[Library Media] Race-based subject headings

Lanell Rabner lanell.rabner at nebo.edu
Wed Mar 8 12:02:34 MST 2017


I have thoroughly enjoyed this interchange. I think it's good for us to
reflect on just why there are cataloging rules. We may not think they apply
to our particular school or library, however, our library is not the only
library our users will interface with. There needs to be continuity and
consistency, so users can easily navigate libraries world-wide.

~lanelll rabner

On Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 11:55 AM, Juan Lee <jtlee at utah.gov> wrote:

> This is a fascinating discussion, so I would like to add a couple of
> thoughts:
>
> - Subject headings are invaluable "wayfinding" tools in the context of
> limited ILS search capabilities. Until ILS companies invest in developing
> better search tools that approximate Google or Amazon algorithms, subject
> headings are essential.
>
> - With millions of hyphenated-Americans in the world, I find the ability
> to search for the term "X-American" very helpful to identify items that are
> specific and culturally relevant to my patron.
>
> ~Juan Lee
>
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>
> *Juan Tomás Lee*, Library Consultant
> Utah *State Library* Division
> 250 N 1950 W Suite A
> Salt Lake City, UT 84116
> 801-715-6769 <(801)%20715-6769>  |  800-662-9150 <(800)%20662-9150>  |
> jtlee at utah.gov
>
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>
>
> On Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 11:03 AM, Lanell Rabner <lanell.rabner at nebo.edu>
> wrote:
>
>> I think this discussion is a good reminder as to why we add subject
>> headings in the first place. I'm a fanatic about subject headings, and lots
>> of them, as these are the entry points to our records. Without them, our
>> users can't find what they need. We can teach our students to initiate a
>> search using keywords, but then for a more in-depth examination of a topic,
>> the subject heading is where we go. And, I love it when the keywords show
>> up in the subject headings!
>>
>> ~lanell rabner
>> Librarian
>> Springville High School
>>
>> On Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 9:52 AM, Whiting, Joshua <
>> jwhiting at graniteschools.org> wrote:
>>
>>> My two cents, I agree with Heather. I think those kinds of subject
>>> headings could be useful for patrons finding books related to their own
>>> culture and experience, and also for finding books on another culture they
>>> are interested in learning about or have been assigned to study. If I
>>> remember correctly we had a question come up on this very listserv in which
>>> a librarian was looking for picture books with regular non-historical
>>> stories that just happened to feature African-American characters. I
>>> thought it was an extremely valid request in that it supported the whole
>>> “mirrors and windows” concept of readers seeing themselves in books and
>>> also seeing people different than themselves. Books about historical
>>> figures and the civil rights movement are important, but sometimes kids
>>> might benefit from seeing other kids who look like them just playing in the
>>> snow or talking to magical animals, too. So the subject headings could be
>>> useful for the librarian in trying to find these kinds of books for
>>> students, and in doing collection development. If you search for something
>>> and nothing or almost nothing comes up, it could indicate you have some
>>> collection development to do in that area to improve the diversity of your
>>> collection.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> I see no problems with having these in your catalog, except the
>>> following cases:
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> 1.       If it were the only subject heading for a title. In this case,
>>> I would say don’t remove it, but instead add some additional relevant
>>> subject headings for that book.
>>>
>>> 2.       If it is an old subject heading using outdated or possibly
>>> offensive language, you should probably modernize it or remove it.
>>>
>>> 3.       If there is a subject heading like “Women Artists” or “African
>>> American Inventors” I would want to make sure there was also one on the
>>> record that is just “Artists” or “Inventors” so that the book/person is not
>>> inadvertently filtered out from searches for all artists or inventors. I
>>> would still leave the more specific one so that patrons can search that way
>>> as well.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> I think if someone in your community were using these headings as a way
>>> to find groups of books to sideline/challenge/weed, that’s not the fault of
>>> the subject headings and you probably have bigger issues to deal with in
>>> terms of educating your community about readers’ rights, open access to
>>> information, diversity, etc.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> *Josh Whiting*
>>>
>>> Library Media | Educational Technology Dept. | Granite School District
>>>
>>> Phone: 385-646-7128 <(385)%20646-7128> | Email:
>>> jwhiting at graniteschools.org | Twitter: @jdwhiting
>>> <https://twitter.com/jdwhiting>
>>>
>>> Web: http://graniteschools.org/edtech | http://granitemedia.org
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> *From:* library-media [mailto:library-media-bounces at lists.uen.org] *On
>>> Behalf Of *Heather Novotny
>>> *Sent:* Wednesday, March 8, 2017 8:50 AM
>>> *To:* Joseph Nielsen <Joseph.Nielsen at slcschools.org>; Cindy Mitchell <
>>> cindy.mitchell at jordandistrict.org>; library-media at lists.uen.org
>>>
>>> *Subject:* Re: [Library Media] Race-based subject headings
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Interesting point about the subject headings!
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> I just showed students how to click on the subject headings in a work's
>>> bibliographic record to find further materials. I love this as a backdoor
>>> to understanding indexing in a library catalog, and it works with any
>>> catalog. The 5th graders were totally geeked up, and a bunch of them went
>>> to the City & County library catalogs to try it immediately.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> The strength of subject indexing is that, unlike keyword searching, it
>>> can return more relevant results. We all learn keyword searching just by
>>> doing it, but subject indexing has got to be taught.
>>>
>>> Regarding removing descriptors that reference ethnicity, not sure I
>>> agree with that. What is the purpose of it? If Korean kids can find books
>>> about kids like them, that's a good thing, right?
>>>
>>> Heather Novotny
>>>
>>> Librarian
>>>
>>> The McGillis School
>>>
>>> 668 South 1300 East Salt Lake City, UT 84102
>>>
>>> hnovotny at mcgillisschool.org
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> *From: *Joseph Nielsen <Joseph.Nielsen at slcschools.org>
>>> *To: *Cindy Mitchell <cindy.mitchell at jordandistrict.org>, "
>>> library-media at lists.uen.org" <library-media at lists.uen.org>
>>> *Sent: *3/8/2017 8:21 AM
>>> *Subject: *Re: [Library Media] Race-based subject headings
>>>
>>> I cringe at it too, but maybe not for the same reason. I’m seeing more
>>> reviews now which specifically point out the ethnicity of the characters –
>>> particularly if they are involved in some type of cross-ethnic
>>> relationship. I suspect it is because of the rising trend in trying to make
>>> our collections more ethnically diverse. But I think a good story should
>>> stand on the merits of the story – not the multi-ethnicity of the
>>> characters. Where such information is relevantly essential – or essentially
>>> relevant - to the story line, then by all means put it in the review and
>>> tell the reader. But otherwise let the story speak for itself. Readers will
>>> picture the characters like themselves, identify with them and develop
>>> their own internal movie. And that is part of what makes reading so special.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Joseph R. Nielsen
>>>
>>> Library Technology Teacher
>>>
>>> Hawthorne Elementary School
>>>
>>> Salt Lake City School District
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> *From:* library-media [mailto:library-media-bounces at lists.uen.org
>>> <library-media-bounces at lists.uen.org>] *On Behalf Of *Cindy Mitchell
>>> *Sent:* Wednesday, March 08, 2017 7:41 AM
>>> *To:* library-media at lists.uen.org
>>> *Subject:* [Library Media] Race-based subject headings
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> I have been editing a lot of MARC records lately and whenever I see
>>> "African American" or "Korean American" and other such subject headings
>>> they make me cringe.  I am thinking of deleting them all together.
>>> Especially because the information is usually available in the summary of
>>> the book and who sees the subject headings any more except for us?  I'd
>>> appreciate some thoughts on this.
>>>
>>> FYI - I have already eliminated the "Girls", "Teenagers", and "Boys"
>>> subject headings!
>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>>
>>> Cindy Mitchell
>>>
>>> South Jordan Middle School
>>>
>>> 10245 S 2700 W
>>>
>>> South Jordan UT 84095
>>>
>>> 801-412-2900 <(801)%20412-2900>
>>>
>>> fax: 801-412-2930 <(801)%20412-2930>
>>>
>>> Scanned By Microsoft EOP
>>>
>>>
>>>
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>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> Lanell Rabner, MLS
>> Librarian
>> Springville High School
>> 1205 E. 900 S.
>> Springville, UT 84663
>> lanell.rabner at nebo.edu
>> 801.489.2870 <(801)%20489-2870>
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> library-media mailing list
>> library-media at lists.uen.org
>> To unsubscribe visit: https://lists.uen.org/mailman/
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>
>


-- 
Lanell Rabner, MLS
Librarian
Springville High School
1205 E. 900 S.
Springville, UT 84663
lanell.rabner at nebo.edu
801.489.2870
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