PAPER SESSION 3 - WEDNESDAY 25/8, 9–11am (UTC +8)
P3.3 – Institutional Perspectives
Kevin Khoo (Singapore)</b> ‘Are Oral History Professionals Needed?’: Operating an Oral History Centre in Singapore 2021
This presentation explores some of the contemporary challenges of running an oral history centre staffed by professionals in Singapore. What is the place of an OHC in a modern global city like Singapore that is exposed to rapid technological advancements in digitisation and AI driven automation? How does the presence of a highly educated and articulate population in Singapore, and sophisticated media industry impact or change the role of the OHC?
Can volunteers be used in place of professional oral historians? Can in-depth media interviews and podcasts substitute for oral history? Why does a country need oral history professionals, what differentiated value do they bring?
Kevin Khoo is currently Senior Manager (Documentation) at Singapore’s Oral History Centre. He has been an archivist and historical researcher for about 15 years. He was involved in developing heritage exhibitions and publications at the National Archives of Singapore and has also served in corporate planning. He has been an oral interviewer for several years.
Keywords: future of work; evolving role of oral history professional
Ellen Forsyth (Australia) Counting on Oral History
The proposal is about two projects related to oral history in public libraries in New South Wales, Australia which I am coordinating. The first project is about portable local studies, and is inspired by the Archivist in a backpack program from Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina. In 2019 we provided 11 oral history collection kits to public libraries. These kits contain items to assist public library staff record oral history interviews. Training has also been provided. Priority collecting areas are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and multicultural communities. This presentation includes preliminary information about how this project is helping people collect oral history in NSW as well as some information about the impact on the pandemic of this project. 34.5% of the people in New South Wales were born overseas, and 54.6% of the people in that state have one or both parents who were born overseas. 2.9% of the New South Wales people are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.
The second project is an audit of NSW public library local studies or community history collections including oral history recordings. This presentation provides some early results of this audit with a particular focus on the oral history collections in NSW public libraries. This audit will provide information which will assist with planning of future development work for public libraries.
Both of these projects have a focus in contemporary collecting, so that recent information is included in local studies collections in public libraries. This contemporary collecting will help bring together many voices whose stories may otherwise have not been collected, and will help record the diversity in communities, deepening community understanding of different voices and perspectives.
Ellen Forsyth is a Consultant, Public Library Services at the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Ellen provides advice to public libraries. Ellen is interested in how public libraries manage collecting current materials for local studies and has experience with collaborative projects.
Keywords: collaboration; public libraries; training
Anni Turnbull (Australia) The Power of the Authentic Voice: Oral Histories in the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museum (GLAM) Sector
This paper will showcase the changing attitudes to oral histories and their use in exhibitions, web stories and podcasts in Sydney’s GLAM sector.
It will have examples from collections and interpretations using historic and contemporary oral histories across areas such as sport, migration, history and innovation. It will also look at the shifting attitudes to collecting oral histories and their place in GLAM collections.
Anni Turnbull is a social history curator and oral historian at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. She has curated exhibitions on history, photography and social change at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences and at the NSW State Library. Her work has been concerned with recording people’s stories and making them accessible through oral and video histories, exhibitions, web stories and podcasts.
Keywords: collections; exhibitions; interpretation; podcasts; social history; web stories