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International Indigenous Librarians’ Forum
International Indigenous Librarians’ Forum was held in Hawaiʻi for the first time.

The International Indigenous Librarians’ Forum (IILF) was held in Hawaiʻi for the first time, November 27–30. Founded in 1999 and held every two years, the forum serves as a coming-together of Indigenous information practitioners and knowledge keepers from Native nations around the world to discuss goals, challenges, projects and successes that are important to Native peoples, cultural resources and the repositories that house them.

Because of COVID-19, the forum had been on hiatus since 2021. Hawaiʻi stepped up to host and drew the most attendees in the event’s history. Around 200 delegates, from Aotearoa, Australia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Canada, Norway, the United States and more, attended sessions at Waimea Valley, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Hamilton Library, Ka Papa Loʻi o Kānewai, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, and the East-West Center’s Imin Conference Center. Librarians and archivists from across the UH system and throughout the local and diaspora community served on the steering committee and its various subcommittees.

Kapena Shim and Hauʻolihiwahiwa Moniz from Hamilton Library served as IILF Hawaiʻi steering committee co-chairs.

“The Forum speaks to the amazing work of resilience and reclamation that Indigenous information practitioners and allies all over the world are forging in both big and small ways to support Indigenous communities and sovereign futures. It was a time for us to think collectively about how we are lifting up Indigenous communities and their fight/right for ea (sovereignty),” said Shim and Moniz.

Other steering committee members from UH and the community included:

Carina Chernisky (UH West Oʻahu)
Keahiahi Long (UH Mānoa)
Annie Thomas (Kapiʻolani CC)
Hōkū Kaʻahaʻaina (ʻUluʻulu, UH West Oʻahu)
Shavonn Matsuda (UH Maui College)
Kawena Komeiji (UH West Oʻahu, former committee member)
Hinano Tangaro (Kawaihaʻo Church Archives)
Puamokihana Renti Cruz (Hawaiʻi Kai Public Library)

Delegates attended breakout sessions that were hosted by their peers to learn more about Indigenous knowledge initiatives being implemented in their respective countries and communities. Although the forum welcomed non-Indigenous people to attend, all planning and presentations were Indigenous led.

The forum theme was EA: Indigenous Agency and Abundance, which challenged delegates to think about how Indigenous information professionals breathe life into their institutions to advance Indigenous independence and sovereignty in their communities. Attendees heard from keynote speakers such as Pua Case, UH Maui College Vice Chancellor Kahele Dukelow, and a panel of Kanaka (Native Hawaiian) librarians (Kylie Flood, Ikaika Keliiiki, Komeiji and Long), all of whom are graduates of the UH Mānoa library and information science program.

With a $75,000 grant from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, IILF Hawaiʻi was able to increase attendance, refund presenters their registration fees, pay the way for several Maui information professionals to attend, and hire a casual-hire part-time Indigenous initiatives librarian for Hamilton Library who will lead a white paper on the state of Indigenous librarianship to be published in fall 2024.

The proceedings from the forum will be published in spring 2024.

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