ENGAGING WITH REMOTE COMMUNITIES IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY: THE LIBRARIES AND KNOWLEDGE CENTRES PROGRAM

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  • ENGAGING WITH REMOTE COMMUNITIES IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY: THE LIBRARIESAND KNOWLEDGE CENTRES PROGRAMAuthor(s): Cate RichmondSource: Fontes Artis Musicae, Vol. 55, No. 1 (January-March 2008), pp. 165-169Published by: International Association of Music Libraries, Archives, and Documentation Centres(IAML)Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23512418 .Accessed: 14/06/2014 16:54

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  • ENGAGING WITH REMOTE COMMUNITIES IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY: THE LIBRARIES AND KNOWLEDGE CENTRES PRO GRAM Cate Richmond1

    English Abstract This article discusses remote library services in the Northern Territory, where the

    Northern Territory Library is assisting Indigenous communities to document and

    preserve their cultural heritage through the Libraries and Knowledge Centres

    Program. Local communities are now faced with preservations issues of both repatri

    ated local materials and of local collections and documentation in photographs, docu

    ments, and audio/video recordings. Many of these items are best preserved in a digi

    tal format, but this needs to be supported by a structure and organisation of the

    materials to provide easy retrieval and access. The Libraries and Knowledge Centres

    Program was developed in 2004 to address these needs.

    French Abstract

    Cet article examine les services proposs par les bibliothques en rgion rurale

    dans le Territoire du Nord, o la Bibliothque du Territoire du Nord aide les commu

    nauts indignes documenter et prserver leur hritage culturel par le biais du

    programme Bibliothques et centres du savoir. Les communauts locales sont

    aujourd'hui confronte aux questions de prservation la fois du matriel rapatri et

    de collections de documentations locales tels que des photographies, documents et

    enregistrements audiovisuels. Le format numrique semble tre le plus appropri la

    conservation de la plupart de ces documents, mais cela demande de les structurer

    afin de faciliter l'extraction des donnes et leur accs. Le programme Bibliothques

    et centres du savoir s'est dvelopp en 2004 et concerne ces besoins.

    German Abstract

    Dieser Artikel stellt Bibliotheksdienstleistungen im entlegenen Northern Territory vor. Durch das Libraries and Knowledge Centres Program" untersttzen Bibliotheken dort die Gemeinden der Ureinwohner dabei, ihr kulturelles Erbe zu dokumentieren und zu erhalten. Die rtlichen Gemeinden stehen vor der Aufgabe, lokale Samm

    lungen von Dokumenten, wie Fotos und Audio-/Videoaufnahmen, dauerhaft zu

    bewahren. Fr viele dieser Materialien ist eine digitale Speicherung das Mittel der

    1. Cate Richmond is Assistant Director, Public Libraries and Knowledge Centres, Northern

    Territory Library.

    165

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  • 166 FONTES ART1S MUSICAE 55/1

    Wahl. Hierzu muss jedoch eine entsprechende (technische) Umgebung geschaffen werden, um die Recherche und den Zugang zu den Materialien zu ermglichen. Das

    Libraries and Knowledge Centres Program" wurde 2004 geschaffen, um sich dieser

    Themenstellung zu widmen.

    The Libraries and Knowledge Centres (LKC) Program was developed in 2004

    in response to requests from Indigenous communities, who were seeking to

    preserve their cultural heritage and provide appropriate access to it. This is

    particularly important in the Northern Territory (NT), where nearly 30% of

    the population is Indigenous. There are approximately 40 distinct Aboriginal

    language groups throughout the NT, each with their own set of cultural tradi

    tions and practices. Unfortunately many of these cultures and languages are

    vulnerable or threatened by the influences of Western culture. Two-thirds of

    the Territory's Indigenous population lives in communities run by local

    Councils with poor infrastructure and staffing. Many communities are only ac

    cessible by air and/or four-wheel drive vehicle. The NT is the most sparsely

    populated region of Australia, representing about 1% of the Australian popula tion in one-sixth of the total land area. The distance between Darwin in the

    north and Alice Springs in the south of the Territory is almost 1300 kms, or

    over 800 miles. Northern Territory Library (NTL) is the major reference and research li

    brary and is administered by the NT Department of Local Government,

    Housing and Sport. One of NTL's roles is to provide public library services in

    partnership with local Councils. There are 6 municipal libraries and 22 com

    munity libraries, most of which are in isolated and remote Indigenous com munities. Each Community Library is staffed by one or more Community

    Library Officers (CLOs) and is usually open from between 15-30 hours per week. CLOs are employed by local Councils to operate the library and to pro vide library programs for community members. NTL has a small team of staff in Darwin and Alice Springs who visit communities as often as possible to sup

    port and train CLOs and to promote the use of the library to the community and other service providers. This Program was recently awarded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2007 Access to Learning Award for its work to im

    prove the lives of Indigenous Australians.2

    The LKC Program

    Many Indigenous communities are now focussing on the repatriation of local material and the preservation of photographs, documents and tape and video

    recordings. There is recognition that these items need to be preserved in a

    digital format. In communities where digitisation is well advanced, there is fur ther recognition of the need to structure and organise digital material so that it can be easily retrieved. There is high demand for access to local material and for personal copies of family photographs and recordings of songs and stories.

    2. See: Accessed 20/9/07.

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  • ENGAGING WITH REMOTE COMMUNITIES IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY 167

    The LKC program is made up of elements from conventional and non conventional library services, from which each community can select accord

    ing to its needs and references. Components of the model include a database of digitized historical and cultural materials, the library collection, and access to the internet and online resources. The strength of the model lies in the fact that it builds on existing infrastructure of the community library, and that it is sustainable through ongoing funding and support by NTL.

    A key component of the program is the Our Story database, which enables communities to establish digital collections of local knowledge and cultural re sources by creating, adding and repatriating content. Our Story uses the Ara

    Irititja software that was developed specifically for Pitjantjatjara communities in Central Australia. The database has a simple, user-friendly interface and a

    proven record of successful implementation and use by Indigenous people. An important feature of the database is the ability to restrict access to indi

    vidual items to cater for cultural sensitivities. Parts of the database can be cus tomised to reflect local names and language. NTL has negotiated a Territory wide licence for Ara Irititja, which allows it to be installed in all NT public libraries at no cost to communities. Ongoing licence fees are met by NTL.

    In all cases, the community owns the content in the database and data is stored according to rules set by community leaders. NTL's technical support and library management expertise ensure that content in the databases is ap propriately structured and stored, and is archived according to local require ments, as well as made accessible to the community.

    Many of the local databases contain a significant amount of material. The

    Wadeye Our Story has approximately 20,000 items and includes photographs from every clan group. Elders and community members continue to provide content to enrich items in the database by adding local stories and information.

    This is the really powerful part of the database: it facilitates user-generated content in an appropriate and accessible way. Material identified as "public" is accessible to the entire community through a computer located in the Wadeye LKC. Back-up p