Acronyms of Roads to Oral Archives and Sustainability, ROADS is a Project of Significant National Interest (PRIN), which aims to recover and preserve oral archives from the last seventy years, thus enabling the research activities of scholars in the fields of linguistics and oral history.

What is ROADS?

The ROADS project aims to address the challenge of accessibility and reuse of oral archives, with a focus on the Italian context. But, let's take a step backwards first... what is an oral archive and why is it important?

The term oral archives refers to archives that contain oral sources, that is, in which sound documentation is maintained in relationship to the context of production and described taking care to adequately represent that relationship.
The oral source is one of many sources that historians and researchers use. They are used by academics from many disciplines, with variable approaches, in some cases similar to those taken by historians, in others very different. In general, oral sources are simply recordings in audio and audiovisual form of interviews and testimonies produced as part of conducted research.
Oral archives, consequently, represent a precious source of collective knowledge and memories, as they contain direct testimonies of experiences, life stories, cultural traditions, languages and dialects, offering an authentic and immediate perspective on a community's history and culture. These archives are crucial to the understanding and preservation of cultural identity, linguistic diversity and local traditions. In addition, they are crucial for academic research, teaching, and the promotion of historical and cultural awareness.

However, the growing importance of these archives in the context of the rapid evolution of knowledge management practices has not yet been fully understood in Europe. This lack is due to a number of factors, including the lack of adequate infrastructure and policies for the preservation and access to oral archives, the lack of awareness of the importance of such archives in society and in academic research, as well as the lack of common standards for the management and conservation of these resources.

In particular, in Italy the situation is rather fragmented: in fact, the conservation of oral heritage is generally addressed at a local level or even individually by individual researchers. Furthermore, there is a lack of common protocols for the treatment of oral archives generated by past research.
This situation highlights the need for a more coordinated and strategic approach to preserve and enhance oral heritage in Europe and Italy, and this is where the objective of ROADS lies.

The ROADS project aims to ensure the sustainability of oral archives, foster cooperation between humanities and technology disciplines, promote access and use of research data, and train a new generation of researchers.
The project is divided into macro work areas, ranging from the mapping of oral archives, to the development of an infrastructure for the management and access to archives, from education to training, and to the archiving of a pilot oral archive. In order to do this, it was necessary to create a data management plan, collaborate with CLARIN-IT and establish an advisory council to oversee the project.
With this settings, a significant social impact is expected (and hoped), including the enhancement of cultural identity and social cohesion, as well as the enhancement of professional skills and education. Finally, the project aims to foster innovation and promote scientific progress.

Find out other details about the ROADS project!

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