Innovating Heritage – A Singapore Story

ILANGOVAN, Malarvele (2019) Innovating Heritage – A Singapore Story. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2019 - Athens, Greece - Libraries: dialogue for change in Session 179 - Audiovisual and Multimedia.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Innovating Heritage – A Singapore Story

The aim of this paper is to show how engagement of the Tamil community can be meaningful to preserve cultural heritage for an indigenous group. Valuing the community is one of National Library Board’s (NLB) shared values, as it proactively engages the community and partners with various stakeholders to harness their expertise and networks so as to promote a civic and knowledgeable Singapore. What had been previously unexposed, unpublished and made unavailable is now not only searchable but retrievable and usable. What we have tested here will might be useful to any ethnic communities in identifying and retrieving hidden gems in the cultural heritage of a community. Theatre, Music and Dance-related materials are primarily captured in the form of audio-visual materials. These exist in context with complementary or supporting information such as drama scripts, posters and collaterals. Soliciting these materials, collecting, curating and annotating them and making them available through a digital archive goes a long way in preserving and sharing these sound and visual cultural heritage for Singapore’s Tamil community. Transforming materials relating to Digital Archive of Singapore Tamil Theatre, Music and Dance into the digital humanities would have far-reaching effects not least of which is the ability to create new knowledge and sustain the culture of the group. With the successful launch of the Digital Archive, the library’s digital collection unlocks the opportunities for greater knowledge discovery and better preservation of valuable content and cultural heritage. This paper aims to also inspire other libraries to make the continuous effort in building transformational partnerships with community stakeholders. While the library creates the platform, the community proactively contributes and organises collaborative engagements for a wider audience. Librarians can play a vital role in transforming libraries into community anchors. Curators, Selectors and Cataloguers were consulted in the curation process. The need for annotation for each piece of content can become a resource issue without community support. Metadata was created for the digital collection using Dublin Core standard. These were published and the contents made accessible on OneSearch, NLB’s aggregated search platform which is used by the library, archive and museum community in Singapore. This paper will show how concerted efforts are being made in organising various resources for the new generation of Tamils and theatre, music and dance enthusiasts. Additionally, what has been experimented with the Tamil community which is the smallest indigenous group in the demographic of Singapore can be used as a model for other groups. This digital initiative which is inclusive and diverse, would preserve and promote Tamil language and culture in Singapore where multi-lingual and ethnicity is celebrated. This paper can be useful to anyone who would like to replicate the idea of identifying and retrieving to innovate heritage.

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