25 January 2024 Blogs, Academic, Government, Faculty, Librarian

How libraries can build ethical Indigenous book collections

Librarians can find expertly curated titles in new “LibList” from ProQuest, part of Clarivate

Indigenous studies are becoming ever more common in academics. The trend is driven in part by recognition of the value of diverse and inclusive cultures. In some countries, such as Canada and Australia, governmental guidelines for colleges and universities are spurring an increase in programs that support “Indigenisation,” including hiring more Indigenous faculty and adding Indigenous course requirements.

Research papers relating to Indigenous studies are also becoming more common. A report from Times Higher Ed Education (THE) notes growth in a wide range of disciplines, from history to math. The trajectory is likely to continue upward as new research funding initiatives embrace the importance of Indigenous knowledge sources. For example, in late 2023 the National Science Foundation in the U.S. announced an investment of $30 million to support the Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledges and Science (CBIKS), which aims to “advance knowledge about environmental change and its effects on food and cultural systems at local and global scales by combining Indigenous knowledge with Western science.”

The need for Indigenous book collections

As research and curricula evolve, libraries have an opportunity to support university missions and the needs of their users with Indigenous studies book collections. However, for libraries without experts in the area, building effective, ethical collections can be a challenge.

ProQuest, part of Clarivate, is helping librarians tackle that challenge with Indigenising the Curriculum, a new Indigenous studies ebook collection, curated by Yanti Ropeyarn, Indigenous Library Liaison Officer at James Cook University’s (JCU) Eddie Koiki Mabo Library in Queensland, Australia. Ropeyarn brings significant expertise as list curator. Throughout her seven years in libraries and information services, Ropeyarn has established a variety of services and guides to support Indigenous students, staff and researchers at JCU and has helped develop culturally responsive best practices used by libraries around the world.

Titles that are by, in partnership with and on behalf of Indigenous people

Ropeyarn’s list is part of ProQuest new “LibLists” initiative, ebook lists curated by librarians with expertise in emerging or niche topics. Indigenising the Curriculum includes culturally appropriate curriculum resources using a framework developed by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) for teachers and educators. Ropeyarn notes that the titles on the list are developed:

    • By Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
    • In respectful partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
    • On behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Importantly, the list does not include titles that have no Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander input, support or partnership or titles that portray deficit or racist views.

“I have tailored this list for the Australian Higher Education context, but it can be adapted to higher education institutional settings, especially if the focus is on indigenising a course, subject or curriculum resources,” said Ropeyarn.

At just over 70 titles, Ropeyarn’s highly focused list has something for any library building a more inclusive collection.

Harnessing and sharing librarians’ collection curation expertise

LibLists are designed to foster collaboration, exchange knowledge and amplify diverse perspectives in the library community by sharing the collection development expertise of academic librarians. Developed by librarians with specialized expertise, the lists enable other librarians without the same expertise to confidently create collections in emerging or niche areas. Indigenising the Curriculum is the second LibList from ProQuest. Inclusivity in Healthcare was published in October 2023.

Explore Indigenising the Curriculum and Inclusivity in Healthcare by logging into your preferred acquisitions platform and searching for LibList under the Curated Topics sections on LibCentral, OASIS and Rialto.

We want to hear from you

Are you interested in creating a LibList? Reach out to your Product Sales Manager to ask how you can collaborate and share your expertise.

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