, and a grateful welcome from language centres to working collaboratively with “friends of language centres” toward mutual goals. First Languages Australia mentioned that over the next six months, with seed funding from CoEDL, they have a small project called ‘Yaale: Tools for language work’ through which information about the tools, templates and systems showcased during the forum will be able to be shared between the group and with others in the language network.

There is a sense of urgency for progress to be made on the issues discussed, with people wanting more opportunities to workshop and discuss options, possibly even before the next Puliima conference in August next year.

It was decided that an important outcome of the gathering would be a statement from the group calling on the government to acknowledge the importance of Indigenous languages and to support them through adequate funding and legislation. The meeting broke into groups to capture the key elements of the message, and a team is currently compiling the statement.

Outcomes

First Languages Australia to:

Work with language centres and projects to share information that can support collection management, including:

Research options for the provision of traineeships and apprenticeships in regional and remote collection management.

Work to raise awareness of the significance of our languages and language collections, including publishing a statement from the forum highlighting the importance of the work being undertaken.

Facilitate a strategic planning meeting of language centre managers, to establish the national goals; and develop a clear and public strategy for achieving national language goals.

Language centres, literature production centres, and other language activities to:

Provide copies of relevant materials (templates, policies etc) to FLA for sharing within the language network.

Work with FLA to develop case studies that will help increase understanding of ways to manage language collections.

Ensure that high quality copies of all the materials in their collections are held in duplicate in at least one safe off-site archive. This is an essential part of disaster planning. AIATSIS, PARADISEC and the state and territory libraries and archives are appropriate partners in this activity. See the archiving section of Warra for more information.

Establish working groups for WA and NT for approaching the state and territory governments toward appropriate recognition, legislation and support for languages and language activities. The working groups can invite collaboration from FLA as required.

First Languages Australia agreed to collate and distributed notes from the sessions to the attendees for review prior to publication.

Photos courtesy of WANALA.