The Critical Catalog: Understanding Metadata for Access to and Promotion of Diverse Library Resources

While diversity is a core value of American librarianship, no systematic and scalable tools currently exist to promote diverse reading materials by and about marginalized populations. The project uses a research through design approach to investigate how systematic tools like library catalogs can advocate for diverse materials, encourage exposure of such materials to a broader audience, and prevent the unintentional erasure of such materials in library collections and explore what metadata elements, values, and organizational structures are necessary to achieve these goals. Using a critical design approach, we created a library catalog that advocates for diversity and exposes library users and readers to resources from populations traditionally marginalized in literature and publishing by designing a system where the default is no longer the white heteronormative male author. Such a system offers the possibility to raise awareness of diverse library materials; expose readers to new and different resources, ideas and cultures; alter reading habits; and ultimately provide more equitable representation by preventing the inadvertent and unintentional erasure of diverse library materials.

This project was funded by the 2018 OCLC/ALISE Library & Information Science Research Grant Program (LISRGP)

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