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Rural and Small Libraries: The Tribal Experience



This chapter discusses some of the challenges faced by tribal libraries. Considering the information provided throughout the rest of this volume, it is clear that some of the core issues-such as poor broadband availability, difficulties in achieving economies of scale, and barriers to collaboration-are shared between tribal institutions and rural libraries throughout the United States. The chapter presents a brief review of the literature on tribal libraries, establishing how they compare with rural public libraries in the United States. The remainder of the chapter is designed as a conversation piece, with responses from interviews with librarians from two tribal libraries detailing how the challenges faced by these outlets parallel those faced by America's rural libraries. • Tribal libraries face obstacles that are common among nontribal rural public libraries, such as poor broadband Internet availability, lack of funding, and geographic barriers that limit patron access. • Although public libraries exist in some tribal communities, other forms of libraries and cultural heritage institutions often fill the service roles that public libraries occupy in nontribal communities. • Public-oriented information institutions in tribal communities commonly preserve and promote tribal heritage, often as one of their primary purposes. Considering that this is often achieved on limited budgets, further documentation of these efforts could be useful for guiding nontribal rural public libraries that wish to do more to preserve and promote their local cultural heritage. This study creates bridges between rural public libraries in the United States and tribal libraries, which are commonly studied as two separate phenomena. Although the authors document how these types of institutions differ from each other in significant ways, barriers of broadband access, geographic isolation, and lack of funding are common across both rural and tribal libraries. The information provided in this chapter shows that both types of institutions need solutions for similar problems. Copyright © 2018 by Emerald Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the operation and management as well as the activities of tribal libraries in general, providing insights and implications in five areas: general operations and management, staffing and human resource management, financial operations, service and program management, and technology-related activities, using Oglala Lakota College (OLC) Library as a case study. Design/methodology/approach This paper uses information visualization techniques to create visual displays of report data collected from OLC Library. Visualizations were created using Tableau software to provide a quantitative, analytical, and evidence-based view of how tribal libraries operate and are managed. Findings Tribal populations can be well served despite limited funding and staff resources, providing academic and public library services on par with urban libraries. Research limitations/implications Drawing a story from the data proved to be difficult because a bias had been created by the legal service area that most tables of the state data set used to compare reported data. How tribal libraries translate value also posed another challenge. Because the research was conducted in a single tribal library, further research in different, expanded settings and contexts is suggested. Originality/value This study is one of the first to investigate tribal library activities by exploring report data and quantitatively using information visualization techniques.
This paper presents a model for assessing the role libraries play in meeting the institutional goals and objectives of the American Indian tribal colleges. Vie Carnegie Report entitled Tribal Colleges: Shaping the Future of Native America serves as the departure point for this assessment. In analyzing the library's role, the paper applies to tribal colleges an organizational development model constructed by Eric G. Flamholtz. The model identifies key developmental tasks associated with four stages of organizational growth: (1) new venture; (2) expansion; (3) professionalizing; and (4) consolidation. The analysis considers parallels between the tribal colleges' tasks and the libraries' tasks. Application of the development model suggests a set of hypotheses that frame the role of the library in meeting the institutional goals and objectives of the colleges. The library-related hypotheses consider the three unique tribal college goals: (1) preserving tribal culture; (2) enhancing community economic opportunity; and (3) improving health care. The next phase of this investigation will consist of extensive data gathering from the twenty-four tribal colleges to test the hypotheses identified in this paper and to generate additional hypotheses and research in the area of tribal college libraries.
The tribal library is a community center that serves the unique information needs of a Native American community. A tribal library can be a kind of public library for the community, an education and literacy center, as well as an archive that records and preserves the heritage of a tribe. However, tribal libraries typically struggle with inadequate and unstable funding, and in California are often denied the benefits of resource-sharing agreements within library networks. Tribal library collection development also presents special challenges in terms of identifying, locating and acquiring the materials most needed. This paper provides guidelines for selection of materials, suggestions for sources of Native American materials with an emphasis on California Indians, as well as selected titles for California tribal libraries.