you made it over to the Burke Museum yet to see the current featured
exhibit "Out of the Silence: The Enduring Power of Totem Poles"?
Distance MLIS student Tomi Whalen has a special relationship to the
exhibit and what it represents. Tomi
is part of the staff of the Little Boston Branch of the Kitsap
Regional Library located on the Port Gamble S'Klallam Reservation,
right across from the carving shed where she observes tribal elders
carrying on the artistic traditions of their culture.
carvers helped to create the large screen that graces the entrance to
the Burke exhibit. It is the largest known cedar relief carving in the
Northwest and eventually it will be placed in the new tribal longhouse
to be built as part of the House of Knowledge, a center for living culture,
lifelong learning, and contemporary education. The
14 original tribal longhouses were burned down nearly 100 years ago
and the community has not had a center representing native architecture
since that time. This is an exciting project for the S'Klallam people
and for the Little Boston branch that serves their community. When the
House of Knowledge is completed, the Little Boston Branch will also
be a part of this complex.
The Port Gamble
S'Klallam Reservation became the first reservation in the state of Washington
to have a library when the Little Boston Branch opened in 1974 in a
600 square foot A-frame building. The branch was the idea of tribal
chairman Ron Charles. He had always loved the bookmobile and thought
that the community needed its own permanent library. The branch operated
in that tiny space for 15 years, and then the tribe received a grant
in 1988 to expand the library. Little Boston moved into its present
location in 1989. Since then, circulation has increased 700% and the
library staff are now looking forward to doubling their space to provide
more services to the community.
The branch has
always benefited from the support of the tribal council, and Tomi sees
it as a place where relationships between the tribal and non-tribal
communities can be built. The branch has a special collection of materials
about Native American history, art, and tradition. In addition, the
branch provides space for programs that draw people from both communities
to learn about the S'Klallam culture. The branch functions as a focal
point in the community for the kids as well, many of whom jump off the
school bus and head straight in to do their homework and use the computers.
This, for Tomi, is the most rewarding part of working at the branch.
The Little Boston
Branch is succeeding. In 1999 they were awarded the "Excellence
in Small and/or Rural Public Library Service Award" by the Public
Library Association. In announcing the award, U.S. Representative
Jay Inslee stated, "Public libraries are the great equalizer in
our society as they ensure free and unlimited access to invaluable educational
resources for anyone who simply has the desire to learn. Libraries enhance
the knowledge of not only ourselves, but also the world around us. Great
libraries, like Little Boston, deserve our utmost praise and recognition.
Employees continually go above and beyond the call of duty with their
exceptional service to its patrons and commitment to provide enriching
and informative information to everyone in the community."
Tomi believes that
being part of the House of Knowledge demonstrates this vision. She also
hopes to inspire people from the tribe to consider library service as
a career. Toward that end, she was part of the iSchool Diversity Committee
and participated in reviewing the revised Statement on Diversity. "Knowledge
is life with wings," is Tomi's favorite quote from The Prophet
by Kahlil Gibran. She hopes that the Little Boston Branch inspires the
people in her community to use their wings.
For more information,
visit these links:
Library-Little Boston Branch
Burke Museum Online
Port Gamble S'Klallam