Archiving cultural heritage for current and future generations

I am the data manager for the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (CoEDL, a cross-institutional research group of over 400 affiliated members investigating the science of language. Our researchers work with indigenous communities and speakers of under-documented, oftentimes endangered languages throughout Asia and the Pacific. Our chosen repository for this cultural material is the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC,

PARADISEC file browser built to be used with a local wi-fi network transmitter (LibraryBox or Raspberry Pi) enabling access to archived content with any device with a wifi receiver. Photo by Nick Thieberger

It is not only our goal to keep the collected cultural material safe and to adhere to the FAIR data principles, ensuring the materials are findable, interoperable, accessible, and reusable, but it is also a priority to make sure people who provided the researcher with their cultural material to have access to it.

The design of PARADISEC offers an environment for well-structured data, persistent links in the form of digital object identifiers (DOIs), and standardised metadata allowing depositors to build alternative access points to their content in the archive.

For example, for community users who have internet access, web-portals can be designed with specific users in mind to present the archived material in a curated manner, pointing directly to the DOIs in the PARADISEC catalog, organising the content by location, genre or speaker. An example of this can be found here:

If a community does not have access to computers or wifi, we have had great success in creating small wifi hotspots with RaspberryPi devices. People in remote regions can use any device with a wifi receiver (smart phone, tablet, laptop) to navigate to the URL of the target collection’s pre-configured browser allowing people to download image, audio and video content directly to their devices.

PARADISEC and CoEDL are continually working alongside the depositors and community users, striving to find better ways to return archived material back to the speaker communities in the most useful format for them as well as creating access to this content for researchers and the general public across the globe.

By Dr Julia Colleen Miller
Senior Data Manager
ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language
College of Asia and the Pacific l The Australian National University