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Finding Indigenous Books and Magazines

Indigenous Books and Magazines at the State Library of WA

The State Library of WA has a great collection of published books about Indigenous people and culture and about Indigenous social issues and concerns.  The best way to locate these is through the State Library of WA Catalogue which allows you to search by title, author and by broad subject headings or keyword search. 

Finding Indigenous Information on our Catalogue:

When looking for Indigenous Information on our catalogue we recommend that you start with a keyword search  which will pick up any item that has that word in any part of the catalgoue record.  When you find an item on the catalogue that is what you are looking for use it as your 'pearl' to find other similar records by following the subject heading hyper-links. 

Here are some examples of some of our subject headings for Indigenous issues and how they build from the general subject area into the specific:

  • Aboriginal Australians - Education - Western Australia
  • Aboriginal Australians - Kinship - Western Australia
  • Aboriginal Australians - Western Australia - Civil Rights
  • Aboriginal Australians - Western Australia - Social Life & Customs
  • Aborigional Australians - Folklore - Juvenile
  • Aboriginal Australians - Languages - Western Australia - Pilbara

You will notice the general to more specific categories are sometimes first based on geographical areas and sometimes on a subtopic  - so do look out for both.  Note also that the subject heading "Indigenous peoples" is generally used to describe materials we have about first peoples from nations outside Australia.

In some cases the subject headings are specific to a topic or subject area - this is particularly true for place names or language names and so can be important when searching for Indigenous records specific to a community.

For instance we have subject headings for:

  • Nyungar languages - readers
  • Wajarri Language
  • Kimberley (WA) - Languages
  • Customary Law - Western Australia

When searching for Government publications start by a keyword search or by the name of the Government department.  Remember that Government department names could change over time so you might like to check the State Records Office catalogue for name changes.

Your State Library also has a number of magazines and newspapers - sometimes referred to as periodicals and serials that are specifically about or for Aboriginal Australians.  Here is an example of some of the subject headings we use in our catalogue to list these:

  • Aboriginal Australian Periodicals
  • Aboriginal Australian Periodicals - Western Australia
  • Aboriginal Australian Newspapers
  • Aboriginal Australians - Social Conditions - Periodicals
  • Aboriginal Australians - Government Relations - Periodicals
  • Aboriginal Australians

For more help with searching on our catalogue see Finding Books and Publications.

The Location of Indigenous information in your State Library

The location of a book in your State Library is dependent on whether the book you are looking for is about Western Australian or published in Western Australia and the dewey decimal classification number (DDC) it is given.

So if it is a Western Australian publication it will be in the J.S Battye Library of West Australian History on the 3rd floor, shelved according to the DDC given on the catalogue record.   If it is a National issue or Indigenous person the item will be shelved on other floors.  For example:

Ground Floor - Arts & Literature Collection (800's) includes:             

  • 820.9 - Australian Literature - Aboriginal Authors
  • 821 - Aboriginal Australians - Poetry

First Floor - Social Sciences, Business & Family history includes;

  • 305 - Scoial Groups
  • 305.89915 - Aboriginal Australians - kinship
  • 323 - Civil and political rights
  • 499 - Aboriginal Australians - Languages
  • 994 - General History of Australian  

Second Floor - Science and Technology includes:

  • 616 - Aboriginal Australians - Medical care

Third Floor - WA History includes

  • Generalities (000) through to Geography & history (900's)
  • 994.1 - General WA History; this is a significant collection to browse.

You need to keep in mind that books with a 'Q' or a 'B' in front of the DDC number may be shelfed as a separate sequence, so ask the reference librarian at the desk on each floor to help you.

Indigenous magazines in your State Library

Magazines and periodicals, like books can be searched for using a keyword search or subject heading search within our catalogue.  Also like books they are organised on the shelfs according to the dewey decimal number they are given.

However generallly they are shelved separately to the books in their own sequence - you will recognise the shelves as often the items are either in pamphlet boxes or in bound volumes - each title bound in the same colour.

Unless they are electronic copies of magazines and periodicals then they will be within our electronic databases.  See our listing of Indigenous e.resources for more information.

What's Stock and Stack?

Can't find it on the shelf and the catalogue says its in the Stack - well this is secret library talk for behing-the-scenes storage. There are a number of perfectly good reasons for this. 

1.  We don't have the room to fit everything out in the public areas

2.  Some books and magazines are old and rare and so need to be stored very carefully in temperature and humidity controlled areas. 

In the top left hand corners of the item description you will find a  'request' button on items that are in our stack areas - our staff will retrieve the item from our storage areas and deliver it to the reference desk. Retrievals are every thirty minutes, so if you're on a tight time frame you are welcome to phone us before your visit to ensure the items are ready when you are.

Page last updated: Monday 13 August 2012