There have been a lot of discussions and actual conversion works for the Library of Congress Subject Heading (LCSH) Aliens and Illegal Aliens since 2016 as those terms impede efforts towards diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA). The Library of Congress (LC) tried to revise the subject heading “Illegal aliens” in 2016 to “Noncitizens” and “Undocumented immigrants” as alternative subjects to “Aliens” and “Illegal aliens” as recommended by the ALA/ALCTS Subject Analysis Committee (SAC) Working Group. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives objected to the change and ordered LC to continue using the terms.
However, many libraries decided to change or find ways not to use those terms in catalog records or display those terms in their public display. According to our research many libraries have already completed the conversion of those terms to more appropriate terms.
This report includes the motivation of the work and recommendations of the conversion work.
The University of Illinois has many students, staff, and faculty from many different countries and provides research support for those visiting scholars from foreign countries. The University’s strategic plan includes that “We will be leaders in advancing diversity and equity that will contribute to creating an institution committed to excellence in discovery, teaching, and research, and a climate where all can achieve their highest aspirations in a safe and welcoming environment.” The Library’s strategic plan also stresses that we have to provide and support the DEIA efforts in collection buildings and access services. This LCSH terms conversion project will be the first step of those efforts to support campus users and Library’s commitment toward the DEIA work.
LCSH terms affected
The following are identified as the first conversion target with the recommended terms as LC tried to change in 2016.
|Alien criminals||Noncitizen criminals|
|Aliens in literature||Noncitizens in literature|
|Illegal aliens||Undocumented immigrants|
|Alien criminals||Noncitizen criminals|
|Alien detention centers||Immigrant detention centers|
|Alien labor||Foreign workers|
|Alien property*||Foreign property|
|Children of illegal aliens||Children of undocumented immigrants|
|Illegal aliens children||Undocumented immigrant children|
|Children of alien laborers||Children of foreign workers|
|Deportation of aliens||Deportation of immigrants|
|Illegal alien children||Undocumented immigrant children|
|Women illegal aliens||Women undocumented immigrants|
|Church work with aliens||Church work with noncitizens|
Catalogers will keep using the LCSH terms but be aware of the changes in display. The alternative terms will be available and in the LibGuide and updated whenever it is needed.
Because of these challenges, UC Berkeley and U. of Colorado added new terms to the catalog records instead of changing them, and several institutions work with their discovery layers rather than changing their catalog records, including Villanova, California State, and SUNY. The SUNY has an extensive document on how to work with PRIMO to display those terms (also available in the research document).
We recommend that the Library change the display of those LCSH terms to those more appropriate DEIA compliant terms in PRIMO. Based on the preliminary discussion with the CAPT Discovery Group, the work can be done by setting up a new rule.
Catalogers will keep using the LCSH terms but be aware of the changes in display. The alternative terms will be available and in the LibGuide and updated whenever it is needed. (Completed, Feb. 15, 2021)
Current terms in the Digital Library System (DLS) will be evaluated for context and revised as necessary for DEIA efforts. Future subject and keyword terms describing content in the DLS will utilize the same evaluation and application of recommended terms. The Metadata Specialist will regularly audit subject and keyword terms to comply with the recommendations.
This document is prepared for the CAPT CMWG by Erika Johnsrud, Patricia Lampron, and MJ Han in January 2021.