Published: October 9, 2022 by Kesheena Doctor
In honour of
Indigenous Peoples Day This October 11, I would like to share some information about Indigenous peoples and librarianship. Indigenous Peoples Day is a relatively new holiday that celebrates Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian peoples on the second Monday in October. I am Diné (Navajo) and one of my main goals as a librarian is to work with Native American students and, more broadly, Indigenous peoples.
One of my decisions to attend San Jose State University School of Information was due to the
Bridging knowledge program, which is a comprehensive scholarship program that provides funding, mentorship, networking opportunities, and professional development skills to 15 Native American, Alaska Native, and Hawaiian iSchool students. I liked that iSchool had a program for part of the Native Diaspora and I knew the school would invite Native American students like me.
The iSchool and Indigenous Students
The classes I take have a small but noticeable presence of other Indigenous students, which is always a win for Indigenous representation. I was very excited to learn the
Mukurtu CMS project, an access platform designed to adhere to Indigenous cultural protocols, in my INFO 202 Designing Information Retrieval Systems to classify. Many other course readings also reference the work of Indigenous professional librarians, and iSchool students are also invited to information sessions hosted by the Bridging Knowledge program. The first in the series, Bridging Knowledge: Collections, Acquisitions, Technical Services presented by George Gottschalkis now available on the iSchool YouTube Account.
For my INFO 200 Information Communities course, I chose to write about the information needs of Native American students and was able to learn a lot about the field of Native librarianship. Indigenous librarianship focuses on the information systems and knowledge of Indigenous peoples. It’s a radical lens to view information science and being able to research this branch of librarianship from INFO 200 has been a blessing. Since Indigenous librarianship sees the world of information science from an Indigenous perspective, this can be very beneficial in recognizing gaps in the profession and improving EDI/DEI work.
iSchool Course on Library Science and Indigenous Peoples
The iSchool also offers courses on librarianship and indigenous peoples. Dr Ulia Gosart joined iSchool this fall. She is a tenure-track assistant professor who focuses on Indigenous librarianship and currently teaches INFO 281 – Seminar on Contemporary Issues (Indigenous Cultural Institutions and Library Practices), which will also be offered in Spring 2023. ‘iSchool offers a great selection of recorded panel discussions and presentations on information science and Indigenous peoples. As part of Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Librarians Roundtable of this community, Understand and support the Asian, Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community, took place and can also be consulted. The presentation hosted by iSchool, Present at the Library: Bridging Past and Future: Improving Library Services for the Native American Communityis also available for viewing on YouTube.
Additional Notable Programs for MLIS Indigenous Students
In addition to iSchool’s Bridging Knowledge, there are a few other notable programs for Indigenous students at MLIS. The iNative Research Group from UW Information School and river of knowledge
from University of Arizona School of Information have been committed to promoting Indigenous librarianship in the United States for many years. In Vancouver, British Columbia, the University of British Columbia has an Indigenous Library, X̱wi7x̱wa bookcase. Founded in 1993, the X̱wi7x̱wa library has over 12,000 items and uses a specialized classification system centered on Indigenous knowledge. This classification system was based on the Brian Deer Classification System (BDCS), which was created by Kahnawá:ke (Mohawk) librarian Brian Deer in the 1970s. (source: Brian Deer Classification System – Indigenous Librarianship – University of British Columbia Research Guides)
There are also a number of library organizations that support indigenous peoples. In 1979, the American Indian Library Association
was formed, which addressed the specific library needs of Native American communities. AILA is an associate of the American Library Association and part of the Joint Council of Librarians of Color. The Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums is another prominent American organization. While they focus on institutions in the United States, ATALM has grown and branched out into broader issues affecting Indigenous peoples around the world. Another US-based organization to check out is the
Native American Archives Section of the Society of American Archivists.
At the international level, the International Federation of Library Associations and institutions has the Indigenous Affairs Section, which works with international indigenous library groups to provide services and information to indigenous groups. In Australia, the Australian Society of Archivists also has an aboriginal group, the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Special Interest Group. Australia also has an information site, the Indigenous Archives Collective, which reports on current issues affecting Indigenous peoples in Australia. In neighboring New Zealand, is the
Te Rōpū Whakahau Maori Association of Libraries and Information Workers.
I hope you will find this information useful and that it will enrich your understanding of information science. I am excited to see the directions Indigenous librarianship will take and how it will create a more diverse and inclusive discipline. If you have any questions or would like to discuss Indigenous librarianship further, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. Happy Indigenous Peoples Day!