Your Name and Title: Faye Leibowitz (General Languages Catalog Librarian)
Library, School, or Organization Name: University Library System, University of Pittsburgh
Co-Presenter Name(s): Abigail Gulya (English Language Catalog Librarian)
Area of the World from Which You Will Present: United States of America
Language in Which You Will Present: English
Target Audience(s): Librarians, Library Staff, and library users
Short Session Description (one line): Discussing the role that catalogers play in fairly representing topics, and the politicization of subject cataloging.
Full Session Description (as long as you would like):
- Personal experiences with cataloging biased material
- Subject Headings as gateway to information
- Added importance due to increasing online-only patrons
- Global impact due to shared cataloging
- Value of controlled vocabulary
- Ethical responsibilities of the cataloger
- Provide fair and equal access to information
- Provide accurate and uncensored information
- Provide personally and culturally unbiased information
- Awareness of potential pitfalls due to "cataloger's judgement"
- Historical perspective
- Terminology and classification reflects values of a particular historical period
- LC Classification developed in 1897 - classification of LGBT subjects reflects late 19th century values; bias against Asia and Africa in specificity of topics compared to USA and Europe
- Terminology is easier to change than classification systems (based on traditional use - shelving print materials)
- Concept of "literary warrant."
- Horrible, bigoted, outdated subject headings
- Ex: "Yellow peril."
- Ex: "Jewish question."
- Sandford Berman petitioned Library of Congress to change these subject headings starting in the 1970s
- Political perspective
- Even with ethical standards committing librarians to avoid bias, politics can sometimes get in the way
- LC Subject headings are primarily USA-focused
- U.S. Congress passed legislation requiring LC subject heading "Illegal aliens" to remain in force
- Considerations for searching information in the online environment
Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session: N/A