The Mitchell Library Reading Room will be closed to the public on Monday 29 April. To access collections and services on this day, please visit the Governor Marie Bashir Reading Room.
The Indigenous Engagement team works to make available the Library’s Aboriginal Historical and Indigenous Languages collections to communities on Country and online. This documentation is a precious asset for communities who want to trace their family history, consult language lists and vocabularies, look at old photos in the catalogue, read missionaries’ and explorers’ diaries and browse contemporary Aboriginal works acquired through the Library’s new Indigenous Collecting Strategy.
These collections were, for the most part, collected from third parties – colonisers, missionaries, travellers, policemen and others – who often documented the lives and cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples without any community input or response. In using a dedicated site for these records, there is an important opportunity to respectfully reconnect and make them more accessible and usable to the Aboriginal peoples they belong to.
To facilitate this process, the Library has recently adopted Mukurtu, an open-source plaftorm to manage and share digital cultural heritage.
With Mukurtu – meaning ‘dilly bag’ or ‘a safe keeping place for sacred materials’ in Warumungu language – communities can look at digital collections and apply their own cultural community protocols, respond to the information contained in the Library’s catalogue and use a big set of additional features, such as alternative labelling, licensing options and a dictionary. These features have been developed from direct feedback from Indigenous communities in Australia, the United States, Canada, Alaska and others.
Why we are seeking submissions from Aboriginal artists
The Library recognises the unique position of Aboriginal peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of the land now recognised as New South Wales, and is proud to play a role in supporting their rights with regard to documenting, safekeeping and interpreting their history, knowledge and culture.
In seeking responses to this call for expressions of interest from Aboriginal artists, the Library acknowledges that Aboriginal peoples are the guardians and interpreters of their heritage, languages and cultures, and seeks to ensure the Mukurtu site design holds value and relevance for its users.
In our guidelines, you can find Mukurtu sites built by Indigenous communities, including the Plateau People’s Web Portal and the Voices of Amiskwaciy. You can also learn more about Mukurtu on their official site.