The Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages (www.cdu.edu.au/laal) is a digital archive of endangered literature in over 35 Australian Indigenous languages from the Northern Territory (NT). The project began in 2012 with a focus on books which were produced in NT Literature Production Centres during the era of bilingual education between 1973 and 2000. Approximately 4000 texts were identified from 20 Literature Production Centres (most now closed), and due to the demise of bilingual programs, many of the materials produced for these programs are no longer in use, and in many places are being lost, damaged or, occasionally, deliberately destroyed.
A second round of Australian Research Council funding (Linkage, Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities – LE140100063) enabled an expansion of the archive to include materials from communities which did not have bilingual programs, and to focus on engagement with the materials in the archive within communities, school programs, and academia. The project is a partnership between Charles Darwin University, NT Department of Education, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Northern Territory Library, NT Catholic Education Office, and Australian National University.
Setting up the repository involves identifying and sourcing the books, scanning and digitising them, converting them to text files and checking both texts and metadata. Copyright owners have licensed the conversion and publication of the materials online, and individual creators (authors, illustrators, translators, etc) have been asked for permission to make these materials available. The materials are available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia license
The collection includes a wide range of materials developed in the bilingual programs for use in the classroom, but also for the wider community. They included teaching materials, literacy primers, children’s stories, stories of local cultural significance, such as non-sacred versions of Dreaming or Creation stories, histories, experience stories, natural science, instructional manuals, cautionary tales, environmental knowledge, traditional practices, oral literature, and ethno-botany texts.
The dataset is available online through www.cdu.edu.au/laal, which uses a custom-built interface to the materials stored on Charles Darwin University Library’s open source Fez and Fedora based research repository, known as eSpace. The dataset includes presentation copies of the materials – with PDF versions for display and printing, plus plain text files (in Unicode). The preservation versions (TIFF files of each digitised page) will be available on application. The metadata is compatible with OLAC (Open Language Archives Community) standards, and so can be easily harvested through search engines.
ANDS Collection description for http://researchdata.ands.org.au/living-archive-of-aboriginal-languages