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Why a strategy?

Mervyn Bishop (Aboriginal photographer), Mitchell Johson (Moree Plains Shire Council) and Jennifer Blunden (Creative Producer, Exhibitions - State Library of NSW) at the Freedom Ride '65 Exhibition.

From the left side: Mervyn Bishop (Aboriginal photographer), Mitchell Johson (Moree Plains Shire Council) and Jennifer Blunden (Creative Producer, Exhibitions - State Library of NSW) at the Freedom Ride '65 Exhibition.

Public libraries have an important role in providing services and collections for the diverse communities of NSW.

NSW is home to the largest number of Indigenous peoples in Australia and there are many substantial communities of Aboriginal peoples across the state, including those living in suburban areas of Sydney and other cities, those in country towns and those in smaller, often regional and remote predominately Aboriginal communities.

Developing resources and services, libraries  help empower the community as a whole and ensure it is inclusive of every member of the community. 

It is my view that you need to look carefully at the way Aboriginal people are portrayed in libraries, and you need to reach out to Aboriginal people and show us that we are welcome to participate in an area which we were excluded from for a long time (Mick Dodson, 1993) .

In 2013 the Library developed a focus for action in relation to Indigenous services and collections, with the establishment of the Indigenous Services. Since this time, the team has been working collaboratively with the Public Library Services at the Library to provide advice on Indigenous matters in support of NSW public libraries. 

In order to improve this engagement, the Library disseminated a survey in 2015 to gather data from the network on library needs in relation to services offered to the local Indigenous population. This online survey considered activities and projects of public libraries across NSW in the two-year period 2013 – 2015. Read the 2015 Survey results on Indigenous Services.pdf

The low response rate to the survey highlighted a need for raising awareness around Indigenous services in public libraries. However, responses showed a general interest and enthusiasm for promoting library services and programs dedicated to Indigenous Australian peoples and communities. Results also highlight interest in the Library providing more assistance in developing services targeted for the Indigenous population across the state. 

To respond to this need, the strategy for public libraries, INDIGENOUS SPACES IN LIBRARY PLACES: building a vibrant public library network inclusive of Indigenous peoples and communities encourages the development of library services in this area. It is a plan that aims to generate interest and support from public libraries across NSW, to develop Indigenous services across the network.

The document was formally endorsed by the Public Libraries Consultative Committee Terms of Reference (PLCC) on  4 April 2016.