Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Supporting and working effectively with indigenous students #wlic2014

Liveblogging at the World Library and Information Conference (IFLA) 2014 in Lyon, France, I attended a session of the IFLA IndigenousMatters special interest group. Camille Callison (Indigenous Services Librarian and Liaison Librarian for Anthropology, Native Studies and Social Work, University of Manitoba, Canada; pictured at the lectern) talked about Supporting and working effectively with indigenous students whilst building and strengthening relationships between indigenous communities and the academic library. She felt that libraries and archives play a vital role in helping preserving and honouring indigenous culture and history. At Manitoba they wanted to be a centre of excellence for indigenous education and research. This includes engaging with the community, and ensuring that indigenous cultures and knowledge are integrated into work and study. Here is the link to their Indigenous Connect website: http://umanitoba.ca/indigenous/. Callison identified the history of distrust and cultural imperialism, and a "culture of whiteness" in crricula and library holdings, which all provide barriers to achievement.
One way in which these barriers are addressed is through a home and community (Bald Eagle Lodge). They have also attempted to decolonise the library, although this is a slow process (for example classification systems e.g. that indigenous people are "ghettoised" in "History"; the confusion about cvarious LC subject headings to do with indigenous people).

Callison said that the library aims to address the unique needs of the indigenous students. Strategies include: recognising bias; bringing the library to students by having sessions in the Migizii Agamik (sitting by the lift to catch them on their way to coffee!) and having special sesions in the library; dialogue e.g. in the classroom, working with them on assignments; having a special Facebook group; relationship building with the local indigenous community; holding an Aboriginal Archives Day and a storytelling event.

She visits schools and other recruitment events so the prospective students know they will be supported. Collection development is also important, in the general collections and special collections e.g. graphic novels. Collison also talked about the library's role in terms of preserving and giving access to indigenous knowledge.The third photo here shows a statement about indigenising the academy (which I wasn't quick enough to transcribe)
She mentioned a book in which she has a chapter Aboriginal and visible minority librarians book and the International indigenous librarians Forum to be held in 2015.

No comments: