[Metadatalibrarians] Join the discussion @ ALA Annual: ‘Diverse and inclusive metadata: Developing cultural competencies in descriptive practices’

Liz Woolcott lizwoolcott at gmail.com
Tue Mar 29 09:06:48 PDT 2016

***Apologies in advance for cross-posting***

The ALCTS Metadata Interest Group (MIG) will be hosting two programs on
“Diverse and inclusive metadata: Developing cultural competencies in
descriptive practices” during the 2016 ALA Annual Meeting in Orlando,
Florida in June.

This event will include two sessions on diversity in metadata-related
topics, one to take place on *Saturday, June 25th from 10:30 to 11:30* and
another to take place during the regular business meeting of the ALCTS
Metadata Interest Group, on *Sunday, June 26th at 8:30 am*.

More information about each presentation, including the presenter and
specific presentation topics, can be found below or at the ALCTS Metadata
Interest Group blog


Program Details:

Saturday, June 25, 10:30am

ALCTS sponsored program

1. *Impacts and Limitations of Culturally Responsive Subject Headings in
Tribal College Libraries*

Presenter: Hannah Buckland, Leech Lake Tribal College


At tribal college libraries, prejudice embedded in controlled subject
vocabularies impedes students’ access to library materials.  The
Eurocentric terminology and viewpoint underpinning Library of Congress
Subject Headings, for example, often exclude tribes which have not been
federally recognized, favor anglicized generalization over local precision,
and treat concepts as mutually exclusive entities rather than overlapping,
interrelated pieces, as is more consistent with Native worldview.  Culture
directly molds classification; while no classification system is free of
cultural bias, mass-adopted classification systems like LCSH are troubling
in that they fail to reflect the full spectrum of diversity, both of the
collection and of library users.

At the Bezhigoogahbow Library—a joint-use academic/community library
serving both students of Leech Lake Tribal College LLTC and residents of
the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota—locally assigned,
culturally responsive subject headings improve access to LLTC-owned
materials.  Strategies for developing this metadata will be discussed.
Despite  local successes, however, library staff have observed students
familiar with the specialized vocabulary of the Bezhigoogahbow Library’s
online catalog struggle when conducting subject searches in the consortial
catalog and databases where LCSH remain the norm.  While inclusive metadata
may originate on a local level, implementation on a larger scale remains

2. *Hidden Stories, Inclusive Perspectives: Describing Photographs of
Jewish Refugees in Shanghai  *

Presenter: Rachel Wen-Paloutzian, Loyola Marymount University


When a collection of over 600 photographs and negatives was discovered in
the backlog of Loyola Marymount University LMU Library’s Department of
Archives and Special Collections, there were moments of surprise, intrigue,
and fascination. While information about the collection is limited, the
pictures have presumably been taken by Werner von Bolternstern, a
photographer and avid postcard collector, who donated the collection among
many others to LMU. The Werner von Bolternstern Shanghai Photograph and
negative Collection offers rare visual records and remarkable documentation
of life in Shanghai, China, from 1937 to 1949. Besides Shanghai urban
landscapes, historical  architecture, and street scenes, the photographs
offer a unique glimpse into the community of Jewish refugees living in
Shanghai at the time, including social life, businesses,  community events,
and government documents of Jewish refugees who fled the Holocaust.

Through contemplating various strategies for developing accurate and
inclusive metadata, this presentation will discuss the research and
creation process of descriptive metadata for the Werner von Bolternstern
Shanghai Photograph and Negative Collection. It will highlight ethical and
political questions in terms of how to appropriately describe the
photographs and how to create sensible description out of uncertainty. As
the presentation will evaluate controlled vocabularies and subject
headings, especially for images of people who might or might not be Jewish
refugees, it illustrates the importance  of metadata in historical
identification and narratives. Part of the research for metadata creation
is to understand the historical and social context of these images, not
making a conclusion but opening the door to more meaningful conversation on
this topic.  Further, this presentation will explore two strategies to
ensure inclusiveness and enhance description: the strategy of crowdsourcing
with the community of Jewish refugees who lived in Shanghai during the
1930s and 1940s, as well as the strategy of maintaining  a balance between
description and interpretation in order to sensitively represent diverse
communities from different perspectives. Perhaps the most important
strategy for increasing cultural inclusiveness of metadata is to be open
and flexible, as we treat metadata as dynamic living narration of stories
and perspectives.

Sunday, June 26th, 8:30am

ALCTS Metadata Interest Group Business Meeting

1. *Digital Library North: Engaging with communities to develop culturally
appropriate-and-aware metadata*

Presenter: Sharon Farnel, University of Alberta


Digital Library North https://www.ualberta.ca/~dln/is a four year
collaboration between researchers at the University of Alberta Edmonton,
Canada), staff at the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre Inuvik, Canada),
and  communities within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region ISRNorthwest
Territories, Canadato develop a digital library infrastructure to support
access to cultural resources. A key objective of the project is to work
with the communities to develop a culturally  appropriate metadata
framework for resource description and discovery.

We are seeking to define and develop a culturally appropriate metadata
framework through multiple  parallel processes: a) investigation and
critical examination of the scholarly literature around cultural approaches
to metadata, b) examination and assessment of the characteristics of the
proposed content of the digital library, c) close collaboration with

community members to understand the metadata elements important to meeting
their information needs, and d) design of metadata based on information
seeking behaviours of community members.

In this session, we will a report on early investigations into the
literature of culturally relevant  metadata, b) discuss the results of
early engagement - interviews, surveys,  information audits - with the
communities and assessment of sample digital library content, c) describe
how this influenced the initial metadata design and application to sample
materials,  d) and discuss the processes for taking the design and
application to the communities for testing and feedback.

2. *Creating Inclusive and Discoverable Metadata: Practices at Fresno State

Presenter: Tiewei Liu, California State University, Fresno


Today, it is very important that academic libraries make efforts to
increase cultural inclusiveness and cross-cultural discoverability in their
metadata services.   This presentation introduces such efforts to be made
in the new institutional repository services at the Henry Madden Library of
the California State University, Fresno, a highly diverse campus with a lot
of faculty and students with international background.

In this presentation, the speaker will share the experiences and best
practices in creating inclusive  and discoverable metadata in Fresno
State's institutional repository hosted by DSpace. This collaborative
project involves faculty and students to join in metadata creation and
implementing authority control. The presenter will also share the
conceptualization for this process. Attendees will learn concepts and
methods applicable to metadata creation and management in other settings as

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