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Canada needs an “American Indian Library Association”

In the United States, there is a great organization called the American Indian Library Association (AILA). I’ve provided a link to them in my blogroll. Anyhow, AILA has been in existence since the late 1970s (pretty impressive in the non-profit sector to last that long), and came into existence based on “increasing awareness that library services for Native Americans were inadequate. Individuals as well as the government began to organize to remedy the situation.”

In Canada, we have “interest groups” and “committees”, which means that yes, there are people interested and committed to library services for First Peoples, but no organization to spearhead these efforts nationally. I think that we need to have a membership-based non-profit dedicated to these efforts that might choose to be affiliated with existing library associations, but independent of them.

I question the following:

  • Why aren’t we organizing together as a collective? Though pockets of people throughout the country aren’t bad and are essential to meet local needs, where is the space for all of us to get together and develop new efforts that have a national impact?
  • How can we get library services for First Peoples on the agenda throughout Canada if these efforts are conducted locally or provincially, but no place exists for these efforts nationally?
  • What is the role of the national library? 
  • Are we reinventing the wheel throughout Canada and don’t know it because we have no place to “bring our hearts and minds together”?

I have literature going back to the 1960s about library services for Aboriginal peoples in Canada, so these efforts have been going on for a long time now (though I question the motives of those services during the 60s given residential schools, the 60s scoop, etc.). Today, we see increasing activity in this area throughout the country. Libraries on reserve are growing, public libraries in urban centres are taking steps to focus on meeting the needs of Aboriginal peoples, the national library has developed its own plan of action…so…

why, after all of these years, do we not have an AILA equivalent in Canada?


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