ALIA Dreaming 08 – Plenary – Martin Nakata

Towards guidelines and practices in Australian indigenous digital collections – Professor Martin Nakata

Wow, here I am live blogging the conference, using ScribeFire for Firefox and wi-fi at the Alices Springs Convention Centre. So sit back and enjoy the conference through mylimited eyes. Papers will be available on the conference website –

So here goes.

Martin is the Director of Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning and Char if Australian Indigenous Education – UTS.

Challenges in digitising indigenous collections included IP and copyright regimes, indigenous needs and concerns, digitisation and public domain.

An issue that has been taken up by IFLA amongst others.

The Gap – need for consistent standards and protocols across the collecting sector. (maybe a 1/4 of attendees work in libraries which hold such materials – survey of hands) .
Resulted in a project for a preliminary investigation, in partnership with the NTL, SLNSW an SLQ.

The project is investigating digitisation processes, digitisation of indigenous materials working towards guidelines and protocols.

It first focussed on the technical issues, which have now been standardised. The focus is now on consistent formats, workflow and management of collections, legal and sensitivity issues

Working on the implications for the digitisation process, including selections, clearances, decisions, time and costs, prompts, checklists an exemplars and a clear management strategy.

There are also implications for prioritising indigenous materials – both within all materials to be digitised and within indigenous materials to be digitised. Rationale for these decisions should not be based on ethnic compositions or population proportions. Unfortunately, we still dont know the extent of indigenous materials held by Australian cultural institutions.

Prof Nakata believes that inidigeous digitisation should be included in core business and not treated with separate policies and procedures.

Legal and sensitivity issues are the reasons for departure from the standard digitisation process of libraries. The next project aims to produce guidelines to assist in this process. Digitisation should also give indigenous people timely access to and the use of these materials. There should also be a higher priority for the digitisation of the materials of our native population.

Question: federal government funding – it seems there may be funding available for projects if organisations work together.

Question: will protocols being developed cover all formats and all cultural institutions, not just libraries – aim to work with GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, museums) in next project. Picture Australia is doing some groundbreaking work here, as are other cultural institutions around the world. Thinking not only about the process, but the end users needs.

Question: moral rights, any legal developments – still on turntable.

Question: protocols are first step, when do we think we will able to do this as a major project, on a national/international basis. Time is right, funding is available and the government is asking for input. TIme is ripe for a major injection of funding, not just small grants and volunteer run.

Question: what research has been done about how people use and wish to use these digitised materials. Found out during NT project – assemble much material and asked lots of questions, not just about technology. Researchers are still struggling with the issue, but it is improving.

Comment: Australian Collections Council has been heavily lobbying the government, but no positive answers yet.

Question: is there any potential for funding in the Innovation Review and the Cutler review? Havent had a chance to investigate them, but we should.

1 comment

    • CW on September 2, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Wish I was there with you – but this is great! I’ve shared it with my colleagues and look forward to more πŸ™‚

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