IRCS Workshop on Open Language Archives

10-12 December 2002
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA

Organized by Steven Bird and Gary Simons
Funded by the National Science Foundation


OLAC, the Open Language Archives Community, was founded at the Workshop on Web-Based Language Documentation and Description, in December 2000. During 2001, the OLAC development phase, the core infrastructure for OLAC was built and alpha testers implemented data providers. During 2002, the pilot phase, we froze the standards to encourage wider adoption and experience with the metadata and the protocol. At the close of 2002 we want to draw together all this experience, make final revisions, and launch the operational phase. With this launch, the OLAC standards will be promoted from "candidate" to "adopted", and version 1.0 of the OLAC XML schemas will be released.

Workshop Goals

The workshop will be tightly focussed on the following goals:

  1. Standards: To revise the three proposed standards, the OLAC Metadata Set, the OLAC Process document and the OLAC Protocol.
  2. Vocabularies: To finalize the controlled vocabularies: linguistic type, software functionality, rights, format, encoding, ...
  3. Review: To give feedback to each participating archive on its use of metadata, to review the services on the OLAC and LINGUIST sites.
  4. Proposals: To hear new proposals for working groups, encoding schemes, implementation notes and best practice recommendations, and position papers on work that still needs to be done.

In support of these goals, the workshop will consist of: group discussions, both plenary and in parallel working groups; review/editing of documents, both in working groups and in private; plus a limited number of presentations (cf goal 4). NB. No time will be allocated for project reports in the formal program.


The workshop is open to advisory board members and representatives of participating archives, consistent with our core value of "Empowering the Players" [].

(NB. If you have been thinking about becoming an OLAC data provider, now would be a good time to act. Any archive that becomes a data provider by October 1 will also be invited to participate in this foundation setting workshop. For more information on becoming a data provider, please see


The workshop is being sponsored by the NSF ISLE project "International Standards in Language Engineering". We have funding for accomodation at the University Sheraton, a short walk from IRCS. No registration fee will be charged. Some travel support may also be available.

Preparatory Tasks

In order to ensure that the workshop achieves its goals, participants will be expected to help create, review and edit draft documents ahead of the meeting. We would like each person to contribute 1-2 days each month to this effort from September onwards. The preparatory tasks correspond to our workshop goals, and are as follows:

  1. Standards: review all the standards documents and suggest revisions
  2. Vocabularies: review some of the controlled vocabularies and suggest revisions
  3. Review: choose three participating archives besides your own and suggest improvements to their use of metadata; review the site and the service and suggest improvements.
  4. Proposals: draft an encoding scheme, an implementation note, a best practice recommendation, or a proposal for anything else that needs to be done, and present it to the group.

The success of the workshop will depend on active participation in these tasks. Comments circulated in advance will have the most impact on our work. To facilitate the process we will use this list, OLAC-Implementers, except where formal working groups have already been established with their own lists. Note that OLAC-Implementers is an open, unmoderated list, archived on the LINGUIST site at:

Steven Bird, Gary Simons,
Open Language Archives Community