Digitisation for Pacific cultural materials

Nick Thieberger, University of Melbourne

The Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC) has been operating for 20 years, a partnership between the ANU and the universities of Melbourne and Sydney, and mainly focused on records in languages that are otherwise under-represented on the web. The urgent task the PARADISEC focusses on is finding and digitising analog tapes that are at risk of loss, as there is a deadline of 2025 after which tapes will become unplayable. As they built the necessary structure to hold and describe these files, they also broadened the holdings to include manuscripts, photographs, film, dictionaries, text collections, and other representations of language or cultural performance. PARADISEC also holds a significant number of born-digital files arising from fieldwork over the past 20 years.

A major development over time has been the relationships that PARADISEC has established with agencies in the Pacific, like the Vanuatu Cultural Centre and the Solomon Islands National Museum, to support their digitisation programs and to return materials that were previously only held in Australia. In this seminar Nick Thieberger shows how PARADISEC’s new systems can increase access, permitting sub-collections to be delivered to local cultural agencies containing material relevant to that country. He outlines how PARADISEC works, some highlights of its Pacific collection, and how to find material in the collections.

Speaker Bio

Nick Thieberger set up the Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre in the late 1980s, then worked at AIATSIS. His PhD research was in Vanuatu and his main focus has become finding, digitizing, and providing access to language records, primarily through the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC) of which he is Director. He currently also leads the development of Nyingarn, a platform for manuscript sources on Australian languages. He is an Associate Professor in the School of Languages and Linguistics, University of Melbourne.

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