The collection now preserved in the Saami Culture Archive was originally founded for the practical needs for teaching Saami language and culture in the early 1970s, when teaching of Saami language began at the University of Oulu. That period marked also the beginning of extensive fieldwork that covered practically all Saami languages and living areas. Besides fieldwork, the birth of the modern Saami media, particularly the first years of the Saami radio (produced by the Finnish Broadcasting Company) was documented. In contrast to other sound archives in Finland, which have mainly material that describe the traditional life of the Saami, the Giellagas collection is unique because it contains also data from the 1970s, when modern Saami society was forming.
The collection of the Saami Culture Archive consists of notable amount of sound, video and photograph material as well as digitalised documents of the Saami traditional culture and various Saami cultural activities.
It is also possible to access Saami material found in other Finnish archives, such as Finnish Literature Society and the Institute for the Languages of Finland, the University of Turku. The Saami Culture Archive contains digital copies of the main Saami collections, and in the future this co-operation will be enhanced, as the researchers will be able to work more efficiently on this vast material.