Kirsten Thorpe (Worimi, Port Stephens NSW) is a professional archivist, who has led the development of protocols, policies, and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in libraries and archives in Australia. Kirsten’s professional and 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 joins the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research as Cultural and Critical Archivist where she will 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.
In 2018, Kirsten began PhD studies through Monash University to investigate the return and connection of Aboriginal community archives in the records continuum and archival multiverse.
- Professional Member of the Australian Society of Archivists
- Secretary, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Special Interest Group (ATSI-SIG), Australian Society of Archivists
- Member, Collections Advisory Committee, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)
- Co-Founder of the International Indigenous Archives Network
- Member Research Advisory Committee, National Centre for Indigenous Genomics, Australian National University
- Member, State Archives and Records NSW Advisory Group
- Member, Indigenous Advisory Committee, ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage.
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.
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.
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.
Thorpe, K & Galassi, M 2014, 'Rediscovering Indigenous Languages: The Role and Impact of Libraries and Archives in Cultural Revitalisation', Australian Academic and Research Libraries, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 81-100.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The State Library of New South Wales (SLNSW) has embarked on a significant project to identify and make accessible materials in its collection relating to Indigenous Australian languages. The project Rediscovering Indigenous Languages seeks to reconnect Indigenous Australia people and the wider Australian community to word lists and vocabularies relating to the first languages of Australia. The various phases of the project - from research and curation, through to community engagement and collaboration - aim to connect with both Indigenous people and other language projects to assist with the process of language and cultural revitalisation.This paper will discuss principles and protocols guiding the work of the Rediscovering Indigenous Languages project, in particular the importance of encouraging active discussion with communities and linguists in regards to the use and revitalisation of these historical documentary resources. As a case study, this project demonstrates the importance of designing library and archival systems that proactively connect Indigenous people with their knowledge sources held within library and archive collections. Community engagement and collaboration, led by Indigenous protocols, are vital components of designing and delivering projects that have maximum impact for language and cultural revitalisation.Measuring the impact of the Rediscovering Indigenous Knowledge project requires new ways for libraries to consider the value of their engagement with communities. Approaching Indigenous library service development and services in these ways will ultimately lead to more sustainable and collaborative projects being developed to benefit the broader community. In addition, there is potential for archival collections to be enriched and revitalised in new and exciting ways. © 2014 Australian Library & Information Association.
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 and Research Libraries, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 101-110.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Indigenous Knowledge is important for Indigenous communities across the globe and for the advancement of our general scientific knowledge. In particular, Indigenous astronomical knowledge integrates many aspects of Indigenous Knowledge, including seasonal calendars, navigation, food economics, law, ceremony, and social structure. Capturing, managing, and disseminating this knowledge in the digital environment poses a number of challenges, which we aim to address using a collaborative project emerging between experts in the higher education, library, archive and industry sectors. Using Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope and Rich Interactive Narratives technologies, we propose to develop software, media design, and archival management solutions to allow Indigenous communities to share their astronomical knowledge with the world on their terms and in a culturally sensitive manner. © 2014 Australian Library & Information Association.
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.
Cryle, M. 2007, 'Australian Indigenous Knowledge and Libraries, Martin Nakata & Marcia Langton (Eds.), Australian Academic and Research Libraries, Canberra, 2005, vi+216pp, ISBN 0 86804 563 2', The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, vol. 36, pp. 111-113.View/Download from: Publisher's site
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.
© 2016 Australian Library and Information Association. The State Library of New South Wales holds the worlds most extensive collection on the European exploration and colonisation of Australia and its region and the subsequent development of Australia. Much is held about the Indigenous peoples, some created by Indigenous artists and chroniclers, but the majority by others including explorers, government officers, missionaries and settlers as well as the more recent ethnographers, historians and writers. Many of the records are fragmentary and hidden within documents dealing with other matters. The State Library is working to make these records available in consultation with Indigenous communities. It also seeks to include more and stronger Indigenous voices to reflect on Indigenous experience and provide commentary on the material in the Librarys collections. The Librarys partnership with the New South Wales public library network offers a means for engagement with communities as well as an opportunity to provide better services to Indigenous people.
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.