A BRIEF HISTORY OF TRIBAL LIBRARIES
The first tribal library known to exist was created by the Colorado River Tribal Council in Arizona in 1958 with additional libraries being created in the Southwest, New York State and Idaho during the 1960s. Since that time, more and more tribes have created their own libraries; however there has never been any research performed to accurately assess the number of tribal libraries currently in existence.
In addition to tribal libraries, there have been other developments that have aided in the creation and development of tribal libraries. In 1979, the American Indian Library Association (AILA) was founded. The AILA is one of four ethnic organizations affiliated with the American Library Association and its purpose is to support and improve tribal libraries, as well as to educate all librarians and information professionals about tribal libraries.
The US government has also passed acts and initiatives that have assisted tribal libraries in the past three decades. First, the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act was passed in 1975. This gave tribal communities a greater ability to manage their own educational systems and to participate in determining the overall education of Native Americans.
In 1984, the Library Services for Indian Tribes and Hawaiian Natives Program was added as Title IV to the Library Services and Construction Act. This program provides grant monies and other federal assistance to tribal libraries, and is considered to be the “single most important event in the development of libraries on reservations.” (Patterson)
In 1994, the Tribal Self-Governance Act was passed by Congress. This act enabled tribes to further manage their own affairs and, since libraries are of high importance to many tribes, has helped in the development and improvement of tribal libraries.
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