Announcing Paradisec’s new catalogue

Over the last year or so, the Paradisec team, in collaboration with software developers Robot Parade, Silvia Pfeiffer and John Ferlito, have been working on the development of a replacement to our ageing catalogue and database systems and a couple of weeks ago, this work culminated in the release of the new catalogue.

There are several features of the software that represent a vast improvement over the previous catalogue, including a much simpler search function, for both collections and individual items, a Google Maps API as a way of exploring data (shown here) and, most usefully for our depositors, the ability to play their own files straight through the browser, or download them directly from the archive.

At the same time, the Paradisec team have been working with the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) to provide collection-level metadata to Research Data Australia (RDA) a federal initiative to aggregate metadata from research around the country using a standard metadata format and make it searchable and discoverable via the RDA website. The new catalogue automates this process, so that when a collection has the required metadata to maximise discoverability, it is harvested by RDA and appears in their database. As such it is important that depositors, or managers of others’ data, provide as rich metadata as possible.

While the software is still undergoing some post-release bug fixes and improvements, we welcome the public to explore the breadth and depth of data in the collection. Access to data itself however, is restricted to collectors and managers of those collections in line with Paradisec policy. Access to other people’s data is subject to access conditions.

We encourage interested readers to explore the collection, and we especially invite collectors of relevant data to get in contact with us to investigate depositing their collections with us for safekeeping.

5 thoughts on “Announcing Paradisec’s new catalogue”

  1. NIce!
    Couple of comments:
    Mangala’s in the wrong place (
    The catalogue’s a real teaser with so many (Australian at least) collections that aren’t authorised to be viewed. Any chance of a tiny bit of information about what those collections contain (e.g. with Mura it’s possible to see the item information, even if the item itself is unviewable).
    It’s not exactly clear from the main page how to download items. For example, it was not intuitive to me that clicking on “view metadata” would give a download link, especially given that from a page like, I am already viewing metadata.
    Is it possible to view view/download stats for items or collections deposited? That would be useful in assessing impact.

  2. Thanks Claire,

    We did have a couple of issues of geographic data and some languages were inexplicably moved, often by a factor of 180º. We thought we’d caught them all!

    When you say you can see some information about the item in Mura, even if the item itself is unavailable, do you mean that the item is unavailable to be accessed but the metedata is? Quite a number of our collections include items that have been marked ‘private’ by the collectors, meaning we cannot show even the metadata. We discourage doing so unless it is for culturally salient reasons (like that a recording contains very sensitive information, how to curse someone, and so forth). Can you give an example?

    Downloading items is only for collectors and managers of others’ collections. However, I don’t believe we have incorporated any ‘request this item’ button. I’ll suggest this to the team.

    Stats would be useful, I agree. What sort of stats should be displayed, and to whom? Number of collections, number of files, items, total audio duration, that sort of data? Or how many ‘hits’ and how many downloads?

  3. Yep – for example, for some records in Mura, you can see something like “Bardi men’s ceremonial singing, recorded by A R Peile c. 1965. Gender restricted; can only be listened to by initiated Bardi men.” Whereas for paradisec catalogue, you get “collection BA10 cannot be viewed,” with the only information being the language name. The former is much more useful, because it’s easy to see why it’s not public, and it’s also easy to see that that there’s no reason for me to investigate getting access to the materials. Thinking about my own Bardi materials, parts of the collection are restricted for all sorts of different reasons and at lots of levels. Some restrictions were placed on them by the community, others by me, and some are more “you can use the materials as long as you’ve got a reason to have them.” That is, the community didn’t want to put them on the web without requiring people to ask permission, because of the likes of Philip M. Parker and other data-slurpers, but for people who are asking permission and saying what they’ll do with it, for most of the collection they are highly likely to get permission. That’s very different from gender-restricted materials, where permission wouldn’t be granted except under very special circumstances. But that can only be seen from the metadata. ELAR’s model is quite good for this, by the way.
    For stats, I think the more the merrier of all types. I’m particularly interested in views and downloads, but others would be useful too. They should at least be viewable by collection owners, and maybe others too (wouldn’t do any harm).

  4. I really like the new interface.

    As regards the access policy – “Access to data itself however, is restricted to collectors and managers of those collections in line with Paradisec policy.” – is there any chance that some of the data might be opened up to those who have signed up? I would love to listen to some of the audio files, but haven’t yet found anything I have the permission to download.

  5. We’re still working to implement a system whereby files can be downloaded if they are open access, and if the user agrees to certain conditions, such as the files only being used for education or research purposes, no commercial activity, etc. Hopefully it won’t be too long.

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