Being a Better Ally in Promoting Indigenous Librarianship – A Guide for Non-Indigenous Librarians


The need for Indigenous librarianship is acknowledged as a crucial step towards reconciliation in Canada. Decolonizing and Indigenizing our libraries is a monumental undertaking which benefits all members of the library community, not just Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous librarians must not be left to bear the burden alone. Non-Indigenous librarians and library decision-makers can support Indigenous librarianship by being better allies to their Indigenous counterparts and library patrons, but many of us do not know where to begin. This poster provides practical suggestions for non-Indigenous librarians to work with Indigenous communities and promote Indigenous librarianship in a culturally responsive and constructive way.

Allyship is a social issue that is gaining momentum in our communities and our profession. Libraries and librarians are not neutral, and they must stand up against injustices and oppression. As I learned more about decolonization, Indigenization, and reconciliation for my research paper, I recognized that as a descendant of European settlers, I need to use my privilege to be an ally for Indigenous librarians and librarianship. I was surprised and angered that none of the other classes I have taken in my MLIS degree have required me to study the Canadian Federation of Library Association’s recommendations based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s “Calls to Action.”

As partners in reconciliation, it is imperative that library professionals adopt and promote Indigenous librarianship in their own work. However, like me at the beginning of this course, perhaps they are not sure where to begin or whether they are on the right path. I used the knowledge I gathered while writing my paper and throughout this course to create a simple guide for non-Indigenous librarians who want to become better allies.

            My online resource is an infographic, intended to be an introduction to the concept of allyship for Indigenous librarianship, not an authoritative resource. I want this resource to raise awareness of the importance of Indigenous librarianship and provide some practical ways that non-Indigenous library professionals can support their Indigenous colleagues, community partners, and patrons. I hope that those who are interested in the topic will use the points in my infographic as places to begin their own process of allyship or as checkpoints if they are already on that journey.

Lindsay Johnston:

Lindsay Johnston (she/her/hers) is a second-generation European settler, residing in Treaty 6 territory in amiswaciy-wâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta). She holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Regina, a Qualification to Teach in a Foreign Language from the University of Oulu, Finland, and is currently working on her Master of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. She is a library assistant in the Children’s Department of the St. Albert Public Library and has been working in public libraries for over seven years. She is particularly interested in bringing Indigenous programming to children and supporting Indigenous librarianship by promoting Indigenous languages and Indigenizing library spaces.