Montana State University Sponsors Library ConferenceAug 15th, 1994 | By tcj | Category: 6-2: Spirituality, Tribal College News
Not all libraries are the same, and tribal college lending institutions face a unique set of challenges. This past summer, the Tribal College Library Professional Development Institute offered a forum for tribal college librarians.
Kathy Kaya and Kay Carey, reference librarians at Montana State University opened the institute for American Indian Higher Education Consortium and member institution librarians this year. Begun in 1990, the institute originally was offered to Montana librarians and later regional tribal libraries.
The week-long conference featured guest speakers, and discussed the problems of Indian librarians. As Kaya states, “Tribal libraries often serves the community as a lending facility, a college library and as an information resource center for the government.”
Coupled with a small budget and a limited collection, tribal college librarians have had to develop new systems to deal with their situation.
Fond du Lac Community College has just hired Rebekah Azen, who is a trained librarian and archivist, with a bachelor’s from the University of New Mexico in university studies and a master’s in library science from Louisiana State University, with a specialization in archives.
Along with her education, Azen has had four years of hands-on experience in American Indian librarianship at the University of New Mexico, and a real interest in native American life.
A participant in the past conference, she speaks of how the college library has overcome its isolation from other lending facilities and small collection. “We are already hooked up to the Internet, and have an online access catalog. [As both] an AIHEC college and a state community college, we are also linked with the Minnesota community college access system.”
Despite the small collection, Azen’s past experience and expertise will help the collection grow. She already has long term plants to build the college’s collection to meet the Fond du Lac reservation’s needs.
Azen also has the benefit of having participated in the institute. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education this year, each conference participant received access to a 1-800 number in order to log-on to the Internet for free, and keep in touch with everyone who attended.
As Kaya states, “The institute did not try to come up with solutions, but offer a forum for discussion and ideas.” For Azen and other tribal librarians, discussion of their day to day library challenges was solution enough.