February 17, 2018

Carlene Engstrom | Movers & Shakers 2009 – Activists

Carlene Engstrom, Salish Kootenai College, Pablo, MTInformation Access

The digitization of the Char-Koosta News archives is just one of the successes Carlene Engstrom has had in integrating tribal libraries—her own and many others—into the larger library world. Engstrom is director of the D’Arcy McNickle Library (DML), which has a triple role as an academic library for the Salish Kootenai Tribal College, a tribal library for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and a public library for the residents of the Flathead Reservation on which the library sits.

In addition to the Char-Koosta project, Engstrom has also helped migrate her library’s holdings into other systems, including the University of Montana Libraries online shared catalog; the National Library of Medicine’s Lonesome Doc/DocLine document-sharing program; and both the Federal Depository and the Montana State Depository library programs.

In June 2008, her efforts on behalf of Native Americans and other underserved populations were recognized with an appointment to the Federal Depository Library Council. She is the first Native American to receive such a distinction.

“Carlene understands that it is imperative for unique tribal information, heretofore held mainly by the tribes, to be publicly available to all peoples of the world to build a realistic, knowledgeable understanding of Native American peoples,” says Holly Ristau, director of the White Earth Tribal and Community Library in Mahnomen, MN.

And, indeed, Engstrom predicts that integrations like DML’s are the front wave of a coming tide. “I see a vitalization of the tribal libraries across the country,” she says. “I see more federated and collaborative library systems, allowing small rural communities access to the resources, skill, and expertise that are taken for granted in large urban libraries.”


Salish Kootenai College, Pablo, MT

POSITION Director, D’Arcy McNickle Library

DEGREE MLIS, University of Washington, Seattle, 1990

ESTABLISHED Tribal College and University Library Association