The staff of the University of Virginia Library recognize that many of our materials result from, are created by, or represent marginalized groups of people, and we are committed to describing those people accurately and respectfully. We welcome your questions or comments related to these approaches and the language we use to describe and provide access to collections. Please feel free to submit comments or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback.
We recognize that descriptive practices have been based on systems and standards ingrained with white supremacy, misogyny, and homophobia. We are making efforts to redress this problematic history. Much of this descriptive work contains insensitive, outdated, or inappropriate language that reflects the harmful biases built into descriptive systems.
To begin to repair this harmful work, UVA Library is taking several approaches:
We are actively removing the harmful language in our legacy records. We have a large collection and this work will take time, but our staff and administration are committed to making these repairs.
As followers of policies established by the Library of Congress and its allied subject vocabulary, the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), we acknowledge that many LCSH headings are biased and harmful. We are supporting efforts underway throughout the profession to change these terms, and we are also taking a localized approach to replacing some harmful and racist terms with acceptable local headings in our own catalog.
Additionally, when describing some archival collections, we include a brief note to patrons alerting them to harmful or pejorative language and directing them to this statement for more information. This approach is namely utilized when we are re-using language provided by creators or former stewards as a way to make collections available for research and to provide important context or historical detail about the materials and those who maintained them.
How to address description concerns:
Patrons and staff: We welcome your questions or comments related to these approaches and the language we use to describe and provide access to collections. Please feel free to contact us at email@example.com with your feedback.
This statement draws on language from similar statements published by Temple University Libraries and Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives. Please see our Additional Sources and Further Reading for more resources related to this topic.