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Diversity in

Collection Development:

Oral Tradition in

Digital Environment

Ganga B. Dakshinamurti, M.A., M.L.S, Ph.D.

Albert D. Cohen Management Library

Asper School of Business, the University of Manitoba

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


2009 Joint Mini
-
Conference of

REFORMA,AILA,APALA,BCALA, & CALA

May 15, 2009



Multiculturalism in Diversity


Equal worth of tradition between and
among cultures


Sources of authority/opinion broadened


among more people


among more ways of knowing

2

Sources of Tradition for
Collection Development


Written/published records


Oral tradition

3

Oral Tradition


handed over from generation to generation
orally


precedes written tradition


Example: ‘Guru Parampara’ in India


traditional oral teaching by teacher to
student


Classical music and dance taught this way

4

Text
vs.
Memory


Western tradition lost in Middle Ages the
sharing of authority between text & memory


Text is privileged now


as preferable opinion


as preferable ‘truth’


Text is power, and control of text is powerful

5

Historical Examples


Black slaves in USA being forbidden
reading and writing


but actualizing & internalizing their struggle
into story and song


thereby going back
to oral tradition


Women in all cultures forbidden to
enunciate certain religious texts



6

Overarching Weight of Textual
Authority in Codification & Notation



Well
-
meaning effort, but negative
results?


Panini’s codification of Sanskrit
grammar the beginning of the end for
Sanskrit.


Loss of improvisation in Javanese
shadow puppet theatre after systematic
codification during Dutch colonial era.

7

Vanishing Oral Tradition in
Diverse Cultures


Australian Aborigines’ stories of Dreamtime
connecting us with our past


Medieval French ballads


Icelandic ‘story telling’ sagas


‘Katha Kalakshebham’ of India
-

musical
story
-
telling and discourse


now reviving due to technology!

8

Humanity’s Collective Memory
& Interpretive History


Danger of fading significance


Many in danger of vanishing outright


UNLESS we revive it by using technology
and reach out to sources of oral tradition


people of diverse cultures!

9

21
st

Century Libraries



Libraries are no longer just places.


Library collections are no longer just repositories.


Libraries are place
-
sharing, participating, accessing,
interacting continuum of communication from the
past through the present to the future.


Technologically driven, with far reaching capacity
to reach out to people, and reproduce in significant
records, in multiple sustaining formats

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What can we do?


Reunite and restore the collaboration
between the two ways of knowing


written and oral traditions.


Pay attention, and eventually respect, to
oral tradition, providing as much possibility
of it being significant as written text.

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Case Study:


Oral history of Indo
-
Canadian community in
Winnipeg, Canada


Proposal of recording and archiving life
experiences of immigrants in Winnipeg from
India


Precedence set through Ukrainian and Slavic
populations

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From India in Winnipeg:





1960


2009



Academics


<10


~ 100


Doctors


~ 30


~ 200


Students


~ 50


~ 250


Total Population

~300


~20,000+

Total Winnipeg Population now: 650,000

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Methodology of the case study


Compiling a list of population


Interviewing


Selecting


Archiving


Digitizing


Contribution from others by using social
software such as wikis, blogs, and online
content management system such as Drupal.


Timeline: Pilot study: Summer 2009

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Conclusion:


Goal is to have a continuum of
communication from the past through
the present to the future.


To celebrate the oral tradition is to
celebrate people!

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Any questions, comments, suggestions?


Thank you!


Contact:

Ganga_Dakshinamurti@umanitoba.ca

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