Creating digital keeping places with Ara Irititja. John Geijsman, State Library of Western Australia. Storylines noun /staw-ree-lynes/.
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Creating digital keeping places with Ara Irititja John Geijsman, State Library of Western Australia
Storylines noun /staw-ree-lynes/ 1: An online archive of Western Australian Aboriginal heritage material designed to repatriate and reinterpret SLWA collections, particularly photographs.2: A network of community-run digital keeping places for local heritage materials including secret and sacred material. “Work in partnership with Aboriginal people to collect and restore community memory, and create literacy and learning opportunities.” storylines.slwa.wa.gov.au(Flash enabled devices and computers only) SLWA Strategic Directions 2013-17
Why do we need Storylines? • Aboriginal access to heritage materials was previously restricted by physical and cultural barriers. • Library collections contain inherited institutional and historical biases. • Thousands of photographs were taken of Aboriginal people but very few were identified and even fewer have been returned to living descendants and families. Original catalogue description:“Group of fourteen unidentified men, women and one child. Some holding spears and woomera. Body markings and adornments.”BA888/8 State Library of Western Australia
Learning from the community • Storylines allows us to identify the location and date of many photographs, as well as specific individuals and their stories. • Wajarri elders informed us of the identity of Nyoolurngoo in this image from 1890 as well as the correct location and language group. • We could then link to other sources such as the Daisy Bates article from 1909. BA888/8 State Library of Western Australia
Community access and memory • Archive searchable by name, place or language. • Aboriginal knowledge including the names of places, plants and animals can be recorded and shared, as well as being linked to photographs, books, videos, oral histories and music. • Clients can easily add their own annotations (stories) to items in the archive, including names, corrections and background information. • Photographs can be accessed and printed at no cost. Mary, Yondi and Sherika looking at old photos in Mowanjum, 2014.
Ron Williams One of the first photos added to the system and an easy favourite – it depicts Ron Williams at Cundeelee with his accordion in 1954 (he’s also on our postcards). “He had gained the reputation as a custodian of Aboriginal grassroots history. Not an author of anthropological treatises such as published by universities, or of the political diatribes printed in the newspaper headlines, but a keeper of stories from the heart, treasures held secret within the Aboriginal consciousness, guarded carefully lest they fall into hands of exploitation…”Diana Williams (Ron’s wife) BA1203/511 State Library of Western Australia Horizon is Where Heaven and Earth Meet (2001) BA1203/725 State Library of Western Australia
So many stories… In 18 months… • More than 50 previously unknown people unidentified • 2100 photographs currently in the system • Hundreds of plants, animals and places tagged and profiled. • More than 60 hours of liaison and consultation work with local Aboriginal elders and groups. Geoffrey Dynevor was the first Aboriginal athlete to win a Commonwealth Gold medal (BA1203/962) Nora Shea – the first Aboriginal woman to enter the Western Australian Public Service (BA1272/32) Pearl Ashwin, nurse and winner of the Daisy Bates award for civic achievement (BA368/6/278)
Digital Keeping Places To complement the central Storylines archive we are working with remote communities to build locally owned and run instances of the Ara Irititja software. The first of these was launched earlier this year at Mowanjum Community in the Kimberley. • Photos were repatriated from SLWA collections to Mowanjum. • Local collections of photographs, video and sound files were added and tagged by community members. • Restrictions built into the system to reflect cultural protocols of the local Wunambal, Worrora and Ngarinyin peoples. SLWA Staff at Mowanjum in April 2014
What’s next? • 3 more remote community instances to be set up over the next 2 years, starting with Yawuru (Broome) in late 2014. • Access and identification points within the State Library of Western Australia buliding. • Further training opportunities for State Library staff in cultural competency, Aboriginal history and the Storylines system. • Development of education and training programs/resources using the Storylines archive. • Partnerships with Aboriginal organisations to further promote the project and engage Aboriginal knowledge holders.
Find out more at storylines.slwa.wa.gov.auor contact the project team:firstname.lastname@example.org / (08) 9427 3237