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Digital engagement and the ATSILIRN protocols: indigenous Australian experiences and expertise guiding the use of social media in libraries

Kirsten Thorpe and Mylee Joseph, State Library of New South Wales


Library and archive collections include many historical and contemporary materials relating to the first people of Australia. These collections are significant resources for Indigenous Australian people in connecting with their culture and heritage. They are also vital pieces of Australia’s documentary heritage that provide an understanding of the diverse experiences, histories and culture of Indigenous Australian people since 1788 and beyond.

As libraries and archives increasingly explore social media for delivering services and connecting with communities the ATSILIRN (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library, Information and Resource Network) protocols provide insight and practical guidance for library staff. First published in 1995 by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), the ATSILIRN Protocols provide a roadmap for building culturally responsive client services when engaging with Indigenous Australian communities.

Has your Library considered use of Indigenous collections through social media? Do you know how to share information through social networks, whilst respecting cultural protocols and sensitivities? Would you like to increase access to collections relating to Indigenous people, but don't know where to start? Does your library or archive need strategies to incorporate the client needs of diverse communities?

This presentation will explore how State Library of NSW has adopted the ATSILIRN protocols in its use of social media to engage with Indigenous communities and in sharing Indigenous material with the wider community. It will provide case study examples of ways in which staff have built capacity and made informed decisions about utilising Indigenous content in social media.

The paper will aim to inspire others to deliver client services that incorporate the user needs of Indigenous Australian people and communities. The speakers will unpack some of the issues around using Indigenous collections through social media, and share experiences of the discussions that have opened up at the State Library of NSW in this area. This session will be for every library or archive who is thinking of developing services at the client edge, whilst keeping a commitment and respect for diversity.

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