How materials are preserved at ELAR

This week on the ELAR Blog, we’ll explain how materials are preserved at ELAR, and what you see when you look at collections in the catalogue.

The Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR) is a digital repository for preserving multimedia collections of endangered languages from all over the world, making them available for future generations.

ELAR’s mission is to:

  • provide a safe long-term repository for language documentation collections
  • train and support depositors in collection creation and preservation
  • make collections accessible free of charge to researchers, communities, and the public
  • support users in discovering and accessing recordings

In ELAR’s collections you can find recordings of every-day conversations, instructions on how to build fish traps or boats, explanations of kinship systems and the use of medicinal plants, and learn about art forms like string figures and sand drawings. ELAR’s collections are unique records of local knowledge systems encoded in their languages, described by the holders of the knowledge themselves.

Data Preservation

ELAR is powered by Preservica – a state of the art digital preservation service specialised in active digital preservation. Preservica allows us to ensure digital content archived with ELAR can be read and used over decades by actively migrating files to newer formats, while securely retaining original files and formats.

Deep Storage and Presentation Formats

In order for materials to be safely stored, data ingested into ELAR goes into Deep Storage. This type of storage is very reliable but also means materials are less easily accessible. Because of this, so-called Presentation Formats are generated. These are smaller versions of the original files (the originals are preserved in deep storage). The major advantage of these formats is that they can be loaded quickly, meaning that even users with slow internet connections or limited bandwidth can stream audios and videos from ELAR collections. Although the presentation versions are smaller than the original files, and thus more easily streamable, the quality is still very good.

These smaller streamable versions of the materials are automatically created once data is loaded to ELAR. That means that if you as a depositor ingest materials, it may look like there are discrepancies in file sizes. This is nothing to worry about. It simply means, that the presentation versions of your files have been created, and that your original files are already safely stored in deep storage.

The access to your original files is not lost. If for some reason you need to access your original files, the ELAR team can extract them for you from deep storage, however that may take some time.

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