Languages

The Australian Indigenous Languages Collection was established early in 1981 to bring together printed material written in Australian Indigenous languages. It now contains over 4300 titles and has been independently found to be of such world significance that it has been placed on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register.

The collection contains published items only, and includes 4360 books, pamphlets and collection items such as children’s’ readers, bible translations, dictionaries, grammars, vocabularies, works of imagination and learning kits in 200 languages.

Most of the estimated 250 Australian languages and 600-700 dialects are represented in our unrivalled language holdings, and 40 ‘endangered languages’ recorded by Luise Hercus between 1963 and 1999 have been inscribed on the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia.

We aim to build a comprehensive collection of works written in all Australian Indigenous languages and welcome donations of materials and information about new publications.

language books on table

The Languages Collection can be discovered in a number of ways; AUSTLANG is an online database about Indigenous Australian languages with over 1200 records of language varieties. Records are linked to MURA (The AIATSIS catalogue) for items about or written in each language, and the ABI (Aboriginal Bibliographic Index) for links to people from the language group.

Other information sets include speaker numbers, documentation scores, referenced comments about the language variety and descriptions of location. AUSTLANG has a map, which indicates the midpoint of these descriptions for most records. AUSTLANG also includes links to other webpages, with information or resources about the language, and there is a feedback section on each record.

OZBIB is a curated bibliography of works about and in Indigenous Australian languages, many of which are in the Collection. OZBIB is a unique bibliography about this subject, in that it includes works by overseas authors.

Last reviewed: 29 Aug 2018