On Monday, June 25, Danielle Cooper will discuss the methodology of the Research Support Services project on Indigenous Studies at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. Her talk is part of the Library Research Roundtable Chair’s Program, which runs from 10-11:00 am.

For more information about the conference and to register, please see the ALA website.

Paper abstract:

Library practices that are inclusive to Indigenous communities are grounded in the recognition that Indigenous cultures feature unique experiences and knowledges. This work cannot be fully supported without a commitment to decolonizing academic libraries, including the research that informs professional approaches to library practice. Indigenous studies scholars utilize methodologies that challenge Western conceptualizations of “knowledge” and “research,” which necessitate library services and tools that diverge from Western models of research support, including those provided by libraries. In recognition of this, 35 librarians at 12 academic libraries are conducting a collaborative qualitative study on supporting Indigenous Studies scholars utilizing Indigenous methodologies with a not-for-profit organization that specializes in conducting applied research in library settings. Each library is engaging in interviews and ongoing dialogue with Indigenous Studies scholars at their own institution about their research practices and support needs culminating in local reports and a capstone report from the not-for-profit.

This paper explores the project’s methodology with the goal of sharing how Indigenous approaches to library research can be developed in support of decolonizing academic library practice. Effective engagement with Indigenous studies is a multi-layered and holistic process, necessitating research approaches that are attuned to connectivity and cooperation. The paper discusses this research process in detail including: working with Indigenous scholars and librarians to advise on all aspects of the project, building ongoing relationships with participants throughout and beyond the formal research engagement, developing data collection and analysis methods that are reflective of and responsive to Indigenous epistemologies, and identifying next steps arising from the research that are beneficial to Indigenous communities. By placing Indigenous Studies in dialogue with library research, the project demonstrates how libraries can begin to rectify historic and ongoing practices of colonization by fostering Indigenous approaches to working with information.