Creating the Blackfoot digital library: the challenge of cultural sensitivity.
In the mid 1990’s it was estimated that there are only about 5,000 – 8,000 speakers of the Blackfoot language and that the numbers were declining. The decline of the language was exacerbated by the absence of a generally accepted writing system. The orthography most commonly used for writing Blackfoot on the three Southern Alberta reserves was only approved as the official writing system in 1975. This resulted in very little written material being produced by the Blackfoot people that captured their history In 2006 the University of Lethbridge and Red Crow Community College joined forces in to ensure that as much as possible of the Blackfoot cultural record will be preserved and made accessible through the creation of a Blackfoot Digital Library. A foundational requirement of the digital library was cultural sensitivity and specifically that it must appropriately honor the Blackfoot worldview. In the traditional Blackfoot worldview the underlying premise is that all knowledge is derived from place, which posed a significant challenge. The solution was the design of a custom-made search interface that displays the search results on a digital map where the user is immediately confronted with the land. The map, displays the place(s) where the assets that were retrieved by the search, originated from and offer access to the various assets themselves. The presentation informs on the challenges faced by the initiative.
Digital Library, Blackfoot, Digitization
WORLD LIBRARY AND INFORMATION CONGRESS: 75T H IFLA GENERAL CONFERENCE AND COUNCIL