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State Library creates a new space for Aboriginal communities to connect with their cultural heritage

Thursday 20 February 2020

In an Australian first, the State Library of NSW launched today a new digital space for Aboriginal communities to connect with their histories and cultures which are held in the collections at the Library.

The innovative website is called Gather and uses an open-source platform called Mukurtu, developed by Washington State University in consultation with First Nations communities in Australia, the United States, Canada and other countries.

According to State Librarian John Vallance: “The State Library is very pleased to be the first Australian institution to join this exciting project aimed at supporting Aboriginal communities to explore and share their cultural heritage.”

The State Library holds some of the most significant extant material relating to Aboriginal history, language, art and culture, such as language lists and vocabularies, historic photographs, missionaries’ and explorers’ diaries, as well as contemporary Aboriginal works and stories.

“For the most part, the Library’s collection represents Australia’s First People as told by the third parties - colonists, missionaries, travellers, policemen and others - who documented the lives and cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” says Damien Webb, the State Library’s Manager of Indigenous Engagement.

“This historical information is incredibly important to Aboriginal people because it may be the only known surviving records of their community and family from the time. Gather is place where, for the first time, communities are empowered to add their stories and perspective to the record.”

One of the ways community members are being encouraged to engage with the Library’s collections is by helping to identifying people, places and stories in the photographs and other materials that can be found on Gather.

Gather is available online at: www.gather.sl.nsw.gov.au

Download full media release (PDF 448KB)