Proposed tribal college cataloging systems: From isolation to association

George Gregory Chester
College of Education, University of Minnesota
July, 2006


This paper, Proposed Tribal College Cataloging Systems: From Isolation to Association, seeks to determine whether current tribal college cataloging and shelving systems are compatible with the Indigenous patrons and communities' cultures and needs. If there are disconnects, it will determine what approaches and systems will resolve those disconnects and be more compatible with the Indigenous cultures and serve their needs. The philosophical roots of Western knowledge organization and cataloging systems currently used in most Indigenous libraries are examined to determine if their Western philosophical roots are congruent with the worldview and knowledge organization systems of Indigenous patrons. The foundations of Indigenous knowledge organization and cataloging systems are examined, and the Western and Indigenous systems currently being used in libraries in the United States, Canada, and globally are compared. These systems include the Library of Congress, Dewey Decimal, Colon, Brian Deer, and Leech Lake Tribal College Classification systems. This paper compares the isolationist Western approach with the associative Indigenous approach with a focus on the Ojibwe or Anishinaabe college libraries. Following this research and analysis, the paper develops a series of systems that incorporates those elements and qualities that are most compatible with the cultures and needs of Indigenous patrons and communities.