Skip to Main Content

Harmful Language Statement

How Are the Libraries Addressing These Issues?

We are currently implementing practices to address offensive and harmful language as part of routine description work. In addition, we encourage users to provide feedback and report harmful language to help us with these efforts.

We are developing standards for reviewing and remediating our archival and catalog records so that they respect the communities that have created or are described in the materials. This includes reporting harmful language to relevant vendors and organizations.

Among other resources, Gleeson Library’s Metadata and Collection Management department and Special Collections & University Archives follow the:

When we look for alternate language, we prefer vocabularies that increase the visibility of power dynamics (Tai, 2019; Espinal, Sutherland & Roh, 2018) and that do not “silence knowledge of collective misdeeds” (Nelson, Adams & Salter, 2012, interpreting Trouillot, 1995).

We join a community of practice around the country in addressing these issues. Our work is informed by formal and informal working groups and organizations that suggest changes to standard vocabularies used in libraries and archives, often with the help and advocacy of the affected communities. These processes are complex and ongoing and we are committed to this effort.

In 2021, librarians from several departments at Gleeson Library | Geschke Center and Zief Library convened the Reparative and Inclusive Description working group. After four months of readings and discussion, we began developing our Harmful Language Statement, which acknowledges the presence of harmful language in descriptions of library resources, explains why that language exists, describes our approach to remediating it, and shares a channel for the USF community to report harmful language and engage with the library.

Approved September 8, 2022; published September 27, 2022

Ask A Librarian