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Emerging Trends in Native American Tribal Libraries

Advances in Librarianship

ISBN: 978-0-85724-755-1, eISBN: 978-0-85724-756-8

ISSN: 0065-2830

Publication date: 25 February 2011


San Diego County (California, USA) contains 18 Indian reservations—more than any other county in the United States. Citizens of these reservations, each recognized as a sovereign nation, have information needs that are highly sophisticated. Coming from a civilization that preserved history through oral tradition, they have only recently made the transition to writing things down and collecting books into buildings. In spite of many tragic events that drastically reduced their population, San Diego County's Indians have retained much of their heritage through efforts of tribal elders and non-Indian historians. With federal and local assistance, tribal libraries were constructed on about half of San Diego County's reservations during the 1980s. Over the next few years, reduction of grant funds adversely affected them, resulting in some closures. Thanks to creative efforts made by many individuals at a local university, the state library, professional associations, and most of all by the Indians themselves, a number of San Diego County's tribal libraries are growing and taking on new shapes. Five local tribal librarians were surveyed twice over a 12-month period regarding their respective libraries. Analysis yielded four key factors for success: (1) the presence of a designated librarian; (2) support from the tribal government; (3) plans and a vision for the future; and (4) partnerships and connections with other entities. The research suggests that these factors are applicable toward ensuring success for small, geographically and culturally isolated libraries in any context.


Newbold, E. (2011), "Emerging Trends in Native American Tribal Libraries", Woodsworth, A. (Ed.) Advances in Librarianship (Advances in Librarianship, Vol. 33), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 75-103.



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