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Tuesday, October 19 • 9:30am - 9:55am
Creating an Inclusive Subject Vocabulary to Describe Humanities Resources

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This session will describe how our institution has been working to create a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive subject vocabulary and taxonomy to describe the humanities resources hosted and indexed in our OER Commons Microsite library. We originally sought to enhance the existing metadata of our digital resources by applying more modern, culturally appropriate and diverse terms for subjects, named periods of time, and places, but could not find existing controlled vocabularies that met those standards. We have created a thesaurus of subject terms which prioritizes inclusion and we also apply these to materials supplied by a variety of humanities content providers who we partner with in the Microsite.

We were motivated to create this subject thesaurus to describe our resources because a major aspect that perpetuates inequities in search results for both seekers and publishers of scholarship is that most descriptive metadata—the descriptive information used to facilitate discovery and identification of resources—is largely outdated, Eurocentric, colonial, exclusive, and heteronormative. We are developing terms for representing time in the past and present according to multiple cultures and histories and have had contributions from librarians with some subject area expertise, but we continue to need persons and institutions to assist in stewarding the vocabulary and ensuring that we include voices of a variety of communities, using language individual communities use to describe themselves. This subject vocabulary is always being updated and terms are added as new materials are produced.

In addition to standardizing the metadata keyword terms to prioritize equity and inclusion we perform regular maintenance and review of the terms used on the Microsite to remove keyword errors and synonyms, and limit the amount of one-off keywords in order to reduce the effects of silos among the collections. As terms get added by users and content partners the keyword tags are reviewed and may be merged or modified to ensure they align with the equitable and inclusive subject vocabulary we have instituted.

After participating in this session, attendees will be able to:
  • Blueprint for inclusive knowledge curation and discoverability
  • Reduce the effects of silos in collections
  • Implement controlled vocabularies for subject terms

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Sarah Harris

Associate Librarian, National Humanities Center

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Tuesday October 19, 2021 9:30am - 9:55am EDT
Room D