Electronic and Continuing Resources Librarian University of San Francisco
Language has the power to do harm. When individuals and institutions use racist, prejudiced, and biased language, it both traumatizes individuals and groups and perpetuates systemic inequities that harm our society as a whole. In libraries, archives, and museums, harmful language is found in the content as well as the description of resources. Recognizing this, we are one of many institutions who developed a harmful language statement to guide our workflows and remediation projects. Our poster will briefly describe our Reparative and Inclusive Description working group, our foundational research, the inclusion of the entire library into the editing process, the importance of our statement, and our commitment to putting it into action. We will detail our discussions about wording the statement and how our choices reflect our philosophy. We will discuss how we approached complicated issues such as concerns about academic freedom and censorship; the tension between complaints about prescriptive lists being overly controlling and incomplete and calls for transparency in our decision-making process; and avoiding performative activism. We will discuss the difference between a statement and a policy and how that has affected the statement's implementation.