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Indigenous Librarianship


In 1974 the National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nations) hired Kahnawá:ke librarian Brian Deer to catalogue their research collection. Deer's work with the National Indian Brotherhood and Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) led to the development of the Brian Deer Classification System (BDCS).

One of the strengths of BDC is that it is designed for flexibility to reflect local Indigenous communities and the unique collections of individual institutions. For example, Deer was known to create a new classification system for every organization he worked with (Weihs2019, pp. 12).

Deer's classification system was originally intended for use with small, specialized collections and is not meant to represent all topics of interest to all Indigenous communities everywhere. Furthermore, BDCS is a high-level classification system, and not a subject headings system. As there are no standards or guidelines for implementing BDCS, there can often be inconsistencies within and between collections. Currently, BDCS is not widely used.

With information from: Weihs, J. (2019). A Tribute to Brian Deer. Technicalities 39(3), 11-12.

BDCS in British Columbia and Xwi7xwa Library

From 1978-1980, Keltie McCall and Gene Joseph revised the Brian Deer Classification System (BDCS) for the Union of BC Indian Chiefs Library, producing the BDC-BC. Between 1984-1986, Gene Joseph adapted the BDC-BC for the Indigenous Teacher Education Program (NITEP) collection at the University of British Columbia. X̱wi7x̱wa Library grew out of the NITEP collection, and uses its own version of the BDC-BC to classify materials in our collection. 

Resources for Implementing Brian Deer

Libraries and cultural centres have occassionally written about implementing BDCS at their institution and scholars have explored the use of BDCS theoretically. 

Bosum, A. & Dunne, A. (2017). Implementing the Brian Deer Classification System for Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute. Collection Management 42(3-4), 280-293. DOI: 10.1080/01462679.2017.1340858

Cherry, A. & Mukunda, K. (2015). A case study in Indigenous classification: Revisiting and reviving the Brian Deer Scheme. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 53(5-6), 548-567.

Chester, G. G. (2006). Proposed tribal college cataloging systems: From isolation to association (PhD dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global (ISBN 978-0-542-82425-8).

Gilman, I. (2006). From marginalization to accessibility: Classification of Indigenous materials (Master's research paper). Oregon: Pacific University. Retrieved from: Pacific University Libraries Faculty Scholarship repository 

Swanson, R. (2015). Adapting the Brian Deer Classification System for Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 53(5-6), 568-579.

Tomren, H. (2004). Classification, Bias and American Indian Materials (unpublished research paper). San Jose: San Jose State University.