School of Library and Information Studies

LIS 598 Aboriginal Libraries

Course Outline

Course Description:
To provide students with an introduction to available Aboriginal information resources and services; To discuss the benefits and unique challenges for librarians and other information specialists in providing information and services to all Canadians on this topic.

Course Objectives:
Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify client and information needs of Aboriginal peoples;
  2. Describe and illustrate relevant types of Aboriginal information resources, services, programming, activities or projects that may be used in libraries or information centers;
  3. Discuss the challenges and responsibilities of libraries creating and maintaining an inclusive environment within the broader context of library development;
  4. Develop approaches toward engaging, collaborating or partnering with Aboriginal peoples or organizations in the development of literacy and outreach initiatives;
  5. Discuss the challenges and responsibilities of libraries in recruitment and retention of Aboriginal peoples and in developing the competencies of non-Aboriginal peoples to work in this area. 

A combination of lectures, readings and resources, discussions, audiovisual materials, individual and group activities and guest speakers will be included during the course. 

Required Readings:

Sound Practices in Library Services to Aboriginal Peoples: Integrating Relationships, Resources and Realities. Prepared By: Aboriginal Library Services Working Group and written by Mary Cavanagh. For: Provincial/Territorial Public Library Council. August, 2009.

Report of the Task Force on Library Services for Aboriginal Peoples. [Edmonton]: Edmonton Public Library, 2005.

Report and Recommendations of the Consultation on Aboriginal Resources and Services. Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada, 2004.

Our Words, Our Ways, Teaching First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learners, K-12 “Worldviews and Aboriginal Cultures: Where hearts are rooted.” Chapter One. [Edmonton] Alberta Education, 2005. Available online:

“[Theme:] Information Resources for Aboriginal Peoples.” Feliciter. Vol. 49, No. 5 (2003).

“Digital libraries: barriers or gateways to scholarly information?” Byrne, Alex. The Electronic Library, Vol. 21, No. 5 (2003), pp. 414-421. 

Recommended Readings:

“First Nation Communities Read: A Tale Worth Telling.” Lawlor, Patty and Maria Martella. Canadian Children's Book News. Vol. 32, No. 1 (Winter 2009), p. 8-11.

“Don't Know Much About Native American Students.” Barber, Cecilia. Teacher Librarian. Vol. 36, No. 3 (February 2009), p. 35-6.

“Libraries and the First Nations People of Canada.” Bartleman, James. IFLA Journal. Vol. 34, No. 4, (2008), p. 337-40.

“Promoting Literacy: Roy Serves Nation's Librarians and Native Children.” Fischer, Audrey. Library of Congress Information Bulletin. Vol. 67, No. 1/2 (January/February 2008), p. 25.

"Storytelling as a Foundation to Literacy Development for Aboriginal Children: Culturally and Developmentally Appropriate Practices." McKough, A., Bird, S., Tourigny, A.R., Graham, S., Ottmann, J., & Jeary, J. Canadian Psychology, Vol. 49, No. 2 (2008), p. 148-154.

"Families Learning Together: A Family Literacy Program with Mi'kma Communities in Atlantic Canada." Timmons, V., Walton, F., O'Keefe, A.R., & Wagner, M. Canadian Journal of Native Education, Vol. 31, No. 2 (2008), p. 94-174.

“Change Masters All: A Series on Librarians Who Steered a Clear Course Toward the Twenty-first Century: An Interview with Lotsee Patterson, Twila Camp.” Library Administration and Management. Vol. 21, No. 1 (Winter 2007), p. 5-8.

“Honoring Generations: Recruiting Native Students into Careers in Librarianship.” Roy, Loriene and Antony Cherian. Public Libraries. Vol. 45, No. 1, (January/February 2006), p. 48-52.

Library Services to Indigenous Populations. Viewpoints & Resources. Edited and Annotated by Kelly Webster. With Contributions From Bonnie Biggs, David Ongley, Karen Alexander, Carlene Engstrom, Naomi Caldwell and Lotsee Patterson. Chicago: Office for Literacy and Outreach Services, 2005.

A Book in Every Hand. Public Libraries in Saskatchewan. “Indian and Aboriginal Libraries 1967 – 2005.” Chapter Seventeen. Kerr, Don. Regina: Coteau Books, 2005.

Paper Talk : a history of libraries, print culture, and aboriginal peoples in Canada before 1960. Edwards, Brendan Frederick R. Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 2005.

“Aboriginal Voice National Recommendations. From Digital Divide to Digital Opportunity.” The Crossing Boundaries Papers. Ottawa: KTA Centre for Collaborative Government, 2005. Available online: hl=en&rlz=1T4ADBF_enCA293CA318&q=The+Crossing+Boundaries+aboriginal+voice&meta=&aq=f&oq=

“Aboriginal Culture in the Digital Age.” Nickerson, Marcia. Policy, Politics & Governance. Vol. 10, (July 2005). Available online:

Our Way Forward: A Strategic Plan for Ontario First Nation Public Libraries. Prepared by: Ontario First Nation Public Library Strategic Plan Liaison Committee. Final Report [for] Ontario Library Service-North: Sudbury, 2004

Libraries Without Walls: The World Within Your Reach. A Vision for Public Libraries in British Columbia. Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services, Public Library Services Branch. [Vancouver]: Government of British Columbia, 2004.

“Connecting with Aboriginal Students.” Gallagher-Hayashi, Diane. Teacher Librarian. Vol. 31, No. 5, (June 2004), p. 20-4.

“Nunavut: Talk about Remote!” Kniffel, Leonard. American Libraries. Vol. 35, No. 3 (March 2004), p. 32-5.

“Reaching Out to the Underserved.” Hayden,-Carla-D. American Libraries. Vol. 35, No. 3, (March 2004), p. 5.

Website: Aboriginal Human Resource Development Council

The Potential Contribution of Aboriginal Canadians to the Labour Force, Employment, Productivity and Output Growth in Canada, 2001-2017 / by Andrew Sharpe, Jean-Francois Arsenault and Simon Lapointe. Series: Centre for the Study of Living Standards Research Report No. 2007-04.
Available online:

Employment Barriers and Aboriginal Working Life: Towards a Representative Workplace in Saskatchewan. Richard J. Klyne. Master’s Thesis, Regina: University of Regina, 2002. Available online:

“I” Still Isn’t for Indian. A look at recent publishing about Native Americans.” Lindsay, Nina. School Library Journal. (November 2003), p 42.

Information Is For Everyone: Final Report of the Minister's Advisory Committee on Library Services for Aboriginal People. Saskatchewan. Minister's Advisory Committee on Library Services for Aboriginal People. [Regina]: The Committee, 2001.

“Public Library Service to The Indians of Canada.” Adamson, Edith. Canadian Library Journal. Vol. 26, (1969).
Workshop Topics 

  1. Who are the Aboriginal Peoples in Canada?
  2. In terms of library development, what does an inclusive environment look like? Consider space, collections, programs and services, funding, administration, access.
  3. Librarianship – Cross cultural communications and competencies -An inquiry into recruitment and retention?
  4. What are client and/or user, interests and needs?
  5. In terms of outreach, collaboration, partnerships, what are some effective practices for engaging clients and community? 

Guest Speakers:(tbd)

Assignments and Evaluation:

  • Class Participation – 10%
  • Research Project – 30%
  • Project Plan - 60%

Research Project (30%):
Students will write a 3-5 page research paper on an aspect of interest, in either the area of library development and management; library programs and services; library research in support of client information needs; or other approved topic.  Possible topic areas could relate to:

  • An acquitision or programming Policy Framework, Strategy or Direction paper on engaging, collaborating or partnering with Aboriginal Peoples;
  • An analysis of recruitment and retention of Aboriginal peoples in librarianship and libraries and the required knowledge, skills and competencies of non-Aboriginal peoples working in this area;
  • An analysis of client /user information interests and needs specific to Aboriginal peoples;
  • An analysis into “outreach” as an effective library program or service to Aboriginal peoples;
  • An examination of social networking and the impact, or not, on Aboriginal users or non-users;
  • An analysis of the availability of material, print, electronic, etc., and criteria for identifying appropriate or inappropriate materials used in programming.

Project Plan – 60%: 

Students will develop a project charter or project plan for a library program or service to Aboriginal peoples.   The charter will include the essential elements explaining why the program is needed, how it will be developed and what resources will be required to implement it on one of the following or other approved topic:

  • National Aboriginal History Month Program
  • Aboriginal Storytelling/Reading/Literacy Program
  • Providing Access/Distant Programming to Remote/Isolated Communities
  • Creating Inclusive and Culturally Affirming Environments  
  • Collaborative Relationships and Partnerships: Engaging in Collaborating with Business/Government/Aboriginal Communities through an identified, viable and sustainable Aboriginal Program, Project or Activity such as an Elder or Youth Literacy Program.