Developing Indigenous Knowledge Centres
Pilot, Jacob, Australian Academic & Research Libraries
This chapter discusses some of the State Library of Queensland's initiatives in relation to the development of library resources and services for Queensland's Indigenous peoples. (1) As the Chair of our Indigenous Advisory Committee and member of our Library Board, Lilla Watson said:
By showing that respect to the Traditional owners, and Aboriginal protocols, we acknowledge that it was not shown in the past: land was just taken; our women were taken; many of our children were taken; and the bones of our ancestors were taken, often as curios, without any record of their names or country; artefacts and sacred objects were taken and displayed in public here and overseas; stories were taken, and often embellished, modified and published without acknowledgement, and without respect for confidentiality or protocols of their secret status; photos were taken, again, many as curios and often published without any consideration of the feelings of people featured in them. (2)
As an introduction to this chapter, in our view, Lilla's words are apt. We believe that for libraries, as custodians of knowledge and charged with ensuring that there is universal access to information, it is important to remind ourselves of the complexities when dealing with Indigenous materials. We believe the work we are doing at the State Library of Queensland is not only helping to provide library and information services to Indigenous peoples but is also challenging libraries to respond to the needs and history of Indigenous peoples, and add to the reconciliation process for all.
The Indigenous Knowledge Centres represent, in a very real example, the two-way learning process between the State Library and Indigenous communities throughout Queensland. Recognising that Indigenous peoples in Australia maintain a strong oral tradition, and working with the most remote communities in Queensland's Cape York and Torres Strait regions, the State Library has over the last two years established nine Indigenous Knowledge Centres at New Mapoon, Lockhart River, Wujal Wujal, Pormpuraaw, Aumkun, Injinoo, Darnley Island, Mabuiag Island and Pomma Island. These Indigenous Knowledge Centres are the first of 31 which will be established as a priority of the Indigenous Library Services Strategy. This process has involved challenging traditional library models and developing and exploring the potential for libraries to meet the knowledge needs of Indigenous peoples.
The Indigenous Knowledge Centres are one part of a set of initiatives being implemented by the state library to improve services for Indigenous Australians and improve the handling of Indigenous materials. Another major initiative is the Indigenous Knowledge Centre Millennium Library Project. Other important initiatives are discussed in the last section of this chapter and range from a pilot project to improve Indigenous services across the public library network, to exhibitions, to Indigenous protocols and policy development.
The Indigenous Knowledge Centre (IKC) Model
The Indigenous Knowledge Centre model that the State Library has developed is a flexible one, shaped by the way a particular community articulates their knowledge needs. It is a partnership between state government and the local Indigenous community council. The whole community can determine what their Indigenous Knowledge Centre will be to them: as special places to look after the songs, language, stories and traditions of their culture and also as a means to reach out to the wider global community.
A pivotal component of the Knowledge Centre model is the recognition that it is essential for the community to determine the way knowledge is created, retrieved, disseminated, utilised and owned. Processes have been described by Sandi Taylor
IKCs are established in close consultation with the community. When a community …
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Publication information: Article title: Developing Indigenous Knowledge Centres. Contributors: Pilot, Jacob - Author. Journal title: Australian Academic & Research Libraries. Volume: 36. Issue: 2 Publication date: June 2005. Page number: 39+. © 2007 Australian Library and Information Association. COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group.
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