NISO Webinar

Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 1:00pm - 2:30pm (Eastern Daylight) 

Can There be Neutrality in Cataloging: A Conversation Starter

How does one create awareness of the bias that may be introduced into automated systems? This session will look at the selection of vocabulary in establishing taxonomies and ontologies. What is the real nature of the issue? How might establishing, maintenance, and use of a thesaurus contribute to a more inclusive search/discovery process? And where should responsibility lie for developing such ostensibly neutral tools? How can we bring more diverse voices into the development/maintenance of these resources?

Updated Speaker Roster

Here’s what our speakers will be discussing:


Title: Power, corruption, and lies: bias and neutrality in metadata creation

Speaker: Erin Leach, Librarian, University of Georgia


As catalogers, we are taught to strive for unbiased description of library resources. But is unbiased description of library resources even possible? In this talk, Erin Leach will discuss the ways that lived experience impacts the work of metadata creators as well as the ways in which existing taxonomies reflect the power structures in which they were created. Using critical discourse analysis as a lens through which to view metadata creation, Leach will also discuss the ways in which acknowledging cataloger’s bias and the power dynamics inherent in controlled vocabulary can lead to more critically conscious metadata creation.


Title: Just Because We Can, Doesn't Mean We Should

Speaker: Amber Billey, Systems and Metadata Librarian, Bard College


How much information is really necessary in order to record enough about persons and to accomplish the FRBR-LRM and RDA user tasks? With the adoption of RDA, library catalogers have the technical ability and are encouraged to record much more information about people than ever previously required in name authority records -- but should we? With additional attributes associated with persons, there are additional opportunities to record personal information that could unknowingly harm an individual. Furthermore, the information in name authority records travels beyond library use with linked data into domains and disciplines outside of our control. In light of the recent news about data breaches and personal information being misused for marketing and political reasons, librarians should be more careful than ever about what metadata is recorded about persons in name authority records.


Title: Access Requires Subjectivity

Speaker: Jill Hurst-Wahl, Associate Professor of Practice, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University


While we bring our life experiences to cataloguing, our community members also bring their life experiences to their quest to locate needed information.  Does our impartiality serve the needs of our communities?  Would subjective cataloguing provide better entry points?  What could go wrong?


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NOTE: Library Standards Alliance Members of NISO automatically receive sign on credentials for this event as a member benefit. There is no need to register separately. Check your institutional membership here


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