News from the Open Language Archives Community (OLAC)

Steven Bird olac-admin at
Tue Oct 19 02:41:05 UTC 2004

Dear Community,

Here is a summary of the developments in the Open Language
Archives Community since our last general news posting in March.
Full details are available at:


OLAC will be organizing a booth in the publisher's exhibit hall at the
LSA meeting in San Francisco in January.  OLAC search services will be
demonstrated, and OLAC archives are invited to send someone to help
staff the booth, to give live demonstrations of their web interfaces
and to hand out flyers for their projects.  The booth and web access
are expensive and we welcome any offers of sponsorship.  If you would
like to be involved, please contact Heidi Johnson
<hjohnson at>.

LSA Conference website:


The Linguistic Data Consortium at the University of Pennsylvania now
hosts a powerful OLAC search interface.  Features include result
summaries by archive, result ranking, approximate language name
matching, and country-based searches.  The service was developed by
Amol Kamat, Baden Hughes, and Steven Bird at the University of
Melbourne, with sponsorship from the Department of Computer Science
and Software Engineering and the Linguistic Data Consortium.

OLAC Search Interface:


The archive report cards, added to the OLAC site in March, give
summary statistics for each repository and an assessment of the
quality of the repository's metadata.  The assessment is based on OLAC
and Dublin Core guidelines.  An updated version of the system is now
available, including a revised evaluation algorithm to account for
changes in DC recommendations, and revised labelling of the reports
for consistency with OLAC terminology.  The evaluation metric rewards
the use of OLAC extensions (controlled vocabularies), and what we
consider to be the most important DC elements: title, date, subject,
description, and identifier.  The report cards can be accessed by
clicking the "REPORT CARD" links on the OLAC Archives page.

The service was developed by Amol Kamat, Baden Hughes, and Steven Bird
at the University of Melbourne, with sponsorship from the Department
of Computer Science and Software Engineering, and the Linguistic Data

OLAC Archives Page (see "REPORT CARD" links):
Report for full set of repositories:
Documentation on report cards:


The journal addresses interested linguistics, ethnologists, and other
researchers working with linguistic and cultural data. The journal
especially offers contributions to the following disciplines:
linguistic data processing and archiving, speech data recordings,
computer tools for linguistic data as well as papers on relevant
developments in the area of language archiving. The journal is
associated with the Language Corpus of the Max Planck Institute for
Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen in the Netherlands, especially the
DOBES-Archive (Documentation of endangered languages), but also
accepts papers with a more general scope.

Language Archives Newsletter
MPI Language Corpus


Steven Bird and Gary Simons (2004), Building an Open Language Archives
    Community on the DC Foundation, in Hillmann and Westbrooks
    Metadata in Practice: A Work in Progress, ALA Editions.

Abstract: The Open Language Archives Community is an international
    partnership of institutions and individuals that is creating a
    worldwide virtual library of language resources.  We report on the
    development of OLAC metadata as a specialization of Dublin Core
    metadata and then describe the interoperability framework in which
    the metadata is validated, disseminated and aggregated.  We also
    discuss the community-centered process by which OLAC standards and
    practices are created and maintained.  In each of these three
    areas, metadata, interoperability, and process, we show how OLAC
    began with a model that was too cumbersome to implement then found
    a new formulation which worked in practice.  By reporting on this
    experience of metadata in practice, we hope to show how a
    specialist community can address its resource discovery needs by
    building on the Dublin Core foundation.

Best wishes,
Steven & Gary
Steven Bird, University of Melbourne (sb at
Gary Simons, SIL International (gary_simons at
OLAC Coordinators (

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