Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Curating with Community: Indigenous Knowledge Informing Cultural Collections #wlic2015

More liveblogging from the IFLA Indigenous Matters Special Interest Group session at the World Library and Information (IFLA) Conference taking place in Cape Town, South Africa. Curating with Community: Indigenous Knowledge Informing Cultural Collections was presented by Damien Webb (State Library of Western Australia, Australia). There is a paper at Although Webb was not present, he had recorded the presentation, starting with a traditional welcome to the country.
The State Library's four key areas are: heritage and history; creative community engagement (cultural events, outreach etc.); supporting the public library network; championing literacy and learning. He was presenting the Storylines project at the State Library of Western Australia, an online keeping place:
They have developed software collaboratively with the community, and there is a central archive (with things kept private if it is culturally sensitive) and community keeping places (the librarians help the community set up the system locally). After digitisation, items are repatriated to communities if they wish it (digitally or sometimes physically). The speaker showed how the system allowed rich information to be presented with the photographs and documents to explain their context and place. You can see this by exploring the website.

Webb highlighted that there were geographical barriers to enabling people to have physical access to libraries. Language was also a challenge, as there were more than 100 language groups and English is often a 2nd and 3rd language. Before the storylines project, people would have had to travel far and negotiate alien systems to get access to photographs of their family that the library might have.

However, Storylines has made this material more accessible, and local language overlays are also being worked on, so a high degree of literacy is not required. The service has built in cultural restrictions and sorrow protocols, with secret or sacred material kept private. Community ownership has been vital in the success of the project. Storylines also works as a platform for digital and information literacy training.

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