The popular expression ‘locked in the archive’ suggests that items are impossible to find and access once they are archived. Benefiting from new technologies, digital language and music archives nowadays provide an increasing number of records online in and about the world’s small languages. Just six of these archives list between them over 31,000 items, representing something like 2,300 languages. We can certainly do better at making records more widely available—especially records from small, marginalised and sometimes isolated communities—but how do we build pathways for re-use? We discuss the practice of the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC) through the rubric provided by the FAIR principles. Building resources for learning and teaching language, history and culture, revitalising local performance traditions or reinforcing social identity through broadcasting are all possible pathways for future re-use of archival material. Ultimately, it is up to community members to decide on what they will do with archival materials once they have access; and it is up to language archives to listen and do our best to keep the pathways open to enable that.