Organization of Information in Libraries – Not As Innocent As You Think

How we organize information is laden with value related to power structures and worldview. Langara Library, as with most academic libraries uses the Library of Congress classification scheme and subject headings to organize our collection, especially books and media materials. The system has an embedded Euro-centric worldview along with its attendant colonial practices. Titles by and about Indigenous peoples are overwhelmingly classed in history and ethnographic studies. For example, most books about Indigenous peoples in Canada are found in the E’s and FC’s call number section under the history of North America. Explicit in this organization is that Indigenous peoples are ‘cultures of the past” for study. Names of tribes in LC also continue to be defined by ethnographic studies rather than names used by the Indigenous peoples themselves. 

So I started a journey back in May of this year to decolonize our book collection, in particular titles about Indigenous art and artists. My starting point was to locate some best practices on changing our descriptive work such as cataloguing and classification and to identify concrete ways to support the Indigenization of the curriculum. Of course, the best journeys, at least those in memorable stories, meander and sometimes never quite arrive at a destination point. But I would like to share some of my stopping points….

You can read about my journey indigenous-art-book-collection-decolonize-project or watch a short presentation

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