Montana State University Sponsors Library Conference

Aug 15th, 1994 | By | 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.

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