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Archives and Collections
The American Indian Resource Center was established in 1979 by the County of Los Angeles Public Library to address information needs for and about American Indians. With over 10,000 items, AIRC is the largest collection of its kind in an American public library. Our clientele is local, national, and international. The scope of the collection is the continental U.S. and Alaska from pre-Columbian times to the present, with emphasis on California and the Southwest, tribal studies, history, current affairs, and legal issues. Because of the large volume of specialized materials, AIRC has a unique subject classification system under such categories as California Tribes, Urban Indians, American Indians in Film, Teachers' Resources, Tribal Sovereignty, Federal Indian Law, and other specific categories under general categories of history, education, economics, culture, languages, genealogy, health, law, and current affairs. In addition to books, tribal and American Indian newsletters and newspapers, government documents (some dating from the mid-1800's), theses and dissertations, audio and audio-visual materials including audio cassettes, VHS, DVD's, CD's, and 8 and 16mm films, and a Community Information section, AIRC has copies of rare materials, primarily on microfilm, usually found in academic institutions and government archives including U.S. government documents such as Indian Census Rolls dating from the 1820's, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, California Superintendency, 1849-1880, the complete set of the Records of the Indian Claims Commission 1946-1976, and others. Microfilm holdings also include 131 tribal and American Indian organization newspapers, dissertations and theses, records of Indian organizations, oral histories, rare microfilmed books, government publications, and other materials. AIRC has files of clippings about cultural practices, historic events, historic figures, and information about American Indian community issues, community organizations, and community members accumulated from 1979 to 2000. AIRC staff participate in powwows and other American Indian community events, with local American Indian organizations, colleges and universities, and local and national government institutions, all of which are continuous sources for additional materials. Because AIRC is in a public library environment, the collection is not confined by the rules and restrictions standard in academic and government institutions, providing better and easier access to the materials.