2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages: Ideas for Public Libraries

Public libraries and communities can work together to develop and implement plans and activities to support the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages (IY2019).

Connect with Elders, community members and organisations to find out more about the traditional and contemporary languages in the community.

2019 Year of Indigenous languages logo

International Year of Indigenous Languages logo [UN website].

The following questions may serve as a guide/starting point:

  • What is the traditional language of the area?
  • Which other language groups are represented in your community?
  • Are there language speakers in your community?
  • Are there traditional words still used in/by the local community?
  • How can public libraries support local community efforts to bring languages to life?
  • Does the community support language being brought into the library space?

Ideas for Public Libraries

This is a short selection of ideas and activities for public libraries to use in IY2019; work with your community to bring language to life!

  • Welcome / Welcome to Country in language at your library.
  • ‘Word of the Week’ – during IY2019, there will be a language word of the week from the IKCs, Indigenous Language Centres and others. These can be shared across the library space, community and social media #IY2019 #IYIL #2019IYIL #SLQIndigenousLanguages
  • Language Circle – host informal gathering of Elders, language custodians and other community members to meet in the library space to share language. Choose a theme each month, e.g. ‘favourite language word’; ‘animals’; ‘family’, etc.
  • Language Nest – similar to a language circle but aimed at little ones; informal gathering of mums, bubs and nans to play and talk together using language. This could be used as part of a First 5 Forever program along with rhymes, songs and games in language.
  • Record/document language speakers from the local community – collect language, stories, songs, oral histories to add to your local collection.
  • Build up word lists for common/everyday things (e.g. family names, body parts, plants, animals, placenames, etc.); create a community dictionary of everyday words for the local language/s.
  • Learn greetings/farewells in the local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language(s) – use daily and have these on signs in the library and community.
  • Dual signage/labels in the library and community – English and the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language.
  • Incorporate language activities into key events/displays, e.g. NAIDOC & Reconciliation Weeks; Mother Tongue Day; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day; etc.
  • Language Resources – make your own flash cards, chatterboxes, body charts, posters, etc. for language words.
  • Language through Art/Stories – work with community members to create your books, artwork, songs using language.
  • Host a community language event, g. festival, forum or similar event to celebrate language in your town, city or community!
  • Have a language display/language corner/language wall in your library!

Further Information

Other sources for information, resources and ideas to support you for IY2019.

  • ABC Open Mother Tongue Project
  • ACARA: Australian Curriculum Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages website
  • Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) website
  • Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA): Indigenous Matters webpages
  • Australian Government Department of Communication and the Arts
    • IY2019 website
    • Indigenous Languages and Arts Funding webpage
    • Indigenous Language Centres guide
  • First Languages Australia website
  • International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA): Briefing on International Year of Indigenous languages
  • International Mother Language Day website
  • Marrin Gamu body song website
  • Our Languages website
  • Queensland Government
    • Media Release: Queensland Government Languages Policy
    • Preserving Aboriginal Languages webpages
  • Queensland Indigenous Languages Advisory Council (QILAC) website
  • State Library of NSW: Rediscovering Indigenous Languages website
  • State Library of Queensland: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages webpages
  • United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages website
  • United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages Resources

About the Author

Desmond Crump is Indigenous Languages Coordinator, State Library of Queensland.