The folktales of Asbjørnsen and Moe, legends about the hulder and the hidden people and ballads like Draumkvedet are important elements in Norwegian culture. The folktales are being read, the ballads sung, and most people have a conception of what a hulder might look like. And yet, the original sources to this folk culture are not easily accessible. SAMLA will change this situation.
SAMLA digitizes and makes accessible the archival material of the three main Norwegian tradition archives: The Norwegian Folklore Archives (Norsk Folkeminnesamling) at the University of Oslo, Norwegian Ethnological Research (Norsk etnologisk gransking) at The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History and The Ethnofolkloristic Archives (Etnofolkloristisk arkiv) at the University of Bergen. These archives contain a rich source material that will be made accessible at the web page samla.no as a joint digital archive. The technical infrastructure is created and maintained by the University Library at the University of Bergen.
The digital archive samla.no will for the most part be openly accessible. Thus, SAMLA will open a huge treasure chest of cultural history to be used by researchers, students, the cultural heritage sector, business and the general public. The material will mainly be readable as facsimiles. But through a pilot for machine reading of handwritten text and transcription by using crowdsourcing, SAMLA will facilitate a process of making transcripts accessible.
Samla.no will make it possible to search for single phenomena and variants of single narratives, but also to search across archives, genres, and categories of material. Thereby samla.no will facilitate both local historical and cultural historical micro studies and transnational big data analyses.
SAMLA uses KulturNav in order to handle authority registers of persons, institutions and places. SAMLA puts emphasis on the uses of international standards that enable coordination with similar infrastructures in other countries in order to make it possible to search the archive materials across national borders and languages. SAMLA has established an international network to enable such coordination.
SAMLA is aimed at researchers and students in disciplines like cultural history, cultural studies, museology, and history. At the same time, it is a goal to develop a digital archive that may be used by a broader public and by businesses of various kinds. Therefore, SAMLA has established a user panel with representatives working within different societal sectors, such as teacher education, Sami language training, museums, local history, traditional food, game design and fantasy literature. SAMLA also cooperates with The Norwegian Institute of Local history (Norsk lokalhistorisk institutt) at the National Library on communicating results through Lokalhistoriewiki. There, SAMLA publishes biographies of the most important folklore collectors represented in the archives.
The digitization work is well under way, but the internet archive will not be launched until 2024. In the meantime, the website samla.no functions as a blog to disseminate the project.
SAMLA will establish a national infrastructure for Norwegian intangible heritage from three tradition archives. These archives hold records of a diversity of cultural expressions and practises of both majority, minority and indigenous cultures in Norway, in the form of folktales, ballads, beliefs, food and craft traditions, life stories as well as descriptions of children's games. The material is valuable for research on everyday life and mentalities, attitudes and world views, and allows for the exploration of continuity and changes in cultural practices. The fundamental idea of SAMLA is in accordance with the FAIR principles, to make the data findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.
The three partner archives are: Norsk Folkeminnesamling, University of Oslo (NFS), Norsk etnologisk gransking, Stiftelsen Norsk Folkemuseum (NEG) and Etnofolkloristisk arkiv (EFA), University of Bergen. The partner archives will work as three physical nodes located in Oslo and Bergen.
SAMLA will establish a digital database and an infrastructure that allows for advanced searches across archive institutions and types of material. The project also aims to coordinate this national infrastructure with corresponding digital infrastructures in Denmark, Iceland and Sweden, and with the European project Intelligent Search Engine for Belief Legends, ISEBEL. The e-infrastructure will be developed by the University of Bergen Library. The database will be openly accessible as a web-archive on the webpage samla.no.