What’s new

August 2016 update

Another 75 items have been added to the Virtual Library, bringing the total number of items to over 500, representing over 150 languages ... read more

How to use this Virtual Library

To find a resource, use search, or choose a state, language or category on the left (see Help for more information).

Or: find items by year of first listing in this Virtual Library:


There are more than 250 Australian Indigenous languages. Less than 20 of these languages are strong, and even those are endangered: the others have been destroyed, live in the memories of the elderly, or are being revived by their communities.

This Virtual Library web catalogue was founded in January 1996. It currently has annotated links to 515 resources for over 150 languages. About 37% of these resources are produced, published by, or directly represent the voices of Indigenous people.

Internet Library Publishing for Aboriginal Languages

Practice statement

The Aboriginal Languages of Australia Virtual Library aims to implement best practice in its category. Comments on this page or on any aspect of this Virtual Library are welcome: please use the site feedback form.

Indigenous protocol
The editor has active links and communication channels with Indigenous organisations and individuals
The editor applies Indigenous protocols to the full extent that he is capable
The Library declares the proportion of sites that are produced or published by Indigenous people or organisations (these details not listed site-by-site)
Stability and reliability
This site is located at a server/address provided by the editor, who has a commitment to publishing on the Internet about Aboriginal languages and to the sustainability of this Virtual Library. This avoids the common problem of the unreliability of sites at Universities and other institutions where resources change address (or even disappear) due to actions by administrators, technical persons etc.
Information quality
The editor has been an active participant in Aboriginal languages education and associated areas for more than 25 years
The editor evaluates every resource. Most resources have been identified through searches of the web, or from news and announcements, or through suggestions from readers. Only sites that contribute positively to knowledge about and promotion of Aboriginal languages are listed. The editor annotates each resource to help the reader choose a link and anticipate its content.
Warnings are occasionally given where a site is judged worth including but may present problems or inaccuracies.
Information currency
The Library is updated regularly, and typically undergoes a major update each year. Unlike many other sites, the update process includes:
  • checking every link to make sure the site is active
  • if a resource has "disappeared"
    1. efforts are made to find the resource in a new location (in about 40% of cases of broken links, the resource has been moved and can be re-found)
    2. if the resource cannot be located, the link is removed from the published version of the Library (but see below under Information Management)
  • checking for changes in content of sites
  • reviewing and updating annotations
  • listing new sites that have been announced, or suggested by readers
  • actively seeking out new sites
Information management
The library's data is kept in a database that is independent of these web pages.
The database stores more than 20 years’ history of resources, including information about changes of content and address, and about resources that have since gone off-line. It therefore provides documentation of data collected and decisions made during the Library's history. It also constitues a valuable repository of information about the history and evolution of Internet resources for Aboriginal languages.
The Library uses standard modern web formats to encourage the widest range of readers. Javascript is required; turn on Javascript in your browser if the search and navigation links do not work.
The editor constantly strives to provide the greatest amount of information on compact, fast-downloading pages. In January 2003, the number of listed resources reached a level where all the items for each category could not feasibly fit on a single web page. A new site was created, where an opening page provides a menu to pages containing links to each category and group of languages. In 2011, an entirely new system was created which dynamically generates results from an online SQL database. From 2015, items could be listed under multiple languages and categories to provide more flexibility and better browsing ... read more about this VL website.

Other resources for Standards and Protocols

Several other sites include information about standards and protocols for web publishing in Indigenous affairs and studies.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols for Libraries, Archives and Information Services.

AIATSIS' Guidelines for Ethical Research in Indigenous Studies.

The ABC's page on its editorial policy for Indigenous content.

http://www2.nau.edu/libnap-p/index.html (First Archivist Circle)
Protocols for Native American Archival Materials.

Historical media mentions

  • Ranked No. 1 of  "The Web's Best Sites" for Aboriginal Languages, Encyclopedia Britannica, October 2000
  • "...marvellous..." Sydney Morning Herald 30 September 2000
  • Ranked 22 globally for "Native Culture" by Ranking Agency Links2Go July 2000
  • "... a master list for Aboriginal word research"; The Australian, 23 February 1999
  • Site of the Day 17 February 1998 at "Site du Jour of the Day"

Thanks to the following people for suggestions and updates: David Nash, Paul Ah Chee Ngala, Siobhan Casson, Cassy Nancarrow, Ysola Best, Nick Thieberger, Michael Christie, Alison Hill, Justine Speed, Jorge López, Rebecca Green, Stephen Wilson, Daryn McKenny, David Roberts, Jane Simpson, Sam Moulds, Adrienne Campbell, Doug Marmion, Graham McKay, Kim Johnston, Gary Simons, Cat Kutay, Stuart Cameron, John Mansfield, Doug Marmion, Kazuko Obata, Peter Austin, Margaret Florey.

Thanks to Claire Bowern and to Ethnologue for data on ISO codes, to Gary Simons for advice on constructing ‘off-standard’ codes, and Martin Raymond for providing additional codes.