Paulita Aguilar (center) and students
Paulita Aguilar (center) and students

UNM University Libraries' Indigenous Nations Library Program (INLP), on the second floor of Zimmerman Library, is celebrating its sixth year assisting American Indian students. Research librarians Paulita Aguilar (Santo Domingo/Kewa Pueblo) and Sarah Kostelecky (Zuni Pueblo) provide reference and instruction services to UNM departments offering American Indian curricula, assist in the retention of students and support recruitment efforts.

INLP hosts elementary and middle school visits of students to UNM libraries and works with instructors who check out books their students use for research and reports.  Aguilar says one first grade class from Kewa brought their parents with them to learn about library resources.

Many American Indian students in New Mexico don't have access to a computer either at home or in school libraries according to Aguilar. When students do find computer time, they rely on Google searches or Wikipedia to meet their research needs. Once students realize librarians are there to help them find resources, Aguilar says they find they are not alone and find it easier to ask for assistance.

To ease the transition into college, INLP offers an introduction to collections within the UNM library system. Through INLP, these students learn about different libraries, including the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections, Parish Library and the Fine Arts and Design Library. Seeing rare books, maps and historic photographs helps participants understand the difference between primary and secondary sources. They also learn about scholarly journals, periodicals, serials and microfiche.

The INLP program is unique because it includes dedicated library space for American Indian students, as well as librarians who provide research help and maintain library collections that focus on American Indian/Indigenous peoples. Students have access to two large study rooms, a presentation room, a Mac Lab with six computers, an American Indian newspaper collection, and, most importantly, two librarians to assist with research.

painting by Sixtus and Susana Dominguez
painting by Sixus and Susana Dominguez

Artwork in the INLP space adds to the inviting feel and is the work of local indigenous artists, Sixtus and Susana Dominguez.  Their work is well known in New Mexico.   The ceilings and walls of the INLP space and the conference room has numerous examples.  The pieces depict symbols important to indigenous peoples locally and around the world including earth, sky, fire, and as well as imagery representing all Native Nations of New Mexico. 

Media contact: Karen Wentworth (505) 277-5627;