Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages at State Library of Queensland
The State Library of Queensland is committed to supporting the revival, reclamation and maintenance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in Queensland and promoting awareness and interest of Indigenous languages in the broader community.
In response to the National Indigenous Languages Survey Report (2005), the State Library of Queensland developed an Indigenous Languages Strategy. This strategy established a framework for the State Library’s role in supporting the preservation and promotion of Queensland Indigenous Languages through the work of the community-based Language Centres and language workers.
There are several sections of the State Library of Queensland that are actively involved in the implementation of language-related projects that support the Indigenous Languages Strategy. Activities may include community workshops, training activities, information sessions, educational activities, seminars, etc. Such activities and events are particularly relevant to community members researching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories and languages as well as raising awareness in the broader community.
John Oxley Library
Within the State Library, the John Oxley Library (JOL) plays a key role in documenting Queensland’s history, development and cultural life; historical and contemporary material relating to Queensland languages can be found here. While there is a diverse range of local resources in regional collections, e.g. public libraries, language centres and community collecting institutions, the JOL collection items complement these local resources:
- Web-based materials – virtual books, digital stories, etc.
- Original Materials – journals, diaries, notebooks, etc.
- Published Materials – books, journals, newspapers, etc.; and
- Audio-visual materials – sound recordings, DVDs, etc.
kuril dhagun – Indigenous Knowledge Centre
kuril dhagun is a hub within the State Library for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and hosts a range of activities, exhibitions and resources that raise awareness of the diversity of Indigenous cultures in Queensland. Further details
Indigenous Knowledge Centres
A network of Indigenous Knowledge Centres (IKCs) operate in partnership with Local Government and provide both traditional library services (including information and communication technologies) as well as a means and a place to capture and preserve local history and traditions, including languages. There are twenty-two IKCs across Queensland, predominantly on Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands. Further details
Indigenous Library Services
The State Library of Queensland, in partnership with many other organisations, aims to provide state-wide library services to Queensland Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders. Indigenous Library Services (ILS) advocates for the participation and inclusion of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders in all library services. Further details
Key activities [2006-2012]
Under the Indigenous Languages Strategy, the State Library has undertaken a range of projects and language related activities, including the following key initiatives:
- Indigenous Languages Researcher part-time position (2006-2012)
- kuril dhagun and Indigenous Knowledge Centres – language awareness activities (2006-2012)
- Community-based training: language skills, IT, recording, archival skills, etc.(2008-2011)
- Research Discovery Workshops: community access/research SLQ collections(2009-2012)
- Documentation, including digitisation of SLQ collections and resource guides (2006-2012)
- Development of language resources for community use, e.g. Gambara Gamu Biyu interactive body chart (2011)
Since 2009, the State Library has conducted bi-annual Indigenous Languages Research Discovery Workshops which allow increased access to the collections and build the capacity of communities to manage the processes of language revival. This focus aligns with the State Library of Queensland’s Enriching the lives of Queenslanders policy and facilitates the desire of Indigenous communities to manage their cultural heritage.
The most recent Research Discovery Workshop was held 26-28 March 2012 and attracted twenty-eight (28) participants from Torres Strait, Northern Peninsula Area, Cape York, North Queensland, Central Queensland, Fraser Coast and South-East Queensland – individuals had experience/interest in languages and worked in schools, museums, Indigenous Knowledge Centres (IKCs) and language centres. The number of languages being researched at the workshop numbered over fifty (50) – many of these are no longer spoken on a daily basis, hence there is a critical need for revival and preservation activities. The workshop and the language journeys of participants were documented through a digital story – there are two versions of the DVD; a two-minute overview and the full seven-minute story. Both versions are viewable on the SLQ Vimeo Channel
Digitisation of SLQ Collections
Digitisation of items from the State Library Collections remains a priority in the documentation and preservation of Indigenous languages. Priority items for 2012-2013 include historical materials such as the Meston Notebooks and Margaret Lawrie Collection. These digital resources are also made available and accessible to language workers and Indigenous community members per the State Library website as well as copies sent to the Indigenous Knowledge Centres.
‘Tags’ in OneSearch
Collection items at the State Library relating to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are gradually being ‘tagged’ with AIATSIS geographical and language codes to make it easier for research. For example, a OneSearch request on ‘Djirbal’ will identify three items in the collections; however there may be several different spellings for languages, hence the ‘tags’ for these items will include the AIATSIS Language Code y123 which will identify eighteen items in the collections. The AIATSIS Geographical Location Code (Qld SE55-05) will also be displayed in the subject details and provides another identifier for searches.
Appreciation of Queensland’s Indigenous Languages
The State Library is committed to actively increasing the awareness of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in the wider community, through public spaces such as the kuril dhagun Indigenous Knowledge Centre and through the network of public libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres (IKCs). In addition to the IKC network, the State Library collaborates with the 6 Queensland Indigenous Language Centres, community organisations and community-based language workers and other individuals to preserve this cultural heritage. A range of state-wide language projects are underway across this network including utilising ITC to record and document endangered languages. The State Library recognises these endeavours and seeks out opportunities for collaborative partnerships.
Community language programs are helping to bring languages alive for people who have not heard them spoken in their communities for many years. The programs involve recording speakers, making resources, and teaching in a variety of different settings.
19th century pastoral life on the Darling Downs comes alive in this intimate exhibition of treasures at SLQ
Garage Gamer at SLQ was Queensland’s first games space exclusively dedicated to local game lovers and game makers. The exhibition closed on 14 April 2013.
State Library of Queensland provides special library services for members who have an SLQ membership card (formerly known as an e-services card).