A. Brian Deer

Alec Brian Deer (1945 – January 12, 2019) was a Kahnawake Mohawk librarian known for the development of a library classification system for the National Indian Brotherhood that became known as the Brian Deer Classification System. This classification system, which takes Indigenous knowledge structures into account, has been extended and adapted for use by other libraries in Canada. Deer died on January 12, 2019 at the Royal-Victoria hospital in Montreal.


After graduating from John Grant High School in 1962, Deer obtained a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 1966. Several years later, Deer pursued a Master of Library Science at McGill University which he completed in 1974.


Deer's work on classification has had wide impact on the practice of librarianship and on the theory of knowledge organization, especially as it relates to Indigenous peoples. A. Brian Deer was one of the first Indigenous librarians in Canada. He worked at the library of the National Indian Brotherhood (NIB) in Ottawa, Canada. Finding the system of classification in use problematic, and finding nothing in existence which could adequately organize the materials for use in an Indigenous context, he created a new system. Deer went on to work at the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs library, the Cultural Centre at Kahnawake, and the Mohawk Nation Office.


Deer was also an active independent scholar, elder, teacher and community member. He wrote on issues related to Indigenous knowledge and culture and taught courses at Concordia University. He also ran a video store at Kahnawake.