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Describing Indigenous Resources

Describes the activity undertaken at UVic Libraries to improve description of Indigenous people, communities, and resources.

Subject Headings: What's the Issue?

UVic Libraries, like many cultural heritage institutions, describes its collections using standardized language and terminology. In particular, we use Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) to describe what resources are "about" - or their subject. LCSH is applied by libraries around the world and has become the default subject terminology in use by libraries in the English-speaking world. 

As a global vocabulary that was first published in 1909, the terminology used in LCSH has expanded and evolved over time, but terms within it are still often outdated, offensive, and otherwise problematic. 

Among these problematic subject headings are the use of "Indians of North America" ; "Indians of South America" ; and other headings that contain the word "Indians" (i.e. Coast Salish Indians, Abused Indian Children, etc.). 

UVic Libraries recognizes that these terms are unacceptable and is working towards less harmful descriptive practices. In addition, we understand that language, people, and community evolve. As such, our descriptive language must evolve with it. Although we are unlikely to ever be perfect in the descriptive language we use - we are wholly committed to improving.


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This work by The University of Victoria Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise indicated when material has been used from other sources.