With the support of METRO’s Equity in Action grant program, the Brooklyn Public Library and The New York Public Library worked in partnership with BookOps, which serves the cataloging needs of both institutions, to begin aligning their public catalogs with their values by identifying and replacing the subject headings “illegal aliens” and “aliens” with more inclusive terminology. An investigation by the project team determined that controlled vocabulary at the local level would be the most effective route for changing these headings.
The project also included a number of public-facing initiatives to educate library professionals and the general public about the larger context of these cataloging efforts, resulting in workflow documentation for the library profession as well as curricular materials for educators. The project team partnered with THE CITY newsroom to convene a series of focus groups with staff and patrons to better understand the impact of language choice on library access for immigrant communities in New York City. At the same time, both libraries developed a robust programming series including panel discussions, film screenings and youth conversation groups to bring the themes raised by the project to a larger audience.
This presentation addresses all three components of the project: cataloging, programs, and community engagement. Panelists give an overview of the metadata work, which focused on the creation of new subject authority records to replace the Library of Congress headings in the public catalogs of both libraries, as well as detailing how the project team approached the community-focused programming series and engagement efforts, and the outcomes of those activities.