When: Thursday, Jan 31 | 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Location: MTCC 202AC

Days: Thursday. Event Types: Session. Sectors: Indigenous. Subjects: Collections and Indigenous.


As institutional foundations are being shaken on our path toward reconciliation in Canada so too does our terminology and classification of knowledge need to reflect these integral changes to the way that knowledge is perceived and accessed. The science of classification has traditionally defined what a culture values as knowledge and Indigenous people are reasserting their ownership of their traditional and living knowledge; therefore, libraries, archives and cultural memory institutions need to work with communities to respectfully and properly describe and provide access to Indigenous materials under protocols appropriate to the materials and to the Indigenous community.

It is with this in mind that the Indigenous Materials Classification Schema (IMCS) was founded with the goal of reflecting indigenous worldview and values in knowledge organization and developed as a generic, adaptable and open source classification schema. The IMCS reflects best practices in organizing Indigenous knowledge and to more appropriately meet the needs of those seeking information on Indigenous (First Nations, Metis and Inuit) people.

The IMCS is based on the framework of the Brian Deer Classification system first developed by Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) librarian, Brian Deer, in the 1970s. This classification system was further adapted by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) first in the 1980s then more recently in 2014 and by Gene Joseph at Xwi7xwa Library in the 1990s. The IMCS further was adapted and further developed by Camille Callison (Tahltan Nation), Alissa Cherry and Keshav Mukunda based on the UBCIC 2014 model to reflect a more national perspective.

The IMCS was first implemented at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) Reference Library in 2015 and material was catalogued using both the Library of Congress and IMCS classifications in the University of Manitoba Library system. In 2017, Camille collaboration with the National Film Board (NFB) Senior Librarian Katherine Kasirer to adapt the IMSC for the NFB Indigenous Cinema digital collection with multiple subject access points to assist users in locating films using an Indigenous worldview.

Currently there is a SSHRC project underway building on the work done at NFB that we believe will revolutionize and indigenize the film industry’s descriptions of Indigenous films. The classification of knowledge using an Indigenous worldview and the use of appropriate and respectful descriptors will help to dispel even further the stereotypical notions of Indigenous people through more accurate portrayal and descriptions of Indigenous people in diverse forms of media.

The goal of the session is to demonstrate to library professionals several instances of decolonizing subject access in an online environment to serve Indigenous information seekers and others. By sharing the experience at the NFB and other adaptations, the attendees will learn how critical it is to describe content using IMCS, for terminology, world view and accuracy. Attendees will also rethink the use of Western systems of classification to manage Indigenous Knowledge Collections and be in a position to re-evaluate classification schemes used in their libraries.

Learning objectives: • Understanding the characteristics of an Indigenous Knowledge Collection • Understanding the necessity of using Indigenous Classification Schemes vs Eurocentric systems of Classification for an Indigenous Knowledge Collection. • How a Classification scheme developed for physical library can be adapted to a free streaming video collection and online environment.