Improving Library Subject Headings for Iowa Indigenous Peoples

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By authorizing outdated terms for North American Indigenous peoples, the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) vocabulary—a list of subject terms used to describe information resources in library catalogs around the world—deprioritizes or ignores the preferred names of the peoples being described. As a result, library professionals constrained by LCSH often must apply names imposed during colonization. For example, in many library catalogs, resources about people of the Meskwaki Nation in Iowa are labeled with “Fox Indians--Iowa,” and Ioway peoples are described as “Iowa Indians.” Continuing to use nonpreferred names is disrespectful to Indigenous communities, and it can hinder the discoverability of library resources. As part of a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative at Iowa State University Library, a working group in the Metadata Services department undertook a project to build, publish, and use a controlled vocabulary of preferred terms for Indigenous communities with ties to land that is now part of the state of Iowa. This presentation discusses the working group’s research, outreach efforts, published vocabulary, and process for adding the preferred subject headings to library catalogs.


How to Cite: Campbell, H. , Rose, N. & Dieckman, C. (2022) “Improving Library Subject Headings for Iowa Indigenous Peoples”, Iowa State Conference on Race and Ethnicity. 23(1).