Statement of support: Tandanya Adelaide Declaration

National and State Libraries Australasia Inc. (NSLA) endorses the Tandanya Adelaide Declaration.

The declaration was first published in 2019 and signed at the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Adelaide by members of the GLAM sector, led by the International Council on Archives’ (ICA) Expert Group on Indigenous Matters and the National Archives of Australia.

NSLA libraries are committed to supporting the declaration’s five themes: knowledge authorities, property and ownership, recognition and identity, research and access, and self-determination.

With this commitment comes acknowledgement that the collection material held within our institutions is a powerful resource for First Nations peoples, and can be both enlightening and wounding. The sensitivity and significance of this material means that NSLA libraries have a particular responsibility to adopt and embed culturally appropriate collection management practices, and in doing so, to challenge or overturn practices arising from our colonial origins as collecting institutions that are now understood to be deeply harmful.

Examples of work underway within NSLA libraries include:

  • Knowledge authorities: Development of sector-wide guidelines for First Nations collection description that point to knowledge authorities, working with AIATSIS and peak bodies ALIA, CAUL and CAVAL. Consistent adoption of AIATSIS thesauri in Australia and Ngā Upoko Tukutuku in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Property and ownership: Training across member libraries on Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) and its application within collecting institutions. Development of formal protocols for recognition of ICIP. Contribution to government inquiries on legislative changes to enable recognition of Indigenous Knowledge (IK).
  • Recognition and identity: Appointments to First Nations-identified roles in collection management, community engagement, and senior governance. Provision of mandatory training in cultural capability for all staff. Ongoing engagement with First Nations communities in the development of programs and services. Central role for First Nations advisory groups and specialists in developing collection guidelines.
  • Research and access: Provision of dedicated spaces for First Nations peoples to view and examine collections. Improvements in collection description practices designed to improve discoverability of First Nations collections for First Nations peoples. Channels to enable a ‘right of reply’ to collection description.
  • Self-determination: Community engagement and direct involvement in acquisition and description of original collections. Repatriation (digital and/or physical) of selected collections in consultation with First Nations communities. Mapping of digital and physical keeping places (community-led) and sharing of best practice.