December 1, 2021

The Importance of Indigenous Librarianship: Q&A with Knowledge River Alumnus Alex Soto

From the University of Arizona:

This fall, Alex Soto, who received his master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Arizona’s Knowledge River Program in 2020, was appointed director of Arizona State University Library’s Labriola National American Indian Data Center.

The Knowledge River, or KR, Program – which is housed in the School of Information in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences – has been training library and information professionals committed to the information needs of underrepresented groups for 20 years.

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From the Interview:

Q. Why is it important to have library professionals who are trained in and are committed to the information needs of Native American communities?

Soto: It’s important to see a familiar face and speak with someone who understands your research needs. I’ve had the experience when you’re talking to a non-Native librarian and you have to educate them on Indigenous-based topics and decolonization.

That’s why it’s important to have BIPOC librarianship because each letter of that acronyms has different experiences, different points of entry that the majority doesn’t understand. For example, Indigenous archival materials may need to be restricted due to a tribe’s traditional protocols or repatriated to the tribe all together. In my experience, non-Indigenous librarians and archivists do not fully understand why this is important for tribal communities and lifeways. This lack of understanding has historically plagued the library and archival profession. I’ve met Native folks who don’t want to use a library because of these reasons, and/or they think it’s a white institution that only supports white western knowledge, which inherently it is. But despite the systematic racism, I like to show that Indigenous voices, Indigenous history, Indigenous knowledge, and Indigenous data can be properly stewarded through Indigenous leadership.

Read the Complete Interview

See Also: Arizona State University Library: Alex Soto Named Director of Labriola National American Indian Data Center (via ASU Library; August 27, 2021)

See Also: Alex Soto Bio and Contact Info (via ASU)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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