The library adopts state-of-the-art indigenous protocols

To lead the development of the new protocols, the University of Sydney Library has appointed Wiradjuri Librarian and Museum Educator Nathan Mudyi Sentance as Cultural Advisor-in-Residence. Sentance, who is in charge of the First Nations collections at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, has loved libraries since childhood, but nevertheless experienced “a sense of colonialism” inside these institutions.

“There are factors at play that can give you an idea of ​​’Am I supposed to be here?'” he said. “The lack of First Nations perspectives makes you feel like the default library user is a non-Indigenous Australian of Anglo-Saxon descent.

“I’m particularly interested in how we engage with our historical collections – this tension between the understanding that outdated and offensive material can be harmful, but also potentially useful. We don’t want it to be shut down, but we want make users aware of the context in which it was created.”

Close collaboration between the library and First Nations communities will shape the implementation of the protocols, with plans to appoint an Indigenous engagement officer and convene an advisory group to facilitate consultation with Aboriginal and Strait Islander stakeholders. Torres. The library also aims to increase the proportion of First Nations staff to be closer to the general Australian population.

The next step is to begin studying the library’s collection – which alone has some three million printed items – to better understand the scope of First Nations cultural material and identify secret and sacred material.

“Our collections are large, so implementation is going to be a multi-year effort,” said Dr Antonia Mocattadirector of central library services.

“We have covered all aspects of the work of academic libraries, across services, collections, acquisitions and maintenance, and how we engage with First Nations patrons. In terms of scale and scope, this work is unprecedented in the academic library sector in Australia.”


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