Posts Tagged ‘insensitive terms’

Changes to Illegal aliens and other subject headings

Written by Joan on December 6, 2021. Posted in Blog

December 6, 2021

What’s in a name?  Or even a specific term?  Actually, a lot.  Over the last several years, there has been growing concern about problematic or insensitive terms in library cataloging.  Updating subject headings is an important step in library diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

Libraries have implemented in-house or outsourced solutions to ensure that library collections are inclusive and welcoming of the patrons they serve.  One of the way we can help libraries is the use of substitute language as provided by the library.  See how we helped Kansas City Public Library with their specific needs.

On November 12, 2021 the Library of Congress replaced the heading Illegal aliens with two headings: Noncitizens and Illegal immigration.  Other similar headings that were changed at this time include: Women illegal aliens, Children of illegal aliens, and Illegal alien children.

What does this mean for libraries that are getting MARCIVE services?

Customers getting Comprehensive Notification Service will receive BOTH the updated authority records and the updated bib records as soon as we process their next scheduled update.  If that is not soon enough for the library and they get Overnight Authorities service from us they can send in bib records with these headings and we will return the updated bib records at the library’s current per record pricing.

How MARCIVE will change these bib headings depends on what option the library has chosen in their Authority Control Profile regarding split subject term processing.

From our profile:

Standard processing replaces a single access point with all matches to the formerly authorized terms.

  • If you prefer to leave split subject terms unchanged, check this option

When LC splits one term into two or more authorized terms, our standard processing replaces the single former term with the two or more authorized terms as directed by the LC authority records.  The library can choose to leave split subject terms unchanged, however, in which case the incoming former term will not be changed by MARCIVE.

Here are examples of bib heading changes customers can expect via Comprehensive Notification or Overnight Authorities services with standard processing options:

Incoming heading:                           650  _0 $­a Illegal aliens.

Outgoing headings:                         650  _0 $a Noncitizens.
650  _0 $a Illegal immigration.

Incoming heading:                           650  _0 $­a Women illegal aliens.

Outgoing headings:                         650  _0 $a Women noncitizens.
650  _0 $a Illegal immigration.

Incoming heading:                           650  _0 $­a Children of illegal aliens.

Outgoing headings:                          650  _0 $a Children of noncitizens.
650  _0 $a Illegal immigration.

Incoming heading:                           650  _0 $­a Illegal alien children.

Outgoing headings:                         650  _0 $a Noncitizen children.
650  _0 $a Illegal immigration.

Checking the profile option to leave split subject terms unchanged causes the term “Illegal aliens” would remain as is.  Probably not the desired result!

From time to time, we have had the request to substitute such problematic terms with the ones supplied by the library in a spreadsheet, and we are happy to do so.  But we do not delete the LC terms in question. In general, it is usually a bad idea to remove access points.   In the case of “Illegal aliens”, if that heading were deleted a term that isn’t there cannot be flipped!  It is very possible that LC will update other such terms, so deleting them completely from a bib record will not facilitate what an authority record is supposed to do—change outdated terms to current, relevant ones.

Customers who have removed these LC terms completely from their bib records or moved these terms to a different tag will not be able to get the updated headings via Comprehensive Notification or Overnight Authorities services.  It will be up to the library whether to change the local terms they are using in-house and to do this work themselves.

Talk to us about ways we can make your collections more inclusive to your users.  We are here to help!

Written by Joan Chapa, Director of Marketing & Sales, and Candy Riley, Manager of Metadata Services

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