Where the Research begins: cultural learning in our national, state and territory libraries

Monday, 1 July 2019
Dr Barbara Lemon
Lesley Acres

National and State Libraries Australia (NSLA) represents the national, state and territory libraries of Australia.

In 2018, NSLA embarked on a strategic project to improve cultural competency for staff, beginning with a national roll-out of the CORE Cultural Learning program developed by AIATSIS, followed by role-specific training. The aim of the project is to ensure that our libraries are culturally safe spaces and that staff working with Indigenous collections are well informed about content and access protocols, and about the history and cultural heritage of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples those collections relate to. 

The project complements other initiatives in NSLA libraries, such as enhancing description of Indigenous research collections with codes based on the AUSTLANG language thesaurus, or providing Indigenous communities with software to tag, control, and add to their collections.

This presentation reflects on evaluation results from the pilot round of CORE Cultural Learning in NSLA libraries in 2019, including what they tell us about the assumptions and experiences of our colleagues. It outlines programs already in place in NSLA libraries to assist researchers working with Indigenous collections, looking at how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.