Decolonizing the Library

The library is committed to making its systems, spaces, and services more just, equitable, and inclusive. Colonialism can be both obvious and subtle, and can be maintained and spread through library information structures, research practices, and collections.

Decolonization at the library is an ongoing process that involves acknowledging, questioning, and undoing colonial practices. We understand that decolonization needs to be in nature as it impacts individuals and communities differently in complex and layered ways – this includes ethnicity, sex, gender, class, ability, religion, and many other aspects.

A graphic representation of the roof of Na'tsa'maht

To implement our decolonization work, the library is guided by Camosun’s 2023-2028 Strategic Plan and the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s . The list below provides information about – and links to – many of the Library’s decolonization initiatives.

Decolonizing the collection

  • by faculty librarians. The collection enhances equity by including materials that address colonization, economic and social disparity, and injustices against equity deserving groups; the collection affirms and celebrates diversity, each individual's unique and varied histories, experiences, and ways of being, knowing, doing and relation; and fosters inclusion and belonging where all experiences, perspectives, and identities are recognized and respected.

    If you have suggestions for resources that are not yet part of our collection, please let us know by or emailing your ideas to library@camosun.ca.

  • . Libraries, including the Camosun library, use shared catalogue records (full descriptions of individual books). Descriptive subject terms in these records come from ‘controlled vocabularies’, specific and predetermined lists which help make information more easily discoverable. Unfortunately, these lists, created and maintained by international organizations, include outdated and offensive terminology rooted in colonial practice. Changes to these official lists are happening, but change at this scale takes time to implement.

  • Library staff and faculty librarians committed to describing Indigenous-focused material in more accurate and respectful ways. Specifically, we are:

    • Removing or reducing harmful subject headings in library catalogue records.

      • if removing subject headings is not feasible due to shared holdings, more respectful terms will be added

    • Enhancing shared bibliographic records to highlight Indigenous content by:

      • adding detailed contents notes

      • including names of all contributors

      • adding subject headings and names for BC First Nations from Indigenous authorities such as the First Nations House of Learning (FNHL) and X̱wi7x̱wa Library at UBC

      • following Gregory Younging's,, whenever possible (e.g., ensuring Indigenous is capitalized in library records)

    • Advocating for changes to vendor metadata and search tools to update terminology.

    • Engaging with the college community and members of local Indigenous communities in a respectful manner and inviting them to be part of the decision-making process wherever possible.

    • Following developments with the towards creating a framework for .

Decolonizing research practices

  • The provides in-depth information about indigenizing research practices, including:
    • Indigenous academic integrity
    • information on Indigenous style elements (including capitalization and Indigenous names)
    • indigenizing Chicago, APA, and MLA citation styles
    • the politics of citing and naming
    • Camosun Library's Authentic Indigenous Voices icon
    • what to do when you are unsure
  • Indigenizing Citations guides for , , and citation styles. Developed in consultation with local Elders, Indigenous educators, and ally educators, these guides have been created to respect and reflect local practices, and may change over time as consultation continues.
  • The “” icon is a visual signifier for people seeking Indigenous authored/created content from the Camosun Library. The icon is a starting point for readers to identify the creators of resources featured in Camosun research guides and may assist with the indigenization of course curricula, research, and other scholarly activities.
  • Authentic Indigenous Voices (AIV) designation is being integrated into library catalogue records for physical books. Resources that are labelled AIV will be searchable using the keywords "Authentic Indigenous Voices." Visit the “” page for step-by-step instructions.

    We need your help!If you know of a resource created by an Indigenous author that is part of the library collection or featured on a guide, and that is not already discoverable in the library catalogue or flagged with an AIV icon, please let us know by emailing lanningr@camosun.ca. Please include a link to information or a few sentences about the author in your recommendation.

Decolonizing library spaces

  • The Indigenous Students Study Room is a dedicated room for Indigenous Students located in the Lansdowne campus library, room 213. The study space provides a culturally appropriate place for Indigenous students to study. Students who are First Nations, Inuit, or Métis (Non-Status included) are welcome to this space during the library’s regular open hours.
  • The library promotes awareness and accountability through educational resources and activities related to various events and initiatives. These include Orange Shirt Day, the 16 Days of Action Against Gender-Based Violence, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
  • Originating in 2019, the library-initiated Going with the Flow menstrual equity initiative provides free menstrual products (pads and tampons) to students across 91AV. Going with the Flow recognises the relationship between poverty and the lack of access to menstrual products: period poverty disproportionately impacts Indigenous peoples, racialized communities, immigrants, single mothers, people experiencing homelessness, gender diverse people, people living with disabilities, and youth. Supported by Camosun Student Affairs in 2022, the popular initiative is now managed by Camosun Facilities.
  • Artworks by Indigenous artists that are part of the 91AV Art Collection are featured at the Lansdowne library and as part of the . Works include:
    • Jane Ash Poitras (Cree), , location: first floor study area
    • David Neel | Tlat’lala’wis’ (Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw), , location: Lansdowne Library first floor study area
    • David Neel | Tlat’lala’wis’ (Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw), , location: Lansdowne Library first floor study area
    • Bill Reid (Haida), , location: Lansdowne Library first floor Services Desk
    • Art Thompson | Tsa Qwa Supp (Ditidaht band, Nuu-chah-nulth), , location: Lansdowne Library second floor study area
    • Art Thompson | Tsa Qwa Supp (Ditidaht band, Nuu-chah-nulth), , location: Lansdowne Library second floor study area
    • Art Thompson | Tsa Qwa Supp (Ditidaht band, Nuu-chah-nulth), , location: Ewing Building 234 hallway
  • The is installed on computers in the student commons areas at the Library’s Interurban and Lansdowne locations. The font empowers students to better represent Indigenous languages with respect and accuracy.

Research guides

This research guide presents a curated selection of key print and electronic books related to Indigenous Knowledge held at the Camosun Library. Works are organized by discipline and theme (though many are cross- or interdisciplinary) and focus on Indigenous Knowledge from local, national, and international contexts. For instructors seeking to indigenize their curriculum, these resources represent a starting point for investigating various forms of knowledge from the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples and their colleagues.

The Indigenous Studies guide is curated for IST students, however contains resources appropriate for all. If you are seeking information on Reconciliation, Canadian Residential Schools, or the 60s scoop (and related ongoing practices), visit the “Residential Schools” and “Sixties Scoop” pages of this guide.

September 30th is Orange Shirt Day, and since 2021, has been recognized in Canada as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The Orange Shirt Day guide provides resources related to Phyllis Webstad's (Northern Secwépemc, Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation) personal story of survival from the St. Joseph Mission Residential School in William's Lake, Canada's Indian residential school system, and Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.

This guide presents a selection of resources in support of all members of the Camosun community in their work to make actionable change to dismantle racism and work towards anti-oppression and social justice. There is Indigenous content on all of the pages, but the "Decolonization & reconciliation," "In the classroom & beyond" and "Anti-ableism" pages may be of particular interest.

Part of the greater "Music" guide, this page provides a diverse array of resources related to Indigenous music including a list of Indigenous musicians organized by genre (a wide variety of fantastic artists!).

June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day and is held in celebration and recognition of the diverse and distinct cultures, heritage, and achievements of Indigenous Peoples – First Nations, Inuit, and Métis – in Canada. This guide presents a sampling of resources that has been created in celebration of the Indigenous authors and topics featured in our library collection.

The Indigenous Literature Guide has been developed for students enrolled in ENGL 164. The guide provides an array of resources related to Indigenous authors and their works.

This guide supports students taking HLTH 111: Indigenous People's Health and those interested in Indigenous health topics. It contains information and links to resources related to Indigenous health including article databases, e-books, media, websites, citation help and more.


Do you have questions or suggestions about decolonizing initiatives at the library? Please contact librarian Robbyn Lanning.

If you would like to learn more about decolonizing the catalogue, our cataloguing practices, or to provide feedback on specific records, please contact librarian Gwenda Bryan.