Nyingarn Steering Committee Member Nathan Mudyi Sentance discusses the importance of collection access.

Language manuscripts are dispersed in state and national collections across Australia. Access to these manuscripts especially the earliest records is challenging. The aim of this project is to build a system (Nyingarn – the Noongar word for echidna) to discover, convert, present, ingest (accessioning items into Nyingarn), and search as many of these written sources in Australia’s Indigenous languages as possible. The way an echidna collects ants is an analogy for the collection of documents in this project.
Nyingarn, the online digital platform will allow access to the text and images of these important original documents. There is nothing like this currently available.

The Nyingarn Project began in mid-2021, building on our experience in the digital Daisy Bates work. Nyingarn is a 3-year Australian Research Council funded project that will provide digital access to early sources of Australia’s Indigenous languages, using various ways to turn images of manuscripts into text, including Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and crowdsourcing transcription (using DigiVol). The team have been working to identify source manuscripts in state and national partner institutions, develop metadata systems, and build the online access platform. Our team include chief investigators from the ANU, UQueensland, Latrobe, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide Universities, and the project is guided by an Indigenous Steering Committee.