Endangered resources: a program for collection and preservation 

Authors:
Date:
2013
Abstract:
Many academic institutions dedicated to documenting and conserving languages have established formal archival programs to preserve language and culture resources produced by contemporary researchers. However, materials produced during past work in linguistics and related fields also document endangered languages and cultures and require preservation. This paper will explore a program for rescuing these endangered resources. Retired researchers and language development workers possess unique resources such as field notes, field recordings,and photographs that document minority languages and cultures. As these language workers age, resources in their personal possession are subject to deterioration, abandonment, and disposal. Due to the nature of fieldwork, many resources originated and were stored for significant periods in environments unfriendly to preservation. Additionally, the individuals who possess these resources may be the only ones who can identify content in a language in which the archivist has no expertise. Collection of these unique items with accurate and complete metadata requires precious hours of interview and processing time. This institution’s archives is developing a program to contact its retired language workers for the purpose of discovering and collecting at-risk resources. For the past two years, we have equipped undergraduate interns to interview resource holders, create a catalog of items and metadata, digitize resources and package this information for submission to the archives. Plans to expand this program include hiring graduate research assistants to travel outside the local area and add formal oral history recording to the project. The results of this collection effort will include physical and/or digital stabilization of deteriorating resources and open access to heretofore undocumented resources for the benefit of language communities and researchers. This paper will reflect on past experiences and encourage dialogue about how this program can be refined, expanded, or adapted.
Extent:
23 pages
33 minutes
Subject:
SIL
Legacy Resources
Archiving
Content Language:
Nature of Work: