New resource: Working with Indigenous Collections

A woman holds an image of her uncle, Valentine Hare, one of the hundreds of Indigenous soldiers who served in World War 1
Image from the State Library of Queensland's 'Indigenous soldier portraits' case study.

As part of our Culturally Safe Libraries Program, NSLA has developed a suite of free online resources to help staff in the GLAM sector who are working with Indigenous collections.

Working with Indigenous Collections is based on nationally recognised protocols developed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library and Information Resource Network (the ATISILIRN Protocols) specifically for libraries, archives and information services.

These protocols help us to understand the practical application of concepts such as secret and sacred materials, Indigenous cultural and intellectual property, appropriate description and classification, and the right of reply.

While NSLA libraries have long endorsed the ATSILIRN Protocols as a framework for working with Indigenous collections, members recognise that they are not as well-known or well-used in our collection practices and services as they should be.

The resources are not designed for assessment or formal learning, but present eight discrete sections that can be perused in any order. Each includes:

  • a plain language explanation of one of the ATSILIRN protocols
  • a video featuring a member of Blakforce – NSLA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff network – describing how that protocol can be applied in our work with collections
  • case studies illustrating the protocol in action
  • a set of activities that can be undertaken individually or in groups
  • a range of further resources to explore.

Working with Indigenous Collections was originally created by NSLA as an accompaniment to a workshop program for collections staff in our libraries, designed to follow the rollout of Core Cultural Learning foundation training developed by AIATSIS. The Core course is currently being undertaken by all staff in NSLA libraries.

Given their broad applicability, the resources are being made freely available online to encourage the Australian library and archives sector to adopt culturally safe collections practices. This is also part of NSLA’s responsibility to further cultural competency in the sector, as outlined in the joint report with ALIA and APLA, Australian libraries support the Sustainable Development Goals. In this, we will continue to work alongside our colleagues in the GLAM sector who have developed a range of useful resources in policy and practice (see below).

All resources created by NSLA for the Culturally Safe Libraries Program are licensed under Creative Commons (CC-BY). Under this licence, you are free to copy, distribute, remix and build upon this content as long as you acknowledge National and State Libraries Australia.

Further resources for the GLAM sector

First Peoples: A Roadmap for Enhancing Indigenous Engagement in Museums and Galleries – AMAGA

Indigenous Record Keeping and Archives training – Australian Society of Archivists

Indigenous Archives and Data Stewardship Projects – Jumbunna Institute, UTS

Indigenous matters – ALIA