According to Holy Annis, the main focus of the center is on what part the cultural values play in the tribal libraries and how the library interacts with the information keepers, wisdom keepers, or oral librarians in the community. She also pointed out that tribal libraries are usually adjacent to or in the midst of other social service agencies. Funding sources for libraries often come from grants and gaming operations. The key granting agency for tribal libraries is the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Technology was also discussed during the interview. Although her center has technology, most of the tribal libraries have limited Internet access (H. Annis, personal communication, May 26, 2009).
In rural areas, only about 9% of Native Americans have Internet access at home. "Native Americans are more likely to access the Internet at schools and libraries than any other ethnic or racial group" (Patterson, 1995). The library may offer an interface in the technology gap that exists. One of the most significant developments in tribal libraries in the 1990s has been the expansion of tribal colleges. They are located mostly in the western part of the country and receive direct funding from the U.S. Due to concerns about accreditation, these libraries also function as public libraries for the reservations where they are located. "They tend to have better educated library personnel with a small number having M.L.S. degrees from ALA-accredited library schools and others working to obtain them" (Patterson, 1995). Tribal colleges may be the most important movement that has been seen in Indian country today. In certain ways, they are the only transitional institutions standing between the reservation population and the larger society that can bring services and information to Indian people. On the twenty-seven reservations where these colleges are located, libraries are a paradigm for educational and cultural survival for both the college and tribal communities (Patterson, 1995).
The Native Media Center is the center of the school community. It provides the students with the resources that they need in order to succeed in their educational endeavors. The library plays a big role in leading educational innovations. Because of this it is very important for the library media specialist to stay on top of what is currently going on in the technology world. Technology seems to be the one area in which the Native Media Center is lacking. According to Ms. Annis, they are always trying to find resources in order to update the technology interfaces that they have and improve the services that they offer. Along with improving technology services they would also like to add to their book collections and services that they offer. The process that they use to decide what to carry in their collections includes acquiring titles with regional connections, collection relevance, along with patron suggestions (H. Annis, personal communication, May 26, 2009).
The recruitment of native people into librarianship and the continuing development of libraries on reservations is an ongoing challenge. It will require cooperation among those in the profession-both native and non-native. Participation in this effort presents an opportunity to make the next century better for library services to native people (Patterson, 1995). Making library services available to Native Americans is so very important in preserving the long history that that group of people has had. It is not only important to preserve their history but to propagate it as well. Having libraries that have extensive Native American collections will allow everyone to learn about the rich, traditional history this group of people have had in our country.
The Native American communities should be afforded the same media services and technology opportunities that everyone else has. In order for this to take place the appropriate resources must be made available for those communities that are both on and off reservations. Only good things can come from providing media and technology services to the Native American communities around the country.
Hebert, Beck. (2002). The Role of Libraries in Native American Communities. Retrieved May
30, 2009, from Web site: http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-0411102-
Patterson, Lotsee. (n.d.). History and Status of Native Americans in Librarianship. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from Web site: