Decolonizing the Library: What we're doing


Special Collections and Rare Books (SCRB) is increasing its holdings in the area of Canadian Indigenous content. Recent acquisitions include the Hartmut Lutz Collection of Indigenous Literature acquired in collaboration with SFU Indigenous Studies, the IMAGeNation fonds, and records relating to the production of the film Indian Horse, created by screenwriter Dennis Foon.

Finding materials

The systems that libraries use to catalogue and classify items (SFU uses the Library of Congress Classification Scheme) use problematic terms to describe Indigenous peoples, specifically the word "Indian" (i.e. "Indians of North America"). The Resource Acquisition, Management, and Metadata (RAMM) division has added "Indigenous Peoples" to record metadata, and is working on adding subject headings to better reflect Indigenous communities and nations. There is a long term goal of removing all offensive and outdated terminology within record description and classification.

Library spaces

The Learning and Instruction division booked a study room on the 2nd floor for students from the Indigenous Student Centre. 

The Student Learning Commons offers weekly drop-in writing consultations at the Indigenous Student Centre. The SLC also offers learning and writing workshops in the ISC.

In response to the ARC report Call to Action numbers 12 and 21, the Library submitted a proposal to "create an Indigenous Curriculum Resource Centre comprised of both a physical collection of resources to lend, and an online resource guide that will aggregate two kinds of digital resources—first guides for instructors about Indigenizing curriculum, and secondly, a selection of resources appropriate for use as course texts, readings, etc. in a sample of subject areas." Funding was received from the Aboriginal Strategic Initiative (see "Staffing Initiatives") and Capital Planning Steering.

Staffing initiatives

The Library received funding from the Aboriginal Strategic Initiative fund to hire a librarian for a one year term to create an Indigenous Curriculum Resource Centre. This collection will be catalogued using a modified version of the Brian Deer Classification System. This initiative is in response to Call to Action numbers 12 and 21 of the SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Committee's report, Walk This Path With Us.

Teaching and learning (Library staff)

Staff formed a "Decolonizing Instruction" reading group to learn about opportunities to Decolonize and Indigenous our teaching materials, and discuss current practices together. In the fall of 2019, this reading group transformed into a more comprehensive Decolonizing the Library Interest Group, which is open to participation from all Library staff. The Interest Group has written a letter in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en.

The Library hosted the Sorting Libraries Out symposium (March 2019) at Harbour Centre, in collaboration with UBC, UofA, and COPPUL. This event continued conversations within the library profession from two previous events (Making Meaning in Edmonton, February 2018, and In Our Own Words in Toronto, June 2018). The purpose of each event was to engage with ideas on how to better represent Indigenous knowledge, worldviews, and cultures within library practices. Presentations are available for viewing.

A variety of staff training is offered, in an ongoing basis.

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