Tag Archives: engagement

CALL Gathering at Batchelor 8-9 July 2014

The gathering of around 35 linguists, language workers and librarians at Batchelor Institute this week was a significant event. The Centre for Australian Languages and Linguistics (CALL) has been collecting language material from all over Australia for several decades, and selections from the Northern Territory language materials were the focus of attention at this gathering.

After a warm welcome by Kungarakan traditional owner Helen Bishop, we went around the room asking people to share a little about themselves, including how long they’d been involved in Indigenous language work. When the total was finally tallied, it reached over 790 years!

After the first break it was down to work. The Batchelor Institute librarians had been through the CALL collection and selected texts and books, placing them in boxes language by language. The participants worked in groups at tables — Wadeye,Tiwi , Maningrida, Yolŋu,Ngukurr, Numbulwar, Borroloola — while a big row of tables in the middle was for the desert mob working on Gurindji, Warlpiri, Pintupi-Luritja, Warumungu, Arrernte and other languages.

Each book or document was in a plastic sleeve with a provenance sheet which needed to be filled out to audit and catalogue each item. Some items required information about who wrote or illustrated them, some needed the language to be identified, others required an English title or keywords, and some people spent time translating whole texts. Everything got a priority sticker, so we know which texts need attention first. Pairs of more experienced language workers worked with younger mentorees, or Indigenous language workers with non-Indigenous linguists. There was much laughter at some tables as documents prompted memories, and people or events were fondly recalled. Many stories both new and old were shared.

Several participants brought their own materials to add to the CALL collection and LAAL. These included linguistic notes, transcripts of recorded stories, printed books, hard drives of digital materials, unpublished texts and recordings. The prize goes to Melanie Wilkinson who brought 11 boxes of material from her many years working among the Yolŋu! Runners-up were Ken Hansen, with thousands of pages of typed or handwritten materials in Pintupi-Luritja, and Mary Laughren who brought a trolley load of materials in Warlpiri and Western Desert languages. It would be a great opportunity for any student of linguistics looking for a project to work on, helping sort through these precious materials! An honourable mention to Patrick McConvell, whose box of books was inconveniently misplaced by Virgin en-route from Canberra, but arrived safely after the gathering concluded.

There was so much work to do that we barely scratched the surface. Majella Chula and Jacinta Crocombe from Wadeye had already postponed their flight so they could be there to the end, and Magdalen Kelantumama and Dulcie Tipungwuti from Bathurst Island asked if they could come again to do more work on the Tiwi materials. As we wrapped up on the second day, Mätjarra from Ramingining commented that the workshop was “not long enough.” Samantha Disbray and Jane Simpson want to organise a workshop for the Warumungu community to do more with the materials, Margaret Carew and Marion Waiguma are already planning more activities for Maningrida languages, and Didamain Uibo wants to work on some of the stories with other Numbulwar people. Ailsa Purdon has plans for the communities she works with through Catholic Education. In the future it is hoped we will be able to do gatherings similar to this on a regional basis or with particular language groups.

It was great to see so much material from communities and languages which were previously not represented in the Living Archive because they didn’t have bilingual programs. Susan Moore has already uncovered lots of materials in Alyawarr and Anmatyerre, Salome Harris and Angelina Joshua brought some materials from Ngukurr Language Centre, and Alan Rogers from AuSIL went through materials from Borroloola. It will be exciting to see many of those grey regions on the Living Archive map turn to colour soon.

Materials deposited in the CALL collection required a permission form to allow Batchelor Institute to look after and digitise what was being deposited. Materials that will be made public on the Living Archive website also require permissions, so more forms were signed. In addition, talent release forms were required for videos and photos being taken during the event, so by the end of two days everyone was thoroughly sick of signing their names!

All the Batchelor Institute staff were incredible — Maree Klesch and Karen Manton did an amazing job getting the whole thing together, and support people like Narelle Verzeletti did everything from registration desk to airport pickups and cooking the BBQ (with T-bone steaks the size of your face!), along with Elsie Carter and Marissa Clausen. Head of Research Peter Stephenson made us feel welcome, and Batchelor Institute director Adrian Mitchell dropped in and said he’d never seen the place look busier.

The Batchelor Institute librarians were wonderfully organised with a carefully thought-through workflow which ran smoothly. Prue King and Kathy Roe were on the CALL desk, while Helena Turner and Lynne Shirley were at the New Deposits desk, with assistance from others when needed. In the library Colleen McBride had prepared an area for audio/video and slide digitisation, and a great deal of scanning took place here with Colleen, Marissa Clausen, and  Rhys Howard from CDU scanning materials and processing images that had been deposited.  Everything was clearly labelled and the staff were always ready to answer questions – there were even newly sharpened pencils on every table before we started!

The Living Archive team were kept busy – Michael Christie was working with Mätjarra, Dhäŋgaḻ and Melanie on Yolŋu materials, Cathy Bow was checking spreadsheets to see which items were already digitised in the LAAL collection, or working through lists of names to find who could give permissions, and Haidee McKittrick assisted new deposits staff with auditing new materials and provided individual support to participants.

ABC Open was there to document the process, filming the activities and interviewing the participants. Some of this will appear as part of their Mother Tongue project, and to promote both the Living Archive and CALL collections. Thanks to Will Tinapple and Jacqui Taylor for doing this, ably assisted by David Pollock from Batchelor Institute media, and to Jacinda Brown for photos throughout the workshop. We look forward to sharing some of the photos and stories here soon.

Special thanks to all the participants, especially language workers from remote communities and Darwin who took the time to come and work on their languages and share their knowledge, and provide advice about permission pathways, and in some cases give permission.

The goals of the workshop were certainly achieved, though the work is far from over. There is still much to do with cataloguing, digitising, OCRing, sharing files, and getting these materials out there through the CALL collection database and the Living Archive website. We’ll need to crowdsource much of this work, so we need some creative ideas of how to garner the power of the Internet, as well as on the ground with highly motivated traditional language owners. Maybe you’d like to help us? Visit the ‘CONTRIBUTE’ tab at livingarchive.cdu.edu.au to find out more.

Linguists, language workers and librarians gathered at Batchelor Institute

Linguists, language workers and librarians gathered at Batchelor Institute to sort through materials in Australian Indigenous languages.

Maningrida permissions

Marion Waiguma Cebu was a great help to the project when she went out with Haidee to find authors and illustrators from Maningrida Literacy Production Centre and Maningrida School. Waiguma tracked down people that live in Darwin, or were visiting or attending appointments. Waiguma and Haidee spoke to people across Darwin and Palmerston in shopping centres, communities, homes and bush camps. Waiguma not only located the individuals but also translated as well. With their signatures we can put more books from Maningrida on our website. If you know of people who can give permission for books to be uploaded to the Living Archive site, please contact us.

HM & Marion

Haidee and Marion

Naja Kriol one!

Noella Goevas, a teacher at Ngukurr School writes:

“We are reading books about dogs. So looked for a Kriol onba0089e on the Living Archive website and found Angriwan Dotdot. Read it aloud to the kids with the (Kriol-speaking) Teacher Assistant who said I didn’t need any correction (yay) and you should have seen my kids… They were at such ease… I was asking them to recount and they were recounting with 100% accuracy. Then they asked for more! “Naja Kriol one”. So we read Bifo Langa Drimtaim. Such a long story but they didn’t care… They were right into it. Such a crazy good feeling. I had kids who rarely speak answering questions. There. Done.”

Send us your stories about using the materials in the archive!


Central Australian update

Susan Moore, Indigenous Languages Program Support officer for the NT Department of Education, has been visiting communities around Central Australia and sharing about the Living Archive project and collecting new resources from communities which didn’t have bilingual education programs. She writes:

In Central Australia the Department of Education have been scanning and listing Kaytetye, Anmatyerr, Alyawarr, and Northern Arrernte books. This year I have visited eleven communities to showcase the Living Archive website and work with Indigenous staff to use the website in the classrooms. We have found it really helpful to put the books on the interactive white boards so the whole class can see the book and words clearly.

This project has been a good chance to ensure translations are correct and to translate some local traditional stories which were only in one language.  There was a traditional story from Ampilatwatja which was written only in English, and the community asked us to to work with an elder in town (Eileen Bonney) to translate it into Alyawarr.  It will be great to have this story in both languages to use in the school and community when it is accessible through the Living Archive.

The school language programs which have never had bilingual funding really appreciate the digitization of their books as they don’t have very many books since they haven’t had extra staffing and funding for Literature Production Centres.  Here are a few stories of how we have been working in schools. At Harts Range we identified a number of resources to be uploaded and received permission for all their Northern Arrernte books to be uploaded to the archive. At Tara Schools we found thirteen Kaytetye books in the school and realised that six traditional stories have gone missing over the last few years. This is causing concern as it’s a highly endangered language.

Tommy Thompson a Kaytetye elder said that ‘It is good to put all the books in the computer so when Kaytetye people are in other places they can read their stories. Students who are at boarding schools can also read their language stories. It could keep Kaytetye language strong’ ‘Ahenawe nyarte-arenye pipe ritemaylenke  apmere kngwerel. Angke Kaytetye atyeynge artewentyel’

Katherine visit

Project officer Haidee McKittrick visited Katherine recently to share about the Living Archive project. She writes:


It was wonderful being in Katherine again, sharing the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages with friends, family and old acquaintances. Their response was overwhelmingly positive; people were excited about having access to the resources and were relieved that these precious stories were being preserved.

I met with people from many different groups in the region, including arts centres, cultural associations, health centres and training providers, covering everyone from pre-schoolers to aged care. While a number of people had not heard of the archive before, many had connections with the languages and stories in the archive, or even with the authors and illustrators of the materials on the site. Their minds were buzzing with innovative ways to use the books with their clients in their programs, and they were inspired to find or create more materials to add to the archive. Some made suggestions about improvements to the website, or recommended other people to contact, and we hope they’ll also be telling their friends and colleagues about the site.

Participants at the NT Library’s RIPIA workshop were also introduced to the archive by Trevor van Weeren, who encouraged them to engage with the materials in innovative ways, such as recording audio, creating video or animation, or adding information about the materials in there, such as English translations, or the names of people involved in creating these books.

Since this second stage of the project is all about engaging people with the materials in the archive, I can’t wait to see what comes of these fantastic connections. With all the exciting new partnerships discussed and great ideas and new possibilities shared, we’re very keen to follow up and help people make these ideas a reality.

Welcome to 2014

2014 is shaping up to be a huge year in the Living Archive project.

We’ll be aiming to complete many of the activities of Stage I of the project including

  • Materials
    • finish processing digitised files
    • finish checking and uploading to eSpace
    • prioritising additional records for digitisation and uploading
    • arrange export of metadata to OLAC
    • add audio and ebooks
  • Website
    • redo home page layout
    • create content site for updates, news, publicity, etc
    • make more records public as permissions are obtained
    • fix ‘Warning’ page
    • create ‘good faith’ notice
    • insert notes about rights holders
    • insert caveat about photos of deceased people
    • tidy up some inconsistencies in metadata
  • Publications
    • three papers currently under review
      • ACSA, LDC, Australian Archivist
    • four papers in preparation
      • launch booklet, Paradisec, user evaluation, technical paper
  • Other activities
    • launch the archive
    • negotiate licensing with NT Department of Ed
    • discuss licensing with other sources/publishers
    • adjust ISO codes if our changes are accepted

At the end of 2013 we had:

  • 1453 items uploaded to eSpace
  • 616 items publicly available on the website
  • 529 items ready to upload
  • approximately 1500 items still in preparation
  • several sources still untapped (other libraries, private collections)

Stage II will be exciting and we’re looking forward to working with our new partners

  • Batchelor Institute
  • Northern Territory Library
  • Catholic Education Office

and our existing partners

  • NT Department of Education
  • Australian National University

We’ll be meeting together early in February to plan how to get things moving.

Strap yourselves in!