Access to culturally-sensitive materials PDF Print E-mail

As many consultants are well aware, there are sensitivities around making some linguistic and cultural materials widely available. Well-established language centres have mechanisms to make sure that only appropriate people have access to certain materials. For example a regional language centre may have a database or catalogue of all of the language materials it holds and each piece of material in the collection, on the advice of language informants, will be labelled with details such as who may see it.

At the same time, however, experienced consultants, with long term connections with a community, often notice changes in community attitudes over the years. Materials that were once strongly considered by communities to be highly restricted may later be considered to be less restricted or unrestricted; and vice versa.6

This underlines the need for ongoing consultation with communities over a long period of time. Communities who have lodged materials with archives, such as AIATSIS, should revisit the access conditions placed on their materials as often as necessary. The community should develop a close relationship with the archive which holds their materials and keep that archive informed of any changes in contact details, especially in cases where a specific person may be the nominated contact or a corporate body which may be disbanded. It is also beneficial to both community and archive if the archive is notified of any deceased persons. This enables the archive to curate the materials appropriately in line with local protocols.

6 For example see Koch and Anderson (2003).