Librarians Discover Resources in Washington

Nov 15th, 2001 | By | Category: 13-2: The Power of Partnerships, Tribal College News

Institute participants study historic maps at the Library of Congress. Pictured (left to right): Jani Costilla (cut off), Blackfeet Community College; Eva English, Fort Belknap College; Kathy Kaya, Montana State University; Clyde Henderson, Crownpoint Institute of Technology; Wally Rea, Leech Lake Tribal College; Lucinda Silvers, Annie Lewis, and Patrick Sandoval, all from Diné College; Yatty Fischer, Nebraska Indian Community College; and Jane Kirby, Sisseton Wahpeton Community College.

Librarians and library technicians representing 22 tribal colleges and universities participated in the 8th Annual Tribal College Librarians Professional Development Institute in Washington, DC, July 9-13.  The National Agricultural Library hosted the institute, which is usually held at the Montana State University Libraries in Bozeman.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most of the tribal college librarians to be able to experience the wealth of information available to them in the Washington area,” according to Kathy Kaya, librarian at MSU and founder of the institute. The week-long institute was launched by Chief Billy Redwing Tayac of the Piscataway Indian Nation, who led the participants in a traditional tobacco ceremony on the grounds of the U.S. Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, MD.

Experts from the area shared information on such diverse topics as the history of American Indian education at the Hampton Institute and the preservation of Native American traditional crops and germplasm.  Full-day workshops were held at the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration where the librarians discovered information resources to serve their faculty and students back home.

The librarians visited the Smithsonian Institution’s cultural resource center, which is preserving many of the artifacts that will be relocated to the new National Museum of the American Indian building on the Washington Mall when construction is completed next year. At the Museum of American History and the National Library of Medicine, they saw demonstrations of new information technology advances.

The week ended with presentations by federal agency representatives who direct programs involved with Native American education and by leaders of national Native American organizations based in Washington. The institute was the largest in its history and gave the librarians an opportunity to develop key contacts at the various federal agencies. They also forged new friendships among the participants. The tribal college librarians have their own email list serve and share information regularly.

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