Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Cataloging Services

Acquisitions & Cataloging Services

Review procedures for removing suggested harmful language

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library accepts suggestions from users for any potentially harmful language found in library catalog records. The Library will review all user suggestions following procedures established based on three principles:

  • Subject terms in the library catalog should use inclusive and respectful language.
  • Alternative terms should be accepted and used widely in cultural heritage institutions, such as archives, museums, and libraries, to describe their collections.
  • The review process should be completed in a timely manner.

Suggestions for removal or change of potentially harmful language should be submitted to the CAPT CMWG for review. CAPT CMWG will review the submitted suggestion and conduct additional inquiry as necessary into the potentially harmful language and alternative language to use. If CAPT CMWG determines a change is necessary, it will communicate the acceptance of the suggestion to the requestor and begin the process of executing the change. If the suggestion is rejected, CAPT CMWG will inform the requestor, along with providing a detailed explanation of why the suggestion was rejected. The user may either resubmit to CAPT CMWG with additional information as requested or appeal the decision to CAPT, as appropriate. CAPT may involve or consult with AC as necessary.

CAPT CMWG will maintain a publicly available list of terms already implemented as well as suggestions received and the decisions made.

Some potential reasons a suggested change may be rejected include:

  • The original term and the substitute term are not equivalent (can resubmit with new substitute term)
  • The substitute term is also harmful (can resubmit with new substitute term)
  • The substitute term is not specific or clear enough (can resubmit with a new term)
  • The issue was with inaccuracies/misrepresentations in the specific catalog record/s cited and not a broader issue (items to be re-cataloged; can resubmit with additional examples if found)
  • Unclear statement of justification for why this is a harmful term (resubmit with a clearer explanation)
  • References supporting the use of the substitute are not sufficient (resubmit with better references)
  • Term is not found to be widely used in other cultural heritage institutions to describe their collections (can resubmit to supply evidence to the contrary)

CMWG may consider the following questions when reviewing a suggested change:

  • Is the problematic subject heading one that is currently in use, or has the Library of Congress (LC) changed it already?
  • Is the substitute term already defined as something separate in Library of Congress Subject Headings?
  • Is the substitute term already in use by other agencies, such as Medical Subject Headings?
  • How many records are using the problematic term? Does this affect the approach we would take to address this issue?
  • Have any other institutions made this change that we can find? If not, do we want to consider being the first library to make the change?
  • While ours is a different procedure and audience, the explanations on the FAQ on SACO Subject Heading Proposals and reviewing some of the recent Summaries of Decisions may provide helpful perspective on making decisions about subject terms. LC also provides a list of Web Resources for SACO Proposals.