Archival Science

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 191–212 | Cite as

Local archives and community collecting in the digital age

  • Lyndon Ormond-ParkerEmail author
  • Robyn Sloggett
Original paper


Aboriginal communities in Australia have adopted new information technologies in innovative ways. The most well known is the Ara Irititja project software, now increasingly adopted by many local community groups in Australia. These developments demand a policy response from public collecting institutions and governments. There is a raft of opportunities being presented by current archival and record-keeping, and information and record-development programs and activities in Aboriginal communities. These include economic empowerment through the development and distribution of new products; community empowerment through “owning” histories, stories, images and other associated material and being able to manage the context of, and access to this material; and the development of opportunities for young people. Accompanying these opportunities, however, are serious threats to the protection, preservation, collection and use of this material. These threats are both immediate and long-term and include technology changes and format shifting; physical threats to local collections; the lack of IT expertise and archival knowledge; a lack of knowledge or agreement on the archiving system, standards and principles, and many others. This paper proposes that archives held, and being developed in Aboriginal communities, are developed as a nationally distributed collection with community-generated protocols and community-based management, supported within a fully integrated national framework.


Information technology Archives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Digital Collections Australia Archive preservation 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the Mulka Project, Ara Irititja Project, Waringarri Aboriginal Arts and Warmun Arts Centre. The Australian Research Council funded research through the Research Council Discovery Indigenous Researchers Development scheme. We would like to thank the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Indigenous Visiting Research Fellowships Program. We would like to acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people whose lives have been recorded in archives globally and acknowledge those communities that undertake research in archives and who return information to their families and communities and have built their own local digital archives.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation and The Centre for Health and Society, School of Population HealthThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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