Sustaining language diversity: the role of public libraries.
Linguistic diversity is an essential part of the living heritage of humanity. Libraries have developed within literate cultures and have traditionally promoted linguistic diversity through a wealth of resources and services to diverse communities. The focus for public libraries now is to engage with new and emerging communities from oral cultures. This has led to the libraries in Queensland reevaluating their collections and services to be inclusive of inclusive of
Taking into consideration or account; including. the tangible and intangible cultural heritage The notion of intangible cultural heritage emerged in the 90s, as a counter part to the World Heritage that focusses mainly on tangible aspects of culture. In 2001, UNESCO made a survey among States and NGOs to try to agree on a definition, and a Convention for future generations. Edited version of a paper presented at the November 2007 Queensland Multicultural mul·ti·cul·tur·al
1. Of, relating to, or including several cultures.
2. Of or relating to a social or educational theory that encourages interest in many cultures within a society rather than in only a mainstream culture. Summit
Of the languages that are spoken in the world, the most significant for our early emotional and cognitive development is that through which we first learn to name our personal universe and by means of which we begin to achieve a common understanding with our parents and the broader community or friends and school. It is the language of childhood, of intimate family experience and of our early social relations ... All languages [should be] given equal recognition, for each is a unique response to the human condition and each is a living heritage we should cherish ... (1)
At least half of the 6,000 or so languages spoken in the world are under threat. Over the past three centuries languages have disappeared at a dramatic and steadily increasing pace, including in Australia. The Pacific region contains more than 2,000 living languages, a third of the world's total.
From an Indigenous perspective, Australia has always been a multilingual mul·ti·lin·gual
1. Of, including, or expressed in several languages: a multilingual dictionary.
2. country. Yet Australia is considered an area of crisis, with Indigenous languages Noun 1. indigenous language - a language that originated in a specified place and was not brought to that place from elsewhere
language, linguistic communication - a systematic means of communicating by the use of sounds or conventional symbols; "he taught foreign disappearing the fastest. Aboriginal people were discouraged or forbidden from speaking their 250 or so languages until the 1970s. A large number have disappeared or are in danger. Only about 25 are still commonly spoken, and there is increasing awareness that Indigenous languages in Australia are endangered en·dan·ger
tr.v. en·dan·gered, en·dan·ger·ing, en·dan·gers
1. To expose to harm or danger; imperil.
2. To threaten with extinction. to the point that all of them may disappear in the next few decades. (2) For example, in Queensland, excluding Creole, only four languages have over 500 speakers and are considered relatively strong. (3)
Despite this grim picture, the reality is that languages and linguistic diversity is an essential part of the living heritage of humanity, and is the mainspring of cultural diversity. It is often called intangible cultural heritage.
Unesco's 2003 Convention for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, defines this as
... the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills--as well as the instruments, objects, artifacts and cultural spaces associated therewith--that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity. (4)
The role of public libraries
Languages, oral traditions, music, dance, social practices, rituals and festive fes·tive
1. Of, relating to, or appropriate for a feast or festival.
2. Merry; joyous: a festive party. events, are among some of the vehicles of intangible cultural heritage. Public libraries play an important role in ensuring they stay alive.
Public libraries offer a range of collections, services and public programs to all members of the community. They also offer the opportunity for specific targeted services promoting linguistic diversity which respond to the needs of ethnic and Indigenous communities. Many of these services safeguard and promote the so called vehicles of intangible cultural heritage for future generations.
Libraries are institutions that have developed within literate cultures and have traditionally promoted linguistic diversity through print collections and electronic print resources. There is, however, a growing need in public libraries to engage with new and emerging communities from oral cultures. This has led to a rethinking of collections and services.
This process has been guided and nurtured by a number of strategies, guidelines guidelines,
n.pl a set of standards, criteria, or specifications to be used or followed in the performance of certain tasks. and standards. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (Ifla) 2007 draft Multicultural communities: guidelines for library services offers a big picture perspective. Ifla's first goal in its strategic plan is to
Promote, in our global society, access to a full range of library and information services suitable for linguistic, ethnic, and cultural minorities. (5)
Ifla recognises the important role libraries play in promoting languages and cultures worldwide. They act as learning centres, cultural centres, and as meeting places. (6)
The Queensland response
Library strategies, policies and guidelines are available throughout many state and public libraries in Australia. Within Queensland, for example, the State Library of Queensland The State Library of Queensland is a large public library provided to the people of the State of Queensland, Australia, by the State Government. Its legislative basis is provided by the Queensland Libraries Act 1988. is an advocate and a financial partner of a statewide public library network, which includes over 330 public libraries and 15 Indigenous knowledge centres The State Library of Queensland established Indigenous Knowledge Centre's (IKC's), serve as information hubs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout Queensland. . It is committed to, and makes readily available to all public library staff and their users, the Multicultural services strategy: embracing diversity. (7)
Its draft Multicultural library standards is currently being reviewed by representatives from public libraries throughout Queensland. The strategy and the draft guidelines all highlight the importance placed on preserving and promoting linguistic diversity in Queensland.
The State Library's 2007-2011 Enriching the lives of Queenslanders strategic plan (8) has as one of its aims the use of new technologies in enhancing delivery of library services and engaging programs for the enrichment enrichment Food industry The addition of vitamins or minerals to a food–eg, wheat, which may have been lost during processing. See White flour; Cf Whole grains. and enjoyment of all.
One of three strategic priorities, Queensland memory: today for tomorrow, commits the State Library to
* leading the capture and preservation of Queensland's cultural and documentary heritage
* leading the development of services and programs to improve access to Queensland memory
* partnering with Queensland's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Torres Strait (tŏr`ĭz, –rĭs), channel, c.95 mi (153 km) wide, between New Guinea and Cape York Peninsula of Australia. It connects the Arafura and Coral seas. Islander communities to record Indigenous knowledge, culture and histories
* leading the development of a Queensland digital content strategy.
It is anticipated that oral histories will become an important focus of Queensland memory, recognising that many migrant mi·grant
1. One that moves from one region to another by chance, instinct, or plan.
2. An itinerant worker who travels from one area to another in search of work.
Migratory. , refugee and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities record their stories in an oral tradition, including through music and song. Multimedia formats will increasingly be used as part of the focus on digital content.
This paper gives some examples of how the State Library and public libraries throughout Queensland play a role in sustaining language diversity.
Three of the more established statewide services are the Languages other than English LOTE or Languages Other Than English is the name given to language subjects at Australian schools. LOTEs have often historically been related to the policy of multiculturalism, and tend to reflect the predominant non-English languages spoken in a school's local area, the (Lote) collection, the multilingual websites, such as Multicultural bridge and MyLanguage, and the Picture Queensland website.
All Queensland public libraries have access to the State Library's Lote collection, which has over 100,000 titles in more than 60 languages. This is a free service. In recent years multimedia formats have been added to this collection as a means of recognising and promoting multiple literacies. English as a Second Language (ESL (1) An earlier family of client/server development tools for Windows and OS/2 from Ardent Software (formerly VMARK). It was originally developed by Easel Corporation, which was acquired by VMARK. ) materials, learning kits in many languages, and Auslan learning materials for the deaf community are other examples of collections promoting linguistic diversity and available to all Queenslanders.
The second service that is available statewide through public libraries is a range of multilingual websites. The State Library has the Multicultural bridge (9) website in 19 languages, and also promotes the MyLanguage (10) website of approximately 60 languages, which is a national initiative between Australia's state libraries to increase access to online information for diverse communities. Both websites act as gateways to sites with many more languages.
The Picture Queensland
The third service is one that celebrates the unique cultural heritage of Queensland's diverse communities, the Picture Queensland website. (11)
Many of Queensland's public libraries contribute to Picture Queensland which itself is a contributor to the National Library of Australia's Picture Australia database of over two million Australian images.
Newer statewide initiatives
The Indigenous languages project
The first initiative described is the State Library's Indigenous languages project. This supports the preservation and maintenance of Queensland Indigenous languages through partnerships with language centres, people who work with languages, speakers, linguists A linguist in the academic sense is a person who studies linguistics. Ambiguously, the word is sometimes also used to refer to a polyglot (one who knows more than 2 languages), or a grammarian, but these two uses of the word are distinct. , publishers, Aboriginal and Tortes Strait strait (strat) a narrow passage.
straits of pelvis the pelvic inlet(superior pelvic s.) and pelvic outlet(inferior pelvic s.) .
n. Islander broadcasters, cultural corporations, pubic pubic /pu·bic/ (pu´bik) pertaining to or situated near the pubes, the pubic bone, or the pubic region.
1. libraries and local councils. It is guided by those partners in devising strategies to support languages and in developing appropriate services.
This project is in response to the findings of the 2005 National Indigenous languages survey report about languages at risk of disappearing. (12) Currently five community based language centres are involved, centred in and around Cairns Cairns, city (1991 pop. 64,463), Queensland, NE Australia, on Trinity Bay. It is a principal sugar port of Australia; lumber and other agricultural products are also exported. The city's proximity to the Great Barrier Reef has made it a tourist center. , Hervey Bay Hervey Bay
Inlet and city (pop., 2006: 52,220), southeastern Queensland, Australia. Named in 1770 by Capt. James Cook and surveyed in 1804, the bay measures 55 by 40 mi (89 by 64 km). , Mitchell, Cardwell, and Beenleigh.
Among the great gains the project has led to are
* digitisation Noun 1. digitisation - conversion of analog information into digital information
conversion - a change in the units or form of an expression: "conversion from Fahrenheit to Centigrade" of many valuable resources that were in danger of being lost forever
* some communities now feel that it is safe to use the State Library as a depository The place where a deposit is placed and kept, e.g., a bank, savings and loan institution, credit union, or trust company. A place where something is deposited or stored as for safekeeping or convenience, e.g., a safety deposit box. for valuable resources
* distribution of language books and cds within the communities
* videos, interviews with language speakers and workers, and virtual bilingual bi·lin·gual
a. Using or able to use two languages, especially with equal or nearly equal fluency.
b. picture books now able to be accessed by all Queenslanders from both the intranet located at the State Library's Indigenous knowledge centre, kuril dhagun, and the State Library's website.
The Butchulla and Gudjal language virtual bilingual picture books are just two examples within this project of how important the work is. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the ABS (Automatic Backup System) See backup program. census statistics, there are only seven people in Queensland who can speak Butchulla. The Gudjal language is not even listed, and is considered near extinction extinction, in biology, disappearance of species of living organisms. Extinction occurs as a result of changed conditions to which the species is not suited. . (13) There are now five Butchella teaching books in the language as virtual bilingual picture books, and three Gudjal virtual bilingual picture books. (14)
The Queensland stories program
The second initiative is the State Library's statewide Queensland stories program. These are digital stories, or 3-4 minute minimovies, that document memories. They are providing a growing record of Queensland's contemporary history, and are available via the world wide web at the State Library's website. (15) They are created using State Library grants and other funding sources; digital story training workshops; State Library targeted community and collection projects; partnership projects; and stories which are submitted by the general public.
Queensland stories has been in operation for almost three years and during that time over 200 digital stories have been created. In October 2006 the program was awarded the 2006/2007 national Vala new technology award. (16)
The program promotes the State Library, public libraries and Indigenous knowledge centres (IKCs) as places of creativity and learning, and provides opportunities for community engagement projects as well as the creation of collection content.
The role online services such as digital stories can play in promoting linguistic diversity and intangible cultural heritage has been recognised for some time. In 2002 the Istanbul Declaration was endorsed at the third round table of ministers of culture in Turkey. The declaration notes that
The process of globalisation, while presenting serious threats of uniformisation on intangible cultural heritage, may facilitate its dissemination, mainly through new information and communication technologies, thereby creating a digital heritage also worthy of safeguarding. Globalisation can therefore facilitate the emergence of a set of references common to all humankind and thus promote values of solidarity and tolerance resulting in a better understanding of others and respect for diversity. (17)
Many of the stories on this website act as a bridge in understanding and accepting cultural differences, and encouraging tolerance. Currently there are stories representing individuals from Queensland Indigenous communities, African, Albanian, Cook Islander, Ethiopian, Filipino, Hmong, Macedonian, Pacific Islander Pacific Islander
1. A native or inhabitant of any of the Polynesian, Micronesian, or Melanesian islands of Oceania.
2. A person of Polynesian, Micronesian, or Melanesian descent. See Usage Note at Asian. and Vietnamese communities.
The Queensland stories program takes a community engagement approach
* facilitating the sharing and preserving of stories
* the gaining of new digital media skills
* providing opportunities for visitors to the website to give feedback on the digital stories.
It offers important opportunities for the stories to become a part of larger projects, such as exhibitions, and as a means of promoting to Queensland's ethnic communities the longterm benefits of multicultural collecting as a means of sustaining language diversity, and cultural heritage.
The power of the stories: examples
The Living treasures: stories from the Queensland Vietnamese community project features five digital stories that were created in response to the 2005 milestone celebration--the 30th anniversary of refugee settlement for this community.
During the project State Library staff worked with a voluntary working group comprising representatives from the Vietnamese community. A statewide expression of interest invited people to participate in the project. The final five stories were chosen by a selection process overseen by the working group.
Themes explored in the stories include the journey to, and settlement in, Queensland; cultural heritage and identity; and regional perspectives. Transcriptions of the stories are provided on the website in Vietnamese and English.
When the stories appeared on the website, they received good online feedback from a variety of individuals and organisations, including viewers from Vietnam who were able to read the transcripts in Vietnamese. During the duration of this project over 40 images of the Queensland Vietnamese community were added to the Picture Queensland website, and a number of donations made to the collections.
The five digital stories went on to feature in the State Library's Water, trees, and roots: stories from the Queensland Vietnamese community exhibition in The Studio gallery in May-July 2007.
The title of the exhibition comes from an old Vietnamese proverb proverb, short statement of wisdom or advice that has passed into general use. More homely than aphorisms, proverbs generally refer to common experience and are often expressed in metaphor, alliteration, or rhyme, e.g.
Water has sources. Trees have trunks. Human beings have ancestors (roots) ...
The exhibition was presented in a number of formats to appeal to an audience with multiple literacies, including printed didactic di·dac·tic
Of or relating to medical teaching by lectures or textbooks as distinguished from clinical demonstration with patients. panels in Vietnamese and English, digital stories on a television, oral recordings, an SBS See Small Business Server. television documentary, photographs, and drawings.
Throughout the duration of the exhibition, a number of tours were conducted, and these attracted many schools and colleges offering English as a second language programs. Many elements of the exhibition raised thought-provoking dialogues and sharing of stories amongst tour participants, reflecting common issues faced by many of Queensland's new migrants and refugees.
Digital stories can also be used as an effective visual and verbal tool in promoting the longterm benefits of collecting. A number of new digital stories entitled en·ti·tle
tr.v. en·ti·tled, en·ti·tling, en·ti·tles
1. To give a name or title to.
2. To furnish with a right or claim to something: Stories from the collection bring to life unique material from the State Library's collections. Digital story makers engage with State Library staff, researchers and donors to produce high quality digital stories. By offering personal memories or providing an historical context, the storytellers provide unique insight into the material.
The potential to direct stories to Queensland's culturally and linguistically diverse communities is powerful. It is an opportunity to promote the benefits of a library's role in collecting as a means of sustaining cultural, and language, diversity.
One of the stories features the Queensland artist, Jonathan Tse. It is a story that promotes collecting as a means of providing an historical context to political and social debates on migration.
Jonathan and his family migrated to Australia in 1975 from Hong Kong Hong Kong (hŏng kŏng), Mandarin Xianggang, special administrative region of China, formerly a British crown colony (2005 est. pop. 6,899,000), land area 422 sq mi (1,092 sq km), adjacent to Guangdong prov. . References to this period, in the form of text from the artist's school books and family photos, are reproduced in Portrait of an Australian, an artist's book held in the John Oxley This article is about the person. For the Australian pilot ship, see John Oxley (ship).
John Joseph William Molesworth Oxley (1783/1785? – 1828) was an explorer and surveyor of Australia in the early period of English colonisation. Library collection pf the State Library. This book is in the form of an Australian passport Australian passports are issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, both in Australia and overseas. Australian passports are issued only to citizens of Australia. with a reworked, personalised Adj. 1. personalised - made for or directed or adjusted to a particular individual; "personalized luggage"; "personalized advice"
individualised, individualized, personalized coat of arms coat of arms: see blazonry and heraldry.
coat of arms
or shield of arms
Heraldic device dating to the 12th century in Europe. It was originally a cloth tunic worn over or in place of armour to establish identity in battle. on the front cover.
Portrait of an Australian was printed at the time of Pauline Hanson's right wing One Nation Party's political ascendency as·cen·dan·cy also as·cen·den·cy
Superiority or decisive advantage; domination: "Germany only awaits trade revival to gain an immense mercantile ascendancy" Winston S. Churchill. in Queensland. Although it was not printed as a direct response to these events, it explores what it means to be an Australian, and explores the immigration policy An immigration policy is any policy of a state that affects the transit of persons across its borders, but especially those that intend to work and to remain in the country. of that time, which sparked controversial debate in the public arena. This intimate document of one family's story has great historical significance in that it comments on the politics of the day. (18)
Many libraries throughout Queensland offer public programs promoting lifelong learning Lifelong learning is the concept that "It's never too soon or too late for learning", a philosophy that has taken root in a whole host of different organisations. Lifelong learning is attitudinal; that one can and should be open to new ideas, decisions, skills or behaviors. and inclusive of the needs and interests of diverse communities. Many allow the opportunity to explore the treasures to be found within cultural and linguistic diversity. They can range from the simple but effective outreach Outreach is an effort by an organization or group to connect its ideas or practices to the efforts of other organizations, groups, specific audiences or the general public. programs, to elaborate programs with longterm benefits to communities.
There is a wealth of resources and services available to them to engage with culturally and linguistically diverse communities to ensure that Queensland's memory is indeed today for tomorrow ...
(1) Unesco Director-General Koichiro Matsuura Koichiro Matsuura (松浦晃一郎 , International Mother Language Day message 2002 www.unesco.org/education/imld_2002/ dg_message.shtml
(2) National Indigenous languages survey report Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) is an independent Australian Government statutory authority. It is Australia's premier institution for information about the cultures and lifestyles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Canberra 2005
(3) 2006 ABS census Indigenous speaker numbers table
(4) Unesco Convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage 2003 www.unesco.org/culture/ich/index.php?pg=000 02
(5) International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Multicultural communities: guidelines for library services 3rd ed revised 2007 p1
(6) ibid pp5-6
(7) State Library of Queensland Multicultural services strategy 2005-08: embracing diversity, www.slq.qld.gov.au/_data/assets/pdf_file/0010 /57727/multicultural_brochure_final_web.pdf
(8) State Library of Queensland Strategic plan 2007-11 www.slq.qld.gov.au/_data/assets/ pdf_file/0020/70445/SLQ_Strategic_Plan_2007 -11.pdf
(9) State Library of Queensland Multicultural bridge www.slq.qld.gov.au/bridge
(10) Mylanguage www.mylanguage.gov.au/
(11) State Library of Queensland Picture Queensland http://pictureqld.slq.qld.gov.au/ home
(12) National Indigenous languages survey report op cit Op Cit Opere Citato (Latin: In the Work Mentioned)
(13) 2006 ABS census Indigenous speaker numbers table
(14) State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders' virtual books www.slq.qld.gov.au/find/virtualbooks
(15) State Library of Queensland Queensland stories www.qldstories.slq.qld.gov.au/
(16) Vala Libraries, technology and the future Inc awards www.vala.org.au/index.htm
(17) Istanbul Declaration Third round table of ministers of culture, Turkey September 2002 http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.phpURL_ID=6209&URL URL
in full Uniform Resource Locator
Address of a resource on the Internet. The resource can be any type of file stored on a server, such as a Web page, a text file, a graphics file, or an application program. _DO=DO_TOPIC&URL _SECTION=201.html
(18) Jonathan Tse www.jonathantse.com.au/
Debra Cooper BA GradDipLibSc is the multicultural program officer for the State Library of Queensland, and has worked in university and public libraries for 27 years. Seventeen of these years have been with public libraries in Queensland and the UK. Whilst working for the State Library, Debra's focus and passion has been for services and issues affecting culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Address: Public Library Services State Library of Queensland PO Box 3488 South Brisbane Qld 4101 email firstname.lastname@example.org