Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Library Service to Native Americans

This post is prompted by my acquisition of an original photograph (shown above) which depicts a bookmobile/traveling library on a Southwestern United States Indian reservation circa 1940s. A hand written caption on the back of the photograph reads: "Indian Day School and Traveling Library supplied by the govt. through the Indian Service." The signage on the bookmobile reads U.S.I.S. Traveling Library. The Indian Service became the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1947. There is no indication of the exact location of the school and bookmobile. It appears from the photograph that some sort of event has just taken place. The bookmobile could take the prize in an ugly bookmobile contest. Let's hope that the books inside were more attractive. The windows on the bookmobile are probably and indication that it was a converted bus of some kind. Library service to Native Americans and the education of children on reservations is an uneven story at best. The Summer 2000 issue of Library Trends contains an article by Lotsee Patterson titled "History and Status of Native Americans in Librarianship" which is online. There's a fairly good overview of American Indian boarding schools which preceded reservation day schools on Wikipedia. I have a previous post on the Carlisle Indian School Library in Pennsylvania. The American Indian Library Association (AILA) was formed in 1979 as a result of the awareness that library services to Native Americans were inadequate. The AILA is affiliated with ALA and will have a meeting on January 26 at the ALA conference in Philadelphia. Tribal libraries have benefited greatly from Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The University of Wisconsin - Madison School of Library and Information Studies sponsors the Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums Project (TLAM) which brings "indigenous information topics to LIS education through service-learning, networking, and resource sharing with Wisconsin’s tribal cultural institutions."

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