April 19, 2018

Loriene Roy | Movers & Shakers 2005

Recognizing Gifts


Most librarians think literacy is an important goal, but Loriene Roy, an Anishinabe (Ojibwe) enrolled on the White Earth Reservation, knows it’s a harder sell among America’s two million Native Americans, who associate it with a history of forced assimilation and attempts to eliminate their language and culture. Considering most tribal schools have substandard facilities, and lack librarians and adequate reading materials, it becomes an even harder sell.

Much of Roy’s work, both as a scholar and library educator at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), is devoted to creating virtual libraries and museums of indigenous material culture and improving library services for indigenous populations. She writes and speaks on indigenous peoples and librarianship, American Indian literacy, the impact of information technology on indigenous peoples, and incorporating service learning into the LIS curriculum.

Kathleen de la Peña McCook says, “Loriene’s leadership in the American Indian Library Association, her sustained research into the information world of indigenous peoples, and her involvement in documenting tribal librarianship have changed the way U.S. librarians look at service to Native people.”

Roy may be honored most, however, for the projects she’s initiated. Founded in 1999, “If I Can Read I Can Do Anything” is a reading promotion program for Native children that now embraces 20 schools serving children on or near reservations. It has delivered over $100,000 in new books to tribal school or community libraries, provided children with reading incentives, and supported library initiatives such as family reading nights and an annual writing and art contest.

The Roy project that may have the most potential to affect librarianship is “Honoring Generations.” It provides scholarships, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, for American Indian students interested in tribal librarianship, allowing them to enroll in a program at UT’s School of Information.

Roy has high hopes that these students will carry on the work she’s started: spreading the love of reading among Native American children while honoring and preserving their own heritage and wisdom.



Current Position Professor, School of Information and Center for Women’s Studies, University of Texas at Austin

Degree Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1987

Projects If I Can Read I Can Do Anything (www.ischool.utexas.edu/~ifican)NWIC Oksale Program Virtual Library (www.gslis.utexas.edu/~vlibrary) Honoring Generations (www.ischool.utexas.edu/~loriene/HG)