February 17, 2018

David Ongley | Movers & Shakers 2006

A Lit Fuse


To David Ongley, director of the Tuzzy Consortium Library in Barrow, AK, creating a library environment that reflects Inupiat Eskimo culture is ‘not outreach but recognizing my library’s primary clientele and developing collections and services to reflect their interests and needs.’

When Ongley first came to this college/public library with branches in seven outlying village schools, ‘no one seemed prepared to discuss things like Native language collections or cultural property rights,’ he says. ‘This lit my fuse. I decided to do something about it.’

As founder of the Alaska Library Association’s Native Issues Round Table, Ongley insisted that concerns of Alaska natives must always be represented in official discussions and reports and that all state libraries must ‘do right’ by tribal and village libraries in their areas. He led in the creation of ‘Culturally Responsive Guidelines for Alaska Public Libraries’ (www.akla.org/culturally-responsive.html) – a model for all public libraries serving Native patrons, says past president of the American Indian Library Association Kelly Webster.

Distressed that the infiltration of American television and pop culture was eroding Inupiat traditions and language, Ongley has written numerous grants to fund projects for preserving and digitizing documents, oral histories, and local publications reflecting their history and culture.

Ongley isn’t satisfied with his accomplishments, though, and won’t be until his library is fully staffed by trained Inupiat librarians. ‘The issues in which I’ve chosen to engage are not resolved,’ he says.



Current Position Director, Tuzzy Consortium Library, Ilisagvik College, Barrow, AK
Degrees M.S. in Librarianship, Western Michigan University, 1983