Teaching the Radical Catalog

I was excited to read this article by Emily Drabinski as she is one of my professors this semester!  From her beginning anecdote, I was immediately intrigued by the concept of racism in cataloging systems.  Seemingly harmless subject headings often actually carry deep roots of white supremacy.  I find this point fascinating and unfortunately very true in many aspects of structure.  I also found the concept of hierarchies within the structure interesting because it is often not thought of, especially by me.  While the hierarchies may be structurally necessary, they are also sending the message of importance or priority within a category–an importance designated only by the creator.  Emily says, “In library classifications, the work of choosing the “first cut” for a given book is by catalogers.  This is a very human and very subjective process: What is this book in my head primarily about?”  I especially appreciate the points toward the end about viewing the library catalogue critically while teaching, as this method can be used going forward to ensure a better interpretation of cataloging ideas.

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