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Subject cataloging; Libraries and indigenous peoples; Decolonization; Library metadata; Linked data; Discrimination in language


This paper considers the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA) recommendation to “decolonize library access and classification” and begins by exploring the difficulty involved when addressing this recommendation working from within a colonial institution that represents a colonial worldview. It compares general characteristics of Western and Indigenous worldviews and considers the affect that these perspectives have on the organization of knowledge and information especially in relation to a controlled subject vocabulary like the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). It presents the “term circle” as a way to mitigate colonial biases by creating a hybrid subject language system using SKOS RDF/XML in a linked data context. This hybrid system facilitates Indigenous community participation in the control and development of subject metadata and suggests a new role for library metadata.


I would like to acknowledge the many insights gained through my participation with the numerous colleagues I worked with as part of the Red Team in the Canadian Federation of Library Associations’ Indigenous Matters Committee and especially for Camille Callison’s guidance and support. I am also indebted to Stacy Allison-Cassin, Dan Scott and Dean Seeman who introduced me to the possibility of using Wikibase as a potential tool for authority control.

This is the preprint. The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is available in The Journal of Library Metadata published online April 5, 2022

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.