Managing Indigenous Digital Data: an exploration of the Our Story database in Indigenous Libraries and Knowledge Centres of the Northern Territory

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Gibson, J. (2009) Managing Indigenous Digital Data: an exploration of the Our Story database in Indigenous Libraries and Knowledge Centres of the Northern Territory
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The following report explores the management of Indigenous data within the Northern Territory Library’s Our Story databases, installed at 14 sites across the Northern Territory (see Appendix C). The information contained within this report will assist University of Technology Sydney (UTS) researchers with data management planning, will inform the development of protocols regarding digital repatriation to Indigenous communities, and will also assist in the development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data Archive (ATSIDA) website. In a broader sense the work will be incorporated into the initial stages of building an Indigenous node of the Australian Social Science Data Archive at the University of Technology Sydney. Implementation of the Our Story database is an excellent example of the way in which an Australian library service can make serious attempts to improve Indigenous access to information via digital technology. The Our Story database forms a critical component of the Northern Territory Library’s ‘Libraries and Knowledge Centres’ (LKC) program, which has concentrated on the development of digital information delivery in remote Indigenous communities for the past five years. Other relevant models of Indigenous Knowledge Management in the Australian context are also discussed within this report, but the main focus is upon the LKC program, which is arguably the most well-developed of its type within Australia. This report is divided into three sections. Section one provides an overview of the LKC program and outlines a brief description of the Our Story database, including some of its strengths and weaknesses. Section two comprehensively explores the challenges associated with developing a digital collection in the remote Indigenous context. This incorporates a discussion of key aspects of the LKC model, including repatriation of material in digital form, establishment of protocols reflective of Indigenous cultural values, and the provision of support and training. The third section presents an overview of issues associated with the up-take and use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in Aboriginal communities and, in particular, peoples current attitudes to online digital archives. The final section of the report discusses the possible specifications of future Indigenous data archive systems and offers perspectives on some of the issues that may continue to challenge these programs in the long-term.
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