Digital Collections

Lesk, Michael. 2005, Understanding Digital Libraries. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann.

Chapter twelve is discussing some important cultural issues when it comes to digitizing objects.  I found what museums are facing to be complex.   Chapter twelve (12.3 Multicultural Issues, p 328) discusses religious or cultural objects museums must return to specific Native American Indian tribes per United States regulations.   Lesk discusses the fact that museums may not be able to keep a digital copy of the original depending on the cultural significance of the item.


As I was perusing my previous points, I realized it has been a while since I reflected on thte digital collections class and paper.  Intially, I thought I would not find much information with regard to American Indian tribes digitizing their archives.   After perusing sites and talking to various individuals, there are many worthwhile endeavors from tribes in digitizing.   To find consistent application and follow through on one project is not usual because funding such initiatives are usual self-sustained.   By this, I mean the tribe would have to commit to funding ongoing maintenance of pilot projects.  Due to politics and changing priorities of top level administration, digital preservation of collections might get “lost in the fire”.  However, the exploration has been educational for me.

From my research, tribes are unlike libraries in they have an entire economic and social system impacting funding for digital collection initiatives.   From the various programs and resources based on federal resources which limits use to intratribal political priorities, digital collections may fall by the wayside.   The importance of economics for the tribe’s survival and increasing health costs over ride the importance of digitally preserving cultures.  The importance of funding a digital collection weighs heavily on the promotion of the individual spearheading such efforts and the support they receive from the tribal community, especially tradtional elders.

Just some thoughts for the day. (accessed November 3, 2008).

This is a good effort by high school students in documenting Native American Indian language loss.   The title is “When it’s gone, it’s gone”.  Although there have been efforts to revive and teach the language in various formats over the last ten to fifteen years, there is still enormous work required to save these languages.   Is a digital collection of these efforts viable?   Most certainly.

One of my classmates is compiling a digital collection of her life utilizing various pictures.   As I continue to research obstacles for indigenous cultures in digitizing their archives, I came upon a change in the Absentee Shawnee Tribe with regard to pictures of ones life.   (I am a full blooded member of this tribe.)  

I do not have any pictures of myself until I began grade school.  My parents were older and lived the traditions and practices handed down to them orally from generation to generation.  One of the firm beliefs was not to allow pictures to be taken of themselves and, especially, not their children.   Their belief was that pictures captured ones spirit and sucked the life out of the actual person.  I have noticed this belief has changed as the generation following me adopted the practice of taking baby pictures each  month of a child’s life.

This is one of the many obstacles in developing an archive with American Indian Tribes.  There are many beliefs still practiced and who determines which one’s are applicable in developing policy and procedure for preservation?   Who makes the decision as to which ones will be utilized for tribal member access versus public access?

Witt, Michael C. 2008. How to channel the data deluge in academic research. The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 4, (accessed October 25, 2008).

I had heard about such projects but until taking the Digital Collections class, I did not pay attention to data collection as much.   This article highlights the Human Speechome Project in which an MIT professor set up all types of recording materials in his house to record the first two and half years of his child’s life!  Can you image the enormous amount of data?   This is the gist of this article.  The use and challenges of data along with preservation. (accessed October 21, 2008).  This is an interesting site compiling native indigenous resources around the world!  Fundamentals of effort in digitzing indigenous resources are flourishing but still have a long way to go, specificaly when the digital collection is not meant for the public.  (accessed October 21, 2008).  Here is another effort for Australian indigenous digital archiving.


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  • Little Axe: Your welcome.
  • Little Axe: Well, hope it has useful information in one place.
  • Little Axe: I forgot where I got that information. I know it compiles a lot of references and relevant topics for my paper. Glad you found it interesting! :D