The Barbara Drake Memorial Library is a resource regarding Tongva and Indigenous cultures in California and the United States. Shortly before her death in November 2020, Tongva Elder Barbara Drake began planning and taking the first steps for a library at the RRC dedicated to Tongva culture, history, language, and California native plants. Drake along with Craig Torres shared their most valued books, which were then ordered for the collection. We began to co-determine categories for inclusion without utilizing the Dewey decimal system, which relegates all Indian cultures to the category of “history”—essentially writing Native cultures out of the present time.
After Barbara’s death, Barbara’s husband Gary Drake donated her books to the Redford Conservancy and subsequently gave her papers–full of educational and cultural materials–to Special Collections at the Honnold-Mudd Library.
The library will serve as a resource for the Tongva community, for Claremont College students, faculty, and staff, and for broader communities. We hope the library will serve as a tool for Tongva cultural heritage, curated by and for Tongva people. The Barbara Drake Memorial Library is housed in the built-in bookshelves within the Conservancy entryway, which is now warm with their presence–and hers. The loss of elder Barbara Drake in November 2020 leaves an enormous gap in our lives and in our hearts. We hope to honor her legacy by bringing the Tongva Library Project she envisioned to fruition.
Stay tuned for library news, open hours, and cataloging progress. With gratitude to the Drake family and the Tongva community for entrusting this important resource to the RRC. To read more about Barbara Drake, click here.