Kirsten Thorpe (Worimi, Port Stephens NSW) has led the development of protocols, policies, and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in libraries and archives in Australia. Kirsten’s research interests relate to Indigenous self-determination in libraries and archives. She has been involved in numerous projects that have involved the return of historic collections to Indigenous peoples and communities, and advocates for a transformation of practice to center Indigenous priorities and voice in regard to the management of data, records, and collections.
Kirsten joined the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research in 2018 to continue research and engagement in relation to Indigenous protocols and decolonising practices in the library and archive field. Kirsten is an advocate for the ‘right of reply’ to records, as well as capacity building and support for the development of local Indigenous digital keeping places.
Kirsten was previously the Manager, Indigenous Services at the State Library of NSW where she led the development of strategies supporting state-wide information services for Indigenous people. This included support for Indigenous priorities and cultural competency across NSW Public Libraries, the launch of the Library’s first Indigenous Collecting Strategy, and projects that supported the documentation, return and revitalisation of Indigenous Australian languages through archival sources.
Kirsten is a PhD candidate within the Faculty of Information Technology at Monash University where she is investigating the question of Indigenous cultural safety in Australian libraries and archives.
- Invited member International Council on Archives Expert Group on Indigenous Matters
- Professional Member of the Australian Society of Archivists
- Member Australian Library and Information Association Research Advisory Committee
- Co-Founder of the Indigenous Archives Collective
- Member Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Special Interest Group (ATSI-SIG), Australian Society of Archivists
McKemmish, S, Bone, J, Evans, J, Golding, F, Lewis, A, Rolan, G, Thorpe, K & Wilson, J 2020, 'Decolonizing recordkeeping and archival praxis in childhood out-of-home Care and indigenous archival collections', Archival Science.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The concept of cultural competency is an emerging theme and area of interest in Australian libraries and archives. As more Indigenous people enter the profession, the more we have seen a push for recognition of Indigenous ways of knowing. A culturally competent profession would enable librarians, archivists and information professionals to be more consciously aware of their own backgrounds, and the different experiences and perspectives of people who are engaging with their collections and services. An area that is still under discussed is that of Indigenous cultural safety, including consideration of the ways in which Indigenous people are either made to feel safe or unsafe in libraries and archives. This paper discusses the importance of Indigenous voice and representation in the profession, as well as the need for Indigenous people to be taking a leading role in determining priorities around access, management and use of cultural heritage materials.
Thorpe, K 2019, 'Speaking back to colonial collections: Building living Aboriginal archives', Artlink: Australian contemporary art quarterly, vol. Volume 39, no. Issue 2 (Jun 2019), pp. 42-49.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
During the late‑nineteenth and earlytwentieth centuries a significant number of amateur collectors were on a quest to record, categorise and preserve what they perceived to be the "dying races" of Aboriginal Australia. In New South Wales, collectors such as Alan Carroll (1823-1911) and Clifton Cappie Towle (1888-1946) set out to capture information on Aboriginal cultural practices and languages and to disseminate these through their networks and in published journals. Both used various kinds of methods to gather and document cultural content, be it in the form of diaries, paintings, manuscripts or photographs. This knowledge had previously been held by Aboriginal people in specific locations on Country or transmitted in fluid ways through relationships between people and informed by community protocols.
Thorpe, K 2019, 'Transformative Praxis - Building Spaces for Indigenous Self-Determination in Libraries and Archives', In the Library With the Lead Pipe, vol. 2019.
This article explores questions regarding the development and support of Indigenous priorities and self-determination in Australian libraries and archives. It calls for greater use of Indigenous research methodologies within library and archival science in order to seek ways to decolonize and simultaneously indiginze libraries and archives. As a written reflection, the article shares the perspectives of the author, who has worked in the sector for the past two decades as an Indigenous Australian archivist. The article argues that more difficult dialogue needs to to take place around contested views of history, and around the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in library and archival praxis. It suggests that transformation can only start to be imagined when we acknowledge the ongoing effects of colonization on the lives of Indigenous peoples, and examine the ways that the colonial process continues to marginalize Indigenous people. The author explores questions of Indigenous cultural safety, opportunities for increasing Indigenous voice and representation and the implementation of Indigenous Protocols to enable truth-telling and activism around Indigenous community priorities.
Thorpe, KA & Galassi, M 2018, 'Diversity, inclusion & respect: Embedding Indigenous priorities in public library services', Public Library Quarterly, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 180-194.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This article discusses the importance of diversity and inclusion in the design of public library services. Drawing on a case study from the State Library of New South Wales in Australia, the article will outline the focused action of developing an Indigenous Services Business Plan. The Plan promotes inclusion and diversity across the organization to progress Indigenous priorities as core business of the Library. By sharing information on the research and engagement process undertaken, the authors hope to provide a framework that could be utilized by other public libraries to build the inclusion of disadvantaged and diverse communities into the design of library services.
Thorpe, K, Galassi, M & Franks, R 2016, 'Discovering Indigenous Australian Culture: Building Trusted Engagement in Online Environments', Journal of Web Librarianship, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 343-363.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2016 Crown copyright. Promoting and facilitating access to historical collections for Indigenous communities has recently increased across Australia. Such activities have been integrated into the practices of archives and libraries seeking to reunite Indigenous people with materials that not only document their past but also inform their future. Challenges in accessing these materials go beyond retrieval and include concerns about their emotional content. The State Library of New South Wales is working to create trusted environments for Indigenous peoples and collections with both physical and digital spaces. Through the presentation of work undertaken at the State Library, this article explores how the digital environment can be an effective extension of the physical site in which cultural collections are held. In addition, this article looks at issues that must be addressed to ensure the success and ongoing viability of Web spaces, specifically, the long-standing power dynamics that often dominate interactions with Indigenous collections and that have displaced power from the traditional owners of Indigenous knowledge.
Nicholls, S, Booker, L, Thorpe, K, Jackson, M, Girault, C, Briggs, R & Jones, C 2016, 'From principle to practice: Community consultation regarding access to indigenous language material in archival records at the state library of New South Wales', Archives and Manuscripts, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 110-123.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2016 Australian Society of Archivists. In the context of Indigenous languages, archival science in Australia continues to move from a theoretical framework of considering record subjects as third parties to a ‘participants model’. In a participants model framework record subjects are considered co-creators and custodians of the intellectual property of the record. However, the shift from theory to practice is still an under-described challenge currently facing archival professionals. This article reports on an experience of applying guidelines developed by First Languages Australia (FLA) and National and State Libraries of Australasia (NSLA) aimed at enhancing the rights of Indigenous Australians over records that contain Indigenous language material. A team of researchers from the State Library of New South Wales (SLNSW) Indigenous Services branch and Western Sydney University engaged with four Indigenous language groups to evaluate records containing Indigenous language material held at the SLNSW. On viewing the archival records of Indigenous language material members of community groups expressed a diversity of opinions and suggestions. This feedback was grouped by the authors into the following themes: painful remembrance of the provenance of the archival record, evaluations of the value of the documents, custodianship and use of the language material, and access to the SLNSW records. The authors found that participants in the study substantially shaped the process of implementing the protocols.
Nakata, M, Hamacher, D, Warren, J, Byrne, A, Pagnucco, M, Harley, R, Venugopal, S, Thorpe, K, Neville, R & Bolt, R 2014, 'Using Modern Technologies to Capture and Share Indigenous Astronomical Knowledge', AUSTRALIAN ACADEMIC & RESEARCH LIBRARIES, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 101-110.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Thorpe, K & Galassi, M 2014, 'Rediscovering Indigenous Languages: The Role and Impact of Libraries and Archives in Cultural Revitalisation', AUSTRALIAN ACADEMIC & RESEARCH LIBRARIES, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 81-100.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Evans, J, Faulkhead, S, Manaszewicz, R & Thorpe, KA 2012, 'Bridging Communities Foundations For The Interchange Of Ideas', Information, Communication & Society, vol. 15, no. 7, pp. 1055-1080.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Research undertaken with one's own community can be complex and demanding. It can also be valuable and fulfilling. Those who take on this challenge must often straddle variant roles, values, and perspectives with the potential for the strictures and stru
Gardiner, G, McDonald, JE, Byrne, A & Thorpe, KA 2011, 'Respect, Trust And Engagement: Creating An Australian Indigenous Data Archive', Collection Building, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 148-152.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Purpose: This paper aims to demonstrate the work being done to develop a trusted digital archive for social sciences data relating to the indigenous peoples of Australia. It explores the issues that arise through respectful engagement with both indigenou
McKemmish, S, Faulkhead, S, Iacovino, L & Thorpe, KA 2010, 'Australian Indigenous knowledge and the archives: Embracing multiple ways of knowing and keeping', Archives and Manuscripts, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 27-50.
Thorpe, KA & Faulkhead, S 2009, 'Archival education in Australia and the needs of Australian Indigenous communities', Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues, vol. Special Issue World Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Education, Volume 12, no. 2008, pp. 309-309.
Thorpe, KA, Williams, L & Wilson, A 2006, 'Identity and Access to Government Records: Empowering the Community', Archives and Manuscripts, vol. Volume 34, no. Issue 1, pp. 8-30.
Thorpe, KA 2001, 'Indigenous Records - How far have we come in Bringing The History Back Home?', Archives and Manuscripts, vol. Volume 29, no. No. 2.
Thorpe, KA 2016, 'Aboriginal Community Archives: A Case Study in Ethical Community Research' in Research in the Archival Multiverse.
More than a collation of research methods for handy reference, this volume advocates for reflexive research practice as a means by which to lay bare the fuzziness and messiness of research.
Thorpe, KA, Bray, P & Smith, M 2017, 'Building Weemala: an Indigenous language interactive', Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) Online, Data Information Knowledge, Sydney, Australia.
Thorpe, K & Byrne, A 2016, 'Indigenous voices in the State Library of New South Wales', AUSTRALIAN LIBRARY JOURNAL, ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, pp. 17-29.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Thorpe, KA & Galassi, M 2015, 'Diversity, Recognition, Respect: Embedding Indigenous Services at theState Library of New South Wales, Australia', http://library.ifla.org/1144/, International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) World Library and Information Congress, IFLA, Cape Town, South Africa.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The State Library of New South Wales (NSW) holds significant collections of material relating to the history and experiences of Indigenous people in Australia. These collections are a vital resource for Indigenous people and communities, particularly in relation to language and cultural revitalisation. As Australia’s oldest library, with its origins dating back to 1826, the State Library aims to inform, educate and inspire with the services it provides online, on site and on tour.
In 2014, the Library renewed its focus and commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities by establishing a team dedicated to developing Indigenous services for the Library. This paper provides a case study of the Library developing a Business Plan (2014) for Indigenous services. It will describe the research and engagement process undertaken to develop the plan and to progress Indigenous priorities as core business of the Library. The building of long-term and meaningful relationships with Indigenous people and communities, through ongoing consultation will be discussed.
Speakers will share information on strategies for embedding Indigenous library services through a respectful recognition of Indigenous culture and history. In doing this the paper will aim to promote a two-way learning process - where libraries can engage in ongoing capacity building for staff to feel competent and empowered.
Thorpe, KA & Joseph, M 2015, 'Digital engagement and the ATSILIRN protocols: indigenous Australian experiences and expertise guiding the use of social media in libraries', http://information-online.alia.org.au/content/digital-engagement-and-at…, Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) Information Online, ALIA, Sydney, Australia.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
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, a...
Gardiner, G, Mulhollann, E, Thorpe, K, Byrne, A, Smith, L & Jones, M 2011, 'Raiders of the Lost Archive.', IASSIST Conference, IASSIST.
Mulhollann, E, Thorpe, K & Gardiner, G 2011, 'Connecting research data and indigenous communities', Proceedings of the ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries, pp. 447-448.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This poster demonstrates the program of consultation and associated technical workflow developed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data Archive (ATSIDA) to support the digital return of research data to Indigenous Australian communities, while also facilitating data preservation and reuse in the research community and by the general public. © 2011 Authors.
Mulhollann, E, Byrne, A, Gardiner, G & Thorpe, K 2010, 'No humbugging: Curating Indigenous data to promote eResearch.', IASSIST.
Creagh, S 2019, 'Mukurtu: an online dilly bag for keeping Indigenous digital archives safe', The Conversation.
In late 2018, the first international hub of the Mukurtu project was launched in Australia, through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the State Library of New South Wales and the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Training, University of Technology Sydney, with the Centre for Digital Curation and Scholarship at Washington State University in the United States of America (USA).
NSW Australian Mukurtu Hub Manager
The NSW Australian Mukurtu Hub is a collaboration between The Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation, Washington State University, Jumbunna Institute of Indigenous Education and Research at The University of Technology Sydney and the State Library of NSW. The NSW Australian ?Mukurtu ?Hub is a? place of support for Aboriginal peoples and communities who want to manage, preserve and share their cultural heritage and knowledge.