The Aboriginal Audio Digitization Program is a grant funding opportunity sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at the University of British Columbia1, Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and the First Nations Technology Council. The goal of the Program is to provide financial support to British Columbia Aboriginal communities and organizations for the conversion of audio materials on cassette to uncompressed digital file formats, such as broadcast wave. Another goal is to promote enhanced and appropriate access to these recordings for communities and where possible the broader public.
The Aboriginal Audio Digitization Program developed out of the Indigitization project, which began in 2010 collaboratively between the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, the First Nations Technology Council, and three First Nations communities: Heiltsuk, Ktunaxa, and 'Namgis. Other contributors include UBC's Museum of Anthropology, the School for Library, Archival and Information Studies, and the First Nations House of Learning. This pilot project sought to clarify processes and identify issues in the conservation and digitization of Aboriginal community information resources, such as materials to support language revitalization, oral histories, traditional land use interviews, and other materials as identified by participants as having need of digitization and preservation.
The Indigitization pilot project resulted in the creation of the Indigitization toolkit. This resource was created through the joint experience of the partner communities and is also informed by industry standards and sound practices. It serves as a starting point for Aboriginal communities interested in undertaking digitization and preservation projects and is a stepping stone in preserving valuable Aboriginal information, including endangered language resources for future generations.2
One important outcome of the pilot is the development of a portable audio cassette digitization system designed for implementation in B.C aboriginal communities. This system, developed in partnership with UBC's Museum of Anthropology's Oral History Language Lab, consists of a digitization hardware system, accompanying digitization and project planning manual and practical, in-person training module. These cassette digitization resources were developed as stand-alone portions of the toolkit to address the specific needs of Aboriginal communities to develop capacities for the digitization of vintage audio formats such as audio cassette. These resources serve as an important complement to the Aboriginal Audio Digitization Program.
1The Irving K. Barber Learning Centre serves as an education centre, library and as a conduit of knowledge for British Columbia and beyond. The Learning Centre offers the BC Aboriginal Audio Digitization and Preservation Program as part of its mandate to support education and the sharing of knowledge.
2UBC's Aboriginal Engagement Strategic Plan specifically targets "extending and supporting work to stabilize and recover Indigenous languages" in British Columbia.