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

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.


Program Details:

Saturday, June 25, 10:30am

ALCTS sponsored program

  1. Presentation Title: Impacts and Limitations of Culturally Responsive Subject Headings in Tribal College Libraries

Presenter: Hannah Buckland, Leech Lake Tribal College

Abstract: 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 necessary.

  1. PresentationTitle: Hidden Stories, Inclusive Perspectives: Describing Photographs of Jewish Refugees in Shanghai

Presenter(s): Rachel Wen-Paloutzian, Loyola Marymount University

Abstract: 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. Presentation Title: Digital Library North: Engaging with communities to develop culturally appropriate-and-aware metadata

Presenter: Sharon Farnel, University of Alberta

Abstract: Digital Library North 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.

  1. Presentation Title: Creating Inclusive and Discoverable Metadata: Practices at Fresno State

Presenter: Tiewei Liu, California State University, Fresno

Abstract: 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 well.

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2 Responses to Join the discussion @ ALA Annual: ‘Diverse and inclusive metadata: Developing cultural competencies in descriptive practices’

  1. Maurine McCourry says:

    Is there a location set yet for these events?

    • Anne LePage says:

      The Saturday presentations are in the Orange County Conference Centre, S320E-F. The Sunday presentations are in the Orange County Convention Center, W102A.

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