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YES! Magazine: Indigenous library offers safe space and a learning experience

March 25, 2019
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Featuring Dr. Amy Parent, SFU Education

For more than a century, the Dewey Decimal Classification system has dictated the way libraries organize their collections. And the way they organize and sort information says a lot about what kind of information is prioritized—and what’s left out.

Books on Indigenous communities often get looped into the history section. As a result, information on Native peoples literally gets left in the past.

X̱wi7x̱wa Library (pronounced whei-wha) at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, is working to change that. The library aims to counter Western, colonial bias and better reflect the knowledge of Indigenous peoples. By offering an alternative to the widely used Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classification systems, this library aims to take steps toward decolonizing the way information is sorted, cataloged, and shared.

Amy Parent, a 2014 graduate of UBC and member of the Nisga'a Nation, used X̱wi7x̱wa to conduct research as a graduate student studying Indigenous education. But it was the librarians’ efforts to reach out and get to know their library’s visitors that stood out to Parent.

“They are very much aligned with the way we form relationships with our communities,” Parent said. Parent said the librarians at X̱wi7x̱wa get to know visitors on a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual level.

Visit IndianZ to read the remainder of the article