Tribal College Librarians Learn from Colleagues

Nov 15th, 2010 | By | Category: 22-2: Crossing Borders, Winter 2010, Community & Partnerships, Tribal College News

DEVELOPING PROFESSIONALLY. Montana State University Libraries have been reaching out to tribal college librarians for 20 years to help them network and serve their patrons. Photo courtesy of Mary Anne Hansen

By Mary Anne Hansen

In early June 2010, Montana State University Libraries (MSUL, Bozeman, MT) hosted 62 participants and presenters from 15 states and Canadian provinces and representing 37 different institutions. They gathered for a week of professional development programs for the 2010 Tribal College Librarians Institute (TCLI).

Unofficially, this was TCLI’s 20th year serving the professional development needs of tribal college librarians. (TCLI began officially in 1994, but Montana State University librarians have been providing outreach to tribal college librarians since 1990.)

This year marked the largest attendance since its inception. That’s thanks to a three-year Institute of Museum and Library Services grant received by TCLI coordinators to fund the travel expenses of participants and some presenters.

Overall, TCLI participants took part in 20 different programs and networking sessions. These covered a variety of professional development and cultural issues, including program planning, leading book groups, researching treaties, tribal college library standards, trends and issues in the field from the perspective of current library science students, Inupiat muktuk (whale) presentation, a program on the National Museum of Languages, and more.

This year’s institute also included a special presentation by Montana Poet Laureate Henry Real Bird, the first Native poet laureate to represent Montana.

Through TCLI, MSU Libraries continues its outreach to tribal college librarians and their constituencies through relevant professional development programs, consultation, and networking tailored to their unique needs.

Tribal college libraries serve a dual role because most serve as both an academic library for their campus and as a public library for the entire tribal community, oftentimes on a reservation in a geographically isolated area. TCLI has become the professional development opportunity of choice for many tribal college librarians because of its unique networking opportunities, group approach toward problem solving, and educational programs.

Started in 1990 by Kathy Kaya and Kay Carey (both of whom are now retired), TCLI is coordinated annually by Mary Anne Hansen and James Thull, both reference librarians at Montana State University.

For more information contact Mary Anne Hansen, TCLI coordinator and associate professor at Montana State University,

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