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Some Canadian public library Aboriginal services updates

It seems that I have no time to blog since returning to work from maternity leave. Our organization isn’t core funded, so I’m busy with proposal writing, planning, and budget development. I come home and want to spend time with our 15-month old son, and before I know it, it is time for bed!

When I catch a spare moment, I take steps to remain current on where things are at regarding Aboriginal librarianship in Canada and/or librarianship for Aboriginal peoples in Canada. I’ve recently found the following items that identify some of the activities going on in urban, public libraries. Here they are:

Thanks go out to these libraries for sharing this information. It can be challenging to find out what libraries are doing (if you don’t ask each of them directly). Reporting on these activities and making this information publicly accessible is an important part of the process. These reports provide guidance to others, contribute to the generation of new ideas, and provide necessary information for analyzing trends in this area of librarianship.

If your library has a similar summary to share, please let me know and I’d be happy to add it to the list. As Kokum Mary from Wapos Bay might say, “Inquiring minds want to know, you know”. By the way, season 2 of Wapos Bay is now available for purchase. I highly recommend this program for all public libraries in Canada. It is an absolute gem.

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The Working Together Project

The Working Together Project focuses on examining and developing tools to support public libraries in more effectively meeting the needs of the underserved and socially excluded. On the project website, it states that:

Libraries remain primarily successful in serving the middle-class while the disadvantaged, the non-literate and those from marginal social circumstances do not necessarily feel welcome and do not feel that the services provided are for them. A substantial body of literature going back to the Royal Commission on Poverty and further demonstrates that government offices, schools and hospitals/doctor’s offices are frightening and alien to many who are disadvantaged in society. Libraries are perhaps less intimidating but still not comfortable places for many socially excluded people.

The Project has recently released a very impressive resource, The Community-Led Libraries Toolkit. It provides a lot of sound advice and examples from community development librarians throughout the country and could be of benefit to many libraries.

Those of us who work for the members of our communities who are traditionally underserved by and underrepresented in libraries know that community involvement is essential to librarianship.  In order for us to better serve the traditionally underserved, we need to engage, engage, engage. I think that oftentimes we forget that our community members are the experts! We librarians and library workers are the facilitators.

New report: Welcoming Places – Ideas for public library services for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders

A new report was recently released by the State Library of Queensland entitled “Welcoming Places: Ideas for Public Library Services for Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islanders“. It outlines the results of their Listen Here! project, that focused on documenting ideas and case studies for improving library services for Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. Lots of food for thought in this report.

Paper on achieving ethnic diversity in academic and research libraries

A relatively new (July 2007) paper has been released entitled “Achieving Racial and Ethnic Diversity among Academic and Research Librarians: The Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement of Librarians of Color.” Authored by the ACRL Board of Directors ACRL Task Force and produced by Teresa Y. Neely and Lorna Peterson, the paper provides a literature review and recommendations for consideration.

A companion piece to the paper also exists. Authored by Julie Todaro, this piece summarizes the recommendations, identifies a range of ideas to put them into action, and highlights those currently being implemented by the ACRL.