ATSILIRN Protocol 11: Copying and repatriation of records

Protocol 11 deals with repatriating original records held in our collections that were created by, about or with the input of particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It recognises that holding these records in institutions effectively alienates them from the people to whom they are most relevant, and that some collection materials may have been taken from a community’s control or created by theft or deception.

Certain records may be of particular significance to a community and ready access to them can be vital for the community’s knowledge of itself. Communities may approach libraries to either provide copies of these records or to repatriate the original records themselves.

Protocol 11 asks us to respond sympathetically and cooperatively to any request from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community for paper or digital copies of specific records, and to undertake meaningful consultation with communities, with the aim of repatriating original records where it can be established that they were taken from control of the community or created by theft or deception. Libraries may ask the community’s permission to hold copies of repatriated records but should respect the community’s decision if permission isn’t given.

This protocol also describes the role of libraries in assisting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to plan and maintain suitable physical and/or digital keeping places for repatriated records and copies of records. Keeping places should be designed and located to appropriately meet the community’s needs, with appropriate storage for long-term preservation.