Thursday, September 30, 2021

Library Association Contributions to Truth and Reconciliation With Indigenous Peoples

Today marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation that is intended to honour the memory of all those who attended Canada's Indian Residential Schools and to draw attention to the legacy of abuse and discrimination of those institutions in Indigenous communities.

The creation of the day comes out of the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2015 that included 94 calls to action aimed at governments, institutions and Canadian society in general.

In reaction to the Commission report, the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA), of which the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) is a member, created a Truth and Reconciliation Committee whose report in 2017 contains 10 recommendations for the library community. 

One of its main topics is to "Decolonize Access and Classification" (i.e. descriptions in cataloguing and knowledge taxonomies).

In 2018, the So What? podcast produced by students at the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western University in London, Ontario interviewed Camille Callison from the CFLA who described the origins of the committee and explained how the report was produced.

And the most recent issue of the journal Emerging Library & Information Perspectives features an article on The Shortcomings of Bibliographic Description in Service of Indigenous Peoples in Canada that looks at the problems with current cataloguing practices and standards and draws attention to promising alternatives, some of which have been the subject of presentations at recent CALL conferences.

From the article's conclusion:

"The presence of Indigenous Knowledges and resources cannot be made sufficiently apparent to the Indigenous OPAC user in cataloguing practice as it stands. From the lack of language codes for the multitude of Indigenous languages, to the inaccuracy of the standardized language available to describe Indigenous creators' nationalities, OPACs, and therefore libraries, are failing Indigenous users. Spearheaded by the CFLA-FCAB Report on Truth and Reconciliation, momentum is building for more widespread implementation of Indigenized cataloguing policies. This paper has highlighted just a few examples of harms in bibliographic description, as well as libraries and projects that have developed policies to remedy them."

"Every LIS professional should feel empowered to take action in their workplace to embrace the TRC's ... "Calls to Action." In the face of excuses or apathy, librarians can turn to the hundreds of pages of articles in the LIS literature that advocate for this work and the CFLA-FCAB Report on Truth and Reconciliation that is sponsored by the highest professional librarianship body in what is now known as Canada. As keepers of Indigenous information resources, librarians have an ethical obligation to handle the Indigenous Knowledges in our holdings with the respect they deserve. To do so, LIS professionals must first become educated on the history of the mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples in what is now known as Canada, as well as the ongoing injustices they face. Then they must read the CFLA-FCAB Truth and Reconciliation Report and Recommendations, the summary of the final report of the TRC ... , and the TRC's ... "Calls to Action." Once educated on the basic challenges Indigenous peoples face in libraries and in this country, LIS professionals must work to cultivate relationships with local Indigenous communities so that they may make their voices be heard in their libraries. Bibliographic description is only one part of the shortcomings of library services to Indigenous peoples in what is now known as Canada. The necessary radical change cannot take place overnight, and so it is up to each of us to do our part."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:14 pm


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