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California State Library training and resources at work in tribal libraries

“Hands-On” at Pala

In spring 2006 the California State Library sponsored its second Tribal Library Training at the Pala Indian Reservation in northern San Diego County. Infopeople Project Director Holly Hinman and Infopeople staff, using information needs identified during the June 2005 Tribal Library Boot Camp, organized an impressive agenda for the spring training.

CSL Library Programs Consultant Susan Hanks with Tribal Library Scholar 
Bonnie Biggs (far right) at Pala.
[Photo courtesy Infopeople]

The spring Tribal Library Training at Pala offered Infopeople workshops, an on-line reference course, and networking opportunities to 20 Tribal Information professionals who all said they would take the training information back to their communities and share it with their colleagues.

Tribal Information professional Jennifer Ward of the Barona Tribal Community Library said of the spring event:

I found the Pala training very valuable…the hands-on at Pala was great…it allows all of us to get together and talk about our experiences on what works in our libraries.  From the course I have learned some new tips and tricks for Internet searches and reliable websites, medical information (of which I knew nothing), and the use of more reference materials (like the biographical dictionary) just to name a few. 

The information resource experts who led the spring training included Holly Tomren, formerly of the Huntington Park Library’s American Indian Resource Center, (County of Los Angeles Public Library); Bette Anton from the University of California, Berkeley, Optometry/Health Sciences Library; staff from the California State Library and California State University, San Marcos; Infopeople staff; and Kay Deeney and Heidi Sandstrom from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Regional Office.

Bonnie Biggs, former president of the American Indian Library Association and current Professor Emeritus and Tribal Liaison at California State University at San Marcos, was also on board for the training. Biggs has devoted more than 20 years to working with Southern California Tribal Libraries. Biggs’ work is the cornerstone of Tribal Library training that the California State Library sponsors.

“Information Services for Tribal Communities”

Holly Tomren led “Information Services for Tribal Communities,” a one-day workshop that enables information professionals working in tribal communities to increase their reference skills. The workshop covered general reference training topics such as “What is Reference?” “The Reference Interview,” and “Open and Closed Questions.” Tomren’s class also received an orientation for the CORE Online Reference course.

Tribal Library Information professionals at work at Pala.
oto courtesy Infopeople]

Tomren worked closely with Native American Librarians and Information Services providers to research and assemble print reference collections for each participant. Her collection contained many standard reference books covering issues from medications to careers, but also included a number of impressive Native American resources including Indian and tribal law, resources to assist in the selection of culturally sensitive children’s books, tribal histories both past and current, Native American quotations, Native American genealogical resources and United States Indian policy. Tomren gave the participants annotated bibliographies along with a quick orientation for each reference book including unique information and best use.

During the afternoon session of “Information Services for Tribal Communities,” everyone was introduced to an on-line reference course in the computer lab at the Tribal Digital Village of Southern California (TDV). TDV connects tribes from rural areas that previously had limited or no access to cable, phone and/or power lines, from the Mexico border to the edge of Riverside County. The TDV is part of a three-year Hewlett Packard grant awarded in 2001 to the Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association to establish the high-speed, inter-tribal wireless and Internet-accessible wide area network to connect 18 tribes and other community agencies. TDV provides high-speed Internet access to over 150 square miles, encompassing high desert, forests, and valleys.

Students had weekly reading assignments and exercises including ready reference, reference materials, evaluating resources, library organization and cataloging. The ability to post messages provided a great chance to network. Self-paced modules on business, genealogy, consumer information, and legal information were offered at the end of the course allowing students the opportunity to further increase their reference knowledge and skills.

Consumer health resources workshop

The Pala consumer health resources workshop that followed was a big hit. Participants learned how to use Medline Plus to find reliable health information, evaluate consumer health web sites, and locate health resources for Californians. This hands-on workshop also provided an overview of the collaborative databases of the National Library of Medicine.

One participant said, "the information is easier to find than the patron thinks," and another felt that she had "learned how to evaluate web sites."

For more information about the California State Library’s Tribal Library Trainings please contact Library Programs Consultant Susan Hanks at (916) 653-0661 or email at






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