In October 2014 a team from NT Language Centre support visited Maningrida for two weeks. The main job while we were there was to make a start on digitising audio cassette tapes and video tapes from the large collection at Maningrida College. Maningrida College has a valuable collection of audio cassette tapes, CDs, VHS tapes, Mini DV tapes, HDV tapes, photographs and documents. While they are being stored and cared for well, they are not catalogued, and not very accessible to the community. They are a magnificent record of the school’s history, ceremonies in the community, bush trips and of course people who have participated in school and community life over many years. They contain much traditional knowledge, and are an important memorial of many people who are now gone. The material also contains much documentation of the development and implementation of Bilingual Education at Maningrida College, which ran from the early 1990s until 2008.
There are other organisations in Maningrida which also have collections of materials that deserve digitising for cataloguing, preservation and access. We aimed for this workshop to be an early step towards supporting the community in general to digitise such valuable materials.
Koulla Giannikouris and Jan Jones from NT Libraries travelled to Maningrida during our visit to begin digitising photographs from the Maningrida College collection, to run Community Stories workshops and to launch the Maningrida instance of Community Stories. Community Stories is a digital keeping place, where much of the digitised material can be stored and viewed by people in Maningrida.
Two workshops were conducted during the NT Libraries visit. The first was attended by school language workers, senior community members, MAC staff and Maningrida College staff. The second was run for middle school students at Maningrida College, but was also well-attended by community representatives, including the Djelk rangers. These workshops introduced the Community Stories database and interface. The presenters talked about the benefits of having a Community Stories instance for Maningrida, and participants were shown how to select materials for uploading, and how to add and annotate them online.
We also talked about new developments for Community Stories were also discussed, such as a mapping function. Attendance and participation at the workshops showed that there is strong community support for Community Stories in Maningrida, and that a sense of community ownership of the database is already developing.
As a result of these workshops, new materials have been uploaded to the Community Stories database, including some items from the Maningrida collection digitised during this trip. The annotations on pictures and films that are already in Community Stories has also been enriched thanks to the efforts of several community members who spent time adding information during the workshop.
As part of the launch of the Maningrida instance, we created a new splash page for the website using the Lurra Festival logo, photographs of local scenery and displaying a welcome message and cultural warning. The text was written by a team of local people: “These are our stories past and present. We respect our families and relatives that have passed away”. The cultural warning is accompanied by an audio message recorded in six of the community languages (Ndjébbana, Burarra/Gun-nartpa, Djinang, Djambarrpuyngu, Kune and Na-kara. These messages reinforce the written message and talk about the contents and importance of the Community Stories database.