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International Indigenous Librarians' Forum (IILF) Guide

Closer to the Fire, Ensuring Culturally Appropriate Library Practices

The Third International Indigenous Librarians' Forum was held Nov. 10-13, 2003 in Santa Fe, NM, United States. It was hosted by the American Indian Library Association and Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, with 125 delegates and speakers from around the world in attendance. The year's theme was Closer to the Fire, Ensuring Culturally Appropriate Library Practices and saw the creation of a draft manifesto, which is as follows:

  1. International Indigenous librarians believe all library information providers are a force for cultural and intellectual survival of indigenous people and that there exists a need for policies, procedures and practices within libraries, museums, archives and educational institutions that acknowledge the value of indigenous culture. Further, that these institutions should adopt culturally responsive guidelines to assure appropriate information services are provided.

  2. International Indigenous librarians support partnerships with library and information agencies in order to assure global initiatives are undertaken with emphasize the value of adopting culturally responsive guidelines for use by all library information providers. To implement these guidelines librarians and information providers must:

    1. mobilize and bring together those who can translate guidelines into action

    2. convince library information providers of the need for these guidelines

    3. assure that culturally responsive guidelines become policy and standard practice

  3. Issues faced by Indigenous people are much broader than matters of policies, practices, and guidelines, however. Initiatives to exert control over their intellectual and cultural property, to retain language, to preserve cultural practices are equally important goals shared in common. Therefore, the need to understand these issues in relationship to library information services, the following set of principles apply:

    1. Traditional knowledge is the intellectual property of indigenous peoples

    2. Protection of their cultural heritage is the right of indigenous peoples

    3. The primary rights of the owners of a culture must be recognized by library information providers, which should adopt strategies proposed in Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Protocols for Libraries, Archives and Information Services.

  4. International cooperation is essential for finding solutions faced by indigenous people. The International Indigenous Librarians’ Forum should be established as a permanent Forum creating a global network for sharing information, ideas and practices. Attachments to the manifesto include: Culturally Responsive Guidelines for Alaska Public Libraries; Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Protocols for Libraries, Archives and Information Services; and the Mataatua Declaration on Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Post-Conference Materials

Ongley, D. (Ed.). (2005). International Indigenous Librarians’ Forum III proceedings 2003. United States of America: American Indian Library Association.

2003 Website Archive

An archival hardcopy of the 2003 website can be found here.