Inclusive Language Initiative

Inclusive Language Initiative

May 25, 2021

Like many libraries, Musselman Library uses metadata originating from the Library of Congress to populate its catalog, MUSCAT Plus. We recognize that Library of Congress Subject Headings and other controlled vocabularies may contain antiquated and offensive language. Such language fails to accurately and authentically represent the lived experiences, interests, and priorities of diverse peoples. Such language also perpetuates harmful stereotypes and upholds systemic racism. To mitigate the shortcomings of LCSH and other controlled vocabularies and to make the catalog more inclusive, Musselman Library will be proactive in addressing problematic language.

In accordance with our Inclusion Action Plan, Musselman Library strives to improve access to resources that highlight the lived experiences, interests, and priorities of diverse populations. Part of this task includes updating the language used in our materials description and online catalog. We targeted subject headings in particular since they often serve as the authoritative topical description for an item.

Following in the path of other libraries, we have created a process to update problematic subject headings in our catalog to more appropriate and inclusive terms.

In the spring of 2021, we implemented this process with our first set of terms:

Old Subject HeadingUpdated Subject Heading
Illegal aliens Undocumented immigrants
Illegal alien children Undocumented immigrant children
Illegal aliens in literature Undocumented immigrants in literature
Children of illegal aliens Children of undocumented immigrants
Women illegal aliens Women undocumented immigrants
Taxation of aliens Taxation of immigrants
Deportation of aliens Deportation of immigrants
Alien detention centers Immigrant detention centers
Alien criminals Criminals
Alien labor Foreign workers
Alien property Foreign-owned property
Aliens Noncitizens
Aliens in art Noncitizens in art
Aliens in literature Noncitizens in literature
Aliens in mass media Noncitizens in mass media
Aliens in motion pictures Noncitizens in motion pictures

We intend to continue this process going forward as other problematic terms are found and reported, in consultation with our Diversity & Inclusion Committee and other campus partners.

Note: On November 12, 2021, the Library of Congress confirmed plans to officially update the term "Illegal aliens".