The March 2022 webinar was held Friday, March 11. Presenters Claire Bowern, Irene Yi, and Sarah Babinski led a discussion entitled "How usable are digital collections for endangered languages? A review."

It is estimated that 32% of living languages are currently in some state of loss (Simons & Lewis 2013:10), and documentation of endangered languages is vital for preserving them (e.g. Berez 2013); some estimates place the figure at closer to 50% (Campbell & Belew 2018). Digital archiving has long been standard for linguistics, but the extent to which this material can be accessed and used for research and education varies. There exists no standardized set of protocols for language archives (Aznar & Seifart 2020), and it is important that researchers and communities who rely on archived materials are able to make the best use possible of those collections (cf. Baldwin & Olds 2007; Whalen, Moss & Baldwin 2016; Hinton 2003, 2018). We report the preliminary results of an investigation into the accessibility, discoverability, and functionality of archives, and on the features of archival collections that make them more or less usable for users. While we recognize that archiving is a complex task, and one that is poorly resourced across linguistics, we also find that digital language archives are not set up in a way that makes them easy to use (at least for common digital tasks). In this talk, we review several facets of archives and their collections. We discuss some of the ways in which archives and depositors can make collections more accessible, discoverable, and usable.

Watch a recording of the webinar on the LSA YouTube channel.