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Harmful Language in the Library Catalog

If you discover harmful or offensive language in Emory University Libraries catalog records please let us know.


At the Emory University Libraries, we are committed to creating inclusive, anti-racist, non-derogatory bibliographic descriptions that accurately describe our holdings. However, we acknowledge that some of our bibliographic descriptions may contain racist, homophobic, sexist, or otherwise derogatory and offensive language. In most cases, this language will be present in older bibliographic records that were created in years and decades past. We are dedicated to finding ways to mitigate use of harmful and offensive language in bibliographic descriptions in our catalog and we invite you to contact us if you have encountered hurtful language. 

Harmful or offensive language may appear for the following reasons: 

  • Some derogatory terms used to describe historically oppressed people have been reclaimed and used by authors and creators from those communities. 
  • Terms historically used by a community to describe themselves have fallen out of use or out of favor. 
  • We use Library of Congress Subject Headings to enable standardized searching and access across our holdings. LOC Subject Headings changes have to go through an extensive review, editorial and approval process and sometimes can only be changed by legislative action, and some of these headings continue to use outdated language. 
  • We have transcribed information directly from the materials themselves. 

We acknowledge that we are often describing communities of which we are not a part. We recognize our responsibility to describe our resources and their creators respectfully and carefully. We also recognize that we may sometimes fail and are dedicated to a process of constant reflection and improvement. 

We are pursuing actions to remediate these issues, including reviewing and correcting existing records and implementing better processes going forward. This process is complex and ongoing, but we are committed to this effort. If you discover harmful or offensive language in catalog records please use this form to report it and suggest alternative language or email us. We welcome your feedback.