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Harmful Language Statement


Gleeson Library | Geschke Center and Zief Law Library at the University of San Francisco acknowledge library catalog records, archival finding aids, and other forms of library description – and the materials they describe (books, videos, manuscripts, etc.) – contain harmful language. Such language is offensive, perpetuates systemic oppression, and reflects prejudices that are not condoned by USF or its Libraries.

The USF Libraries are engaged in ongoing reparative projects to identify harmful description, to remediate the harmful language when it is possible; and when remediation is not possible, to advocate for change. We align this work with other anti-racism initiatives on campus to repair historic and current harmful practices.

Our goal in this work is to present and describe our materials in a manner that is informative, accurate, and respectful to the individuals and communities who create, use, and are represented in the collections we manage. We are working towards greater equity of access and use within libraries and archives so that historically marginalized groups have more control over how they are represented and described. We recognize that terminology evolves over time and that these efforts must be ongoing.

We appreciate input from the community. Please send suggestions to the Gleeson Library Metadata and Collection Services department in an email to

This statement was prepared by the Reparative and Inclusive Description Working Group, which, at the time of this writing, is made up of predominantly white, cis-gendered librarians at a predominantly white institution. We are grateful to our colleagues who identify differently for sharing their perspectives in shaping this statement.

With this statement, we follow the model of many other libraries, including the Digital Public Library of America’s Statement on Potentially Harmful Content.

Approved September 8, 2022; published September 27, 2022

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