By Sarah Kostelecky (firstname.lastname@example.org) | Where do you go to find information about events not being covered by the mainstream media? As a Native American from Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico and Education Librarian at the University of New Mexico, I find my social media connections to be a valuable resource to find this type of information.
I started seeing posts and photos of protest about the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in late August. I was surprised to learn the Dakota pipeline’s proposed route is only a few miles shorter than the more well-known Keystone XL pipeline but was receiving little media coverage. Some people called the lack of coverage a media blackout. I saw the conversation was larger than the pipeline itself because the issue was bringing Native people together in solidarity. I wanted to do my part to share current and relevant information about this important human rights issue that affects everyone, not just Native Americans.
While listening to an interview from the Sacred Stone Camp on the radio show Counterspin I had the idea to create a Libguide about the Dakota Access Pipeline, inspired by the Ferguson Libguide created at the University of Arizona. It would be a central place to share resources about the pipeline and provide historical context about the environmental issues faced by the Standing Rock Sioux and other Indigenous people. At the University of New Mexico 5.25% of our students and 3.3% of our faculty are Native American (eight times the national average) and I hoped to provide a resource to support our students and faculty in bringing awareness and inspiring research around the timely topic.
When organizing and adding content to the guide a conscious choice was made to focus on resources representing Native American perspectives. While there has since been more coverage and reporting about DAPL, resources written by Native people are prioritized for inclusion on the guide, as well as links to Native American news sources. It was also important to include social media sources as they continue to be the best places to find the most current information. Embedding Twitter feeds for #NoDAPL and from @SacredStoneCamp were chosen to help users connect directly to the conversation surrounding the issue and find sources not easily found through the usual Google search. With two of my library colleagues, who are also Native American, we update the guide as we find more resources or as they are suggested to us.
For Native American people a guiding principle is to give back to your community and other Native American people. This concept is one that I carry each day and guides me personally and professionally. Creating the Libguide was my way to give back to the campus Indigenous community as a Native American librarian.
Additionally, the guide is a tool for outreach as includes library resources so it serves as an entry point for students who may not be aware of our sizeable collections on Native American history, culture and activism.
Since the publication of the Dakota Access Pipeline Libguide, the response has been positive, receiving over 1100 views as of October 4, the second most viewed Libguide since the fall semester began. The guide was shared on Twitter by Springshare and the guide will be used in UNM’s Introduction to Information Studies fall course taught by three librarians.
Creating this guide provided an opportunity to connect to underserved library patrons by emphasizing a current event and sharing relevant information that was not readily available. The guide is an example of one way librarians can support other underserved communities by recognizing issues affecting them and providing space for those unheard voices to be acknowledged.
Elahkwa (thank you).
Find The Dakota Access Pipeline: Native American Perspectives here:
Sarah Kostelecky is Education Librarian at the University of New Mexico.