Weekly response: Christina T

Classification and cataloging reflect the worldview and sensibility of a particular time. In “Teaching the Radical Catalog,” Emily Drabinski says classification systems are “socially produced and embedded…products of human labor that carry traces of all the intentional and unintentional racism, sexism, and classism of the workers who create them.” Is there value then to retain a record of updates within the LC catalog — to capture these changes in society?

Drabinski proposes that library programs “teach students to engage critically with the classifications as text, encouraging critical thought in relation to the tools.” In this way, users would “understand the limits of and power enacted by classifications,” in order to “use them for their concrete purposes — finding books on library shelves — and to transform our relationships to them via critical engagement.” This seems in line with a new pedagogy in education which is based on students (previously passive learners) working in partnership with teachers to create new knowledge.


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