How many tribal libraries are there in Wisconsin?
More than three years ago, when asked this simple question, a group of UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies students recognized a gap in LIS education. We couldn’t answer the question.
Not only did most of our LIS coursework fail to include examples of how American Indian nations preserve and provide information within tribal communities, it overlooked the valuable contributions indigenous librarianship makes to the entire profession.
As a result, starting in fall 2008, ten students coordinated the first Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums course, the first-ever indigenous information offering at UW-Madison SLIS. We invited experts from departments across campus to speak, reached out to professionals around the nation for guidance, and, importantly, personally met with tribal librarians, archivists, and museum curators in reservation communities throughout Wisconsin. From a community of teachers, we learned some of the histories, practices, and concepts of tribal libraries, archives, and museums. And through visiting, we felt the living, vital part of American Indian cultural institutions.
This year marks TLAM’s third offering. Still an experimental topics course, it seeks to increase awareness of indigenous information issues within LIS, while creating long-term meaningful relationships with Wisconsin tribal cultural workers.
Check back with this blog weekly to read the impression of entirely new group of TLAM students. Each week will feature a new student writer reflecting on course topics, guest speakers, relevant events, trips, and final group community projects. TLAM’s success is the result of a community’s generosity. We hope to share that gift with you.
Welcome to TLAM 2011!
By the way, we discovered that nearly all Wisconsin American Indian communities have cultural preservation institutions. Here’s a partial list:
- Bad River Public Tribal Library
- Forest County Potawatomi Cultural Center, Library and Museum
- College of the Menominee Nation Library
- Lac du Flambeau Public Library
- George W Brown Jr. Ojibwe Museum & Cultural Center
- Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College Library
- Oneida Community Library
- Oneida Nation Museum
- Arvid E. Miller Library/Museum (Stockbridge-Munsee Community)