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4.4 Digitisation

- Your Language Journey Workbook -

Digitising is extremely important and is certainly a much bigger topic than what will be summarized here. Institutes like Museums and Libraries will spend millions of dollars on digitization projects and equipment.

For us in Australia we may source digitized materials in various formats from the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) and State Libraries which hold some of the largest collection of relevant material to language projects. Whether this be old analogue recordings of speakers or old books where language has been documented, the value of this information could be the catalyst for many languages being reclaimed. Many of these items will be rare and valuable and must be treated with kid gloves, they will also be unique and could possibly be the only copy in existence.

1 Digitisation

Example of high tech digitization at Melbourne University


But digitising does not stop at the major institutes, and as well they can only respectfully do so much.

Today in our own communities we could possibly have a dictionary or word list which was printed or published 10 years ago and is no longer available but is extremely valuable. We may have received some old analogue tapes from AIATSIS or even have created our own when tape recorders were still popular. Our photos and videos as well cannot be forgotten. When you think about this, it was not that long ago.

So in whatever way we look at it having digitised copies of our own physical materials is an important step we must consider to ensure the longevity of the original item.

Some simple examples to assist in understanding what a digitised item could be.

  • That old analogue cassette can be converted to a digital wav file.
  • The old image you have can be photographed or scanned using a digital camera or digital scanner to a JPEG, TIFF or RAW photo image.
  • An old notebook with translations can be photographed or scanned with the images then compiled to produce and Adobe PDF document.

Keep thinking and I am sure that you have items which are a one off and are valuable to you or your community.

2 Digitisation 2

Can you digitise? Of course you can!

How good can you do it or how good do you need to do it are the next questions you need to think about. But please do your research and talk with others to get advice, support and examples.

For us, just 5 years ago quality digitising was certainly out of our reach, but we knew we needed to do it.

Using the language technology case as an example

  • You have a digital compact camera which today can rival the quality of high end digital SLR cameras from just a few years ago. Images rated at 24 megapixel at 6000x4000 pixel resolution can easily be taken.
  • The Zoom recorder can be used as a digital interface to assist in converting the analogue tapes to a digital wave file.
  • And the sturdy multipurpose tripod will assist in taking the best images possible

After this you will either be using software like Audacity for audio converting, editing and saving and maybe Adobe Acrobat for bringing the images together and combining them into a PDF book.

3 Digitisation

The next step for a language program could be looking a bit further at products like the Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600 which we use at our language centre for all of our digitising and scanning of books and documents.

Have a look at this video from Fujitsu for a great explanation and demonstration of what this product can do for you:

The software included with the scanner may also attempt to do a Optical Character Recognition process of the book which could turn every character or word within the book into a text recognisable format which can then easily be either searched or copied within your PDF reader software. The possibilities here are then endless.

4 Digitisation

You can see from this image where Terri-Lee is using the SV600 scanner to digitise a rare old book from 1892 into a PDF document. The scanner is also able to OCR this book and make each word text recognisable and searchable.

Further Digitisation References

Australia State Library of NSW http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/public-library-services/content/digital-practice-guidelines-publiclibraries

State Library of Victoria http://www.libraries.vic.gov.au/downloads/Victorias_Virtual_Library_Digital_Collection/lochist.htm

Pacific Region http://www.paradisec.org.au/home.html

International http://ourdigitalworld.org/services/resources/