International Indigenous Librarian’s Forum

Last week, Tania Schafer and I were lucky enough to travel to Sydney and take part in the 10th International Indigenous Librarian’s Forum (IILF) as representatives of SLQ.
It was held at State Library of New South Wales and the theme of the Forum was “Knowledge connections, survival and activism”. They had a wonderful line-up of key note speakers including Bruce Pascoe, Craig Richie and Terri Jenke along with presentations and workshops by First Nations librarians and library representatives from across the world. We also had a beautiful dinner at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) in Redfern where we had Aboriginal dancers and bush tukka inspired foods.

IILF’s vision statement, written in 1999, states “We, as unified indigenous peoples who work with libraries and information, will ensure the appropriate care, development and management of the indigenous knowledge of generations past, present, and future.” 

The event is always culturally rich and the history of the IILF forum is indicative of the diversity of Indigenous peoples represented. Previous host cities include New Zealand (1999 & 2009), Sweden (2001), United States (2003 & 2013), Canada (2005 & 2015), Australia (2007 & 2017), Norway (2011). A unique keepsake of the conference is the New Zealand Mauri stone. The passing of the stone was looked after by each host city and cultural items would join the journey; like the Sami people added a birch container, American First Nations gifted a beaded handle and Australia added decorated possum skin pelts. It is a beautiful collection. 

I remember when IILF was held at the State Library of Queensland in 2007 and it was really lovely to recognise some familiar faces who have been attending the forum ever since.

It was a great reminder of our cultural responsibility to work in partnership with community to appropriately acknowledge, interpret and preserve our stories and grow our collection so that we have an adequate representation of the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reflected in Queensland’s documented history.