Archive for the ‘News’ Category.

PARADISEC stats for 2014

It has been quite some time since our last update on the contents of the PARADISEC archive. Since our report on this blog two years ago, we have added 88 collections bringing the total to 265 collections. There are now 9,836 items and 60,516 digitised recordings, images and videos in the archive, which is now 7.35 TB in size. The archive now includes over 4000 hours of audio.

Some of the collections that have recently been archived include Lamont Lindstrom’s Kwamera recordings from Vanuatu, Malcolm Ross’ Papua New Guinea recordings, Roger Blench’s Niger-Congo recordings, Renée Lambert-Brétière’s  Kwoma and Tok Pisin recordings (PNG) and Don Daniels’ materials from Madang Province of PNG. A collection of particular interest is Ted Schwartz’s tapes, dating from the 1950s when he did fieldwork on Manus Island with Margaret Mead.

We have also had our catalogue improved by users providing feedback, allowing us to correct names of participants, and generally enriching information about some of our older material that otherwise has little metadata.

In Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, we are working on getting a few new collections into the archive including Margaret Jolly’s Vanuatu tapes, Lynne McDonald’s Western Solomons recordings and some new manuscript pages from Arthur Capell’s Fiji collection, which are currently being imaged and will be added to PARADISEC’s already extensive collection of Capell images.

Imagine … a world without PARADISEC

Imagine … a world without memories is the evocative and chilling title of a project organised by the National Committee of Australia for the UNESCO Memory of the World.

Memory of the World event

Memory of the World event 14/5/2013 Adelaide

Through the Australian Memory of the World Register, the Committee, mostly volunteers, are building public awareness of the importance of maintaining records and objects associated with events important to many people. It’s harder to burn down a library if the people who see the flames believe the burning contents are valuable to them. [burn down = de-fund].

In 2001, the first items were added to the Australian Register: James Cook’s Endeavour journal, the Mabo case documents, and landmark constitutional documents. Not a bad balance. This year, 11 items were added, bringing the total to 49.

The event of inscribing these items in the register took place on 14 May 2013 in the splendid Mortlock Chamber of the South Australian State Library with its vaulted ceiling and storied galleries of books. Before the ceremony, I wandered past the Treasures Wall, looking at nineteenth century collections of things and their representations: birds’ eggs, illustrations and classifications of beetles, plants and mushrooms, geological maps, diaries, and J B Cleland’s notes from the Taman Shud case.

Master Henry Gilbert's bird egg collection

Master Henry Gilbert’s bird egg collection

These South Australian realia collections made a good frame for thinking about the parallels between them and the kinds of documents inscribed in the Australian Register. Some of the 11 new items were as curious as the pie-dish beetle, others as well organised as the fungus collection, others as decorative as Fiveash’s wildflower paintings, still others — like the records of indentured labourers and convicts — promising stories as sad and sinister as Taman Shud.

Jared Thomas, a Nukunu writer and researcher gave a short speech saying how helpful and important the documentations of the past was — and he mentioned the Norman Tindale collection, one of the 11 new treasures. This has been important for him as a writer, and for him as a Nukunu given the Nukunu native title claims. People could take or challenge the representations given in the early documentation, and could move to the future equipped with a strong understanding of the present and a very strong understanding of the past.

Almost all items come from large state or national institutions with recurrent funding. The items range from sound recordings, the John Meredith folklore collection* of the National Library, to the Holtermann collections of glass negatives taken by Beaufoy Merlin and Charles Bayliss of the Hill End, Mudgee and Gulgong goldfields (State Library of NSW) and F E Williams’ photographs of Papua New Guinea (National Archives and South Australian Museum), to individual items like Colonel William Light’s plan of Adelaide (State Library of South Australia), Thomas Burstow’s eyewitness diary of the bombing raids on Darwin (Northern Territory Library), and three diaries of the goldfields (including Edward Snell’s lovely illustrated diary) (State Library of Victoria), to particular types of records (Convict Records of Western Australia 1838–1910 (State Records Office of Western Australia), and Queensland South Sea Island Indentured Labourer Records 1863–1908 (Queensland State Archives)), to the comprehensive records of the first 50 years of the University of Adelaide.

2013-05-14 22.51.12

So it is pretty wonderful that, only ten years after its beginning, and without recurrent fundng, UNESCO has recognised the importance of PARADISEC’s collection through inscribing it on this list. And it follows on PARADISEC’s inclusion in the ‘UNESCO Register of Good Practices in Language Preservation [.doc]’ in 2005. This recognition is a tribute to collaboration — to Linda Barwick and Nick Thieberger and their team, to their universities, and to how much they have achieved on shoestrings. (Note: you can strengthen PARADISEC’s shoestring by sponsoring them — and it’s tax-deductible).

* This award was accepted by Kevin Bradley, and it was a great pleasure to thank him once again for all the help and advice he gave PARADISEC when it was still an egg.

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.

PARADISEC’s ‘Data Seal of Approval’

As we approach our tenth year of operation, it is gratifying that PARADISEC has achieved this seal of approval (DSA), based on 16 criteria (listed below, and see how we meet these criteria here: We have been a five-star Open Language Archives Community repository for some time, which also means that we are one of the 1800 archives whose catalog and metadata conform to the Open Archives Initiative standards, but the DSA looks more broadly at the whole process of the repository, from accession of records, through their description and curation and to disaster management. This is important for our depositors to know as they can be sure that their research output is properly described and curated, and can be found using various search tools, including google, but more specifically the Australian National Data Service, OLAC and the WorldCat, and also the aggregated information served in the Virtual Language Observatory.

Continue reading ‘PARADISEC’s ‘Data Seal of Approval’’ »

PARADISEC prepare for new catalogue as old catalogue grows

With the upgrade to a new catalogue system just around the corner, PARADISEC staff are busily fine-tuning metadata within existing collections whilst attending to business as usual and  accessioning recordings and documents representing a wide range of languages. Take a glimpse of our latest additions and the regions they originate from below to get a feel for the linguistic diversity that is developing within our archives:








Collector Collection Description Date of recording Country Language University
ALB01 Andrea Berez Documentation of Ahtna Athabascan language of Alaska 2009 – 2010 Alaska Ahtena University of California, Santa Barbara
BA1 Barry Alpher Recordings of conversations 1996 – 1997 Australia Gugubera and Yir Yoront University of Melbourne
CF1 Cathy Falk Recordings of the Tarawangsa-kacapi ensemble from six locations in West Java, Indonesia 1974, 1977, 1979 West Java, Indonesia Sunda University of Melbourne
CR1 Calvin Roesler Folktales, origins, customs, songs, daily life and linguistic analysis 1955 – 1998 Papua, Indonesia Asmat, Central
DH1 Deborah Hill Recordings of clan history, basket weaving and folk tales 1989 Solomon Islands Longgu Australian National University
DL1 Don Laycock Biwat language documentation (Papua New Guinea) 1958 – 1978 Papua New Guinea Biwat Australian National University
GH2 Gary Holton This collection documents languages of Alor-Pantar, Indonesia, with a focus on the Western Pantar (Lamma) language 1996 – 2007 Indonesia Lamma University of Alaska
GW1 Geoffrey White History, folktales and legends 1975 – 1976 Solomon Islands Cheke Holo University of Hawaii
JH1 John Harris Transcriptions and audio recordings from Kiwaumai village, Uramu Island, PNG 1964 – 1967 Papua New Guinea Kiwai, Northeast Australian National University
JN2 John Newman A collection  of recordings, transcriptions, and other materials 2001, 2007, 2011 New Zealand , Papua New Guinea Tulu-Bohuai University of Alberta
LG1 Lauren Gawne Sessions mainly conducted in Nepali and Yolmo 2009 Nepal Helambu Sherpa University of Melbourne
MG1 Murray Groves Reel to Reel Magnetic tapes mainly concerning the Motu people of Papua 1957 – 1973 Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa Motu, Tongan, Samoan Australian National University
NT10 Nick Thieberger Warnman language and songs 1988-2011 Australia Wanman (Warnman) University of Melbourne
NT5 Nick Thieberger Digital recordings made between 2000 and 2008, both audio and video 2000 – 2008 Vanuatu Efate, South University of Melbourne
RB1 Robert Blust Recordings of languages from Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea 1971 Malaysia Bintulu, Sa’ban University of Hawaii
RS1 Ruth Singer Ruth Singer’s recordings from north-west Arnhem Land, mainly Mawng at Warruwi (Goulburn Island) but also some other languages and locations 2004 – 2010 Australia Gunwinggu (Kunwinjku), Iwaidja, Maung (Mawng), Kunbarlang University of Melbourne
SUY1 Lauren Gawne Audio recordings of grammatical elicitation and words lists, audio and video recordings of stories 2010 – 2012 Nepal Kagate, Nepali University of Melbourne
TTK1 Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka Two recordings made in English and Pijin 1992 Solomon Islands English, Pijin University of Hawaii
WD1 Wayne Dye Bahinemo Language and Culture: including audio texts, photos, videos of cultural activities, transcriptions, glossary of around 3000 words with English and some Tok Pisin glosses, phonology paper, a grammar paper and various other analyses. 1964 – 1989, 2007, 2008 Papua New Guinea Bahinemo

The latest stats at PARADISEC

PARADISEC now holds 177 collections containing 7,516 items and 59,083 files that are 5.59 TB in size. There are 3,310 hours of audio recordings in the collection. The catalog of these collections can be viewed via the Australian National Data Service, or the Open Language Archives Community or the Virtual Language Observatory.

Since our last report, Nick Fowler-Gilmore, the Audio Preservation Officer in the Sydney office, has completed the digitisation of Calvin Roesler‘s tapes (CR1) the last of which were his 1959 recordings in Asmat. See the fieldnotes and a summary of the collection at
Continue reading ‘The latest stats at PARADISEC’ »


This year at PARADISEC our collections grew as follows:

January 2011 / December 2011
159/172 collections
6,972 /7,422 items
46,900 /58,680 files
5.02 /5.46 TB
2880:25/3185:43 hours

We are always in negotiation with prospective depositors about collections, for example, we are working with Theodore Schwartz to accession his wonderful 1950s Manus (PNG) recordings (made with Margaret Mead) and have accessioned John Harris’s PNG recordings from the 1960s. Not all negotiations are successful however. For example, we offered to work with the Basel Kultur Museum to digitise Fr. John Z’graggen’s 500 tapes from the Madang region of PNG, but so far that offer has not been taken up.

We continue to be an exemplary five-star Open Language Archives Community (OLAC) collection, which means our metadata is among the few OLAC archives with the highest quality rating. The content of the metadata relies on depositors, so we have focused on making it as easy as possible for a minimal metadata set to be entered and then enhanced over time. Our metadata is also harvested at the collection-level by the Australian National Data Service.

Continue reading ‘PARADISEC’s 2011’ »

The Growing PARADISEC Collection

Following on from Aidan’s blog last week announcing that PARADISEC‘s archive has reached 2000 hours of recordings, here is some of the detail about what’s in our digital archive. Along with Mark Durie’s collection from Aceh, described in the last post, are other collections from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, China, the Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hawaii, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, Lao, Malaysia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Reunion, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Vietnam, and Wallis and Futuna.

Continue reading ‘The Growing PARADISEC Collection’ »

Renovations, Repairs and Repositories

A lot of work has been happening at the University of Sydney over the past six months, and at the end of last year the top floor of the Transient Building, which houses Linguistics, Paradisec and a few other offices, got renovated. Unfortunately, since the entire exterior of the building is composed of fibrous asbestos, it’s unlikely that the University will outlay the mammoth insurance costs to do any exterior work. But anyone who knows the Transient building knows that the best option would be to demolish the whole thing and start again from scratch.

Continue reading ‘Renovations, Repairs and Repositories’ »

Paradisec’s PNG Music recordings and the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies

Several PNG newspapers have recently been reporting on the exchange of PNG music recordings between Paradisec and the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies. One article in the National Weekender is already available online, and we’ll put a copy of the other one up on our website when we get a hold of it.
“Institute of PNG Studies Gets Music Recordings.” National Weekender 27 April, 2007
“PNG Archival Music on Disc.” Gavamani Sivarai April, 2007