Panel 11: Cataloging Our Values: Critical Approaches to Resource Description (2016)

Panel 11 – Cataloging Our Values: Critical Approaches to Resource Description

SALALM 61, Panel 11, May 12, 2016, 2:00-3:30pm
Moderator: Tim Thompson, Princeton University
Rapporteur: John B. Wright, Brigham Young University

Lisa Gardinier, University of Iowa—“Who Deserves to Be Cataloged? Zines and the Privilege of Bibliographic Description”

Tina Gross, St. Cloud University; Cate Kellett, Yale Law School—“Conflicting Principles and Priorities: Challenging the Subject Heading ‘Illegal aliens’”

Sara Levinson, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill—“Subject Headings and Searchable Notes: How Catalogers Improve Access to Latin American Collections at UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries”

Laura Martin, University of Wisconsin-Madison—“Corrugated Board Chapbooks”: Challenges in Cartonera Subject Cataloging”

Lisa Gardinier discussed the zine collection at University of Iowa and how they have decided to catalog these materials.  They originally defined a zine as something that has a staple, but soon clarified by saying that it is a self-publication that generally has a small, self-distributed print run.  Zines are free of paid advertisements.  Authors of zines are motivated by a desire to share their knowledge to their communities.  UI has about 600 items that were collected in person in Mexico (2012, 2013), Argentina (2014), Chile (2014), and Colombia (2015) and some were received through donations from vendors.  Each item is cataloged separately with its own bibliographic record.  All items are housed as a manuscript collection in special collections in a single classification number in folders organized alphabetically by author.  While considering the best way to catalog these materials, the following functional priorities were considered: 1) description, 2) discovery, 3) access, and 4) preservation.  Some compromises resulting from their work: 1) less subject analysis, 2) group record for collection of 5-10 similar zines even if not part of series, 3) Zine Code of Ethics ( prefers minimal authority work (some of the authors intentionally write under pseudonyms to hide real identity).

Tina Gross and Cate Kellet discussed the movement of the SAC proposal to eliminate the use of Illegal aliens in LCSH.  Tina described her work getting a proposal through SAC that would try again to get the Library of Congress to consider discontinuing the use of Illegal aliens as a subject heading because of its pejorative nature.  Originally, a request by Dartmouth students working with a cataloger was made to LC in Sept. 2014 to discontinue the use of Illegal aliens.  In Feb. 2015, LC denied the request.  Tina considered this an opportunity to get involved in a worthy activist cause.  She asked if there was a way to appeal LC’s Feb. 2015 decision and was told that there was not.  She asked if SAC should take this up, and the group agreed that it should.  Tina originally only hoped that SAC would decide that Illegal aliens should not be used.  LC issued a decision paper in March 2016 with its decision to discontinue using the term Aliens as a subject heading.  Instead, they would use Noncitizens.  The LCSH Illegal aliens will be cancelled and replaced by two headings, Noncitizens and Unauthorized immigration.  Cate Kellet discussed the legal terminology of Title 8 of the U.S. Code.  Historically, terminology from Black’s Law Dictionary has been used.  She clarified that updates to LCSH are routine.  Using Undocumented immigrants as a replacement to Illegal aliens is not satisfactory because they are not the same thing.  A good clarification for LC’s decision can be found at:

Subsequently, Representative Diane Black from Tennessee has introduced a bill (H.R. 4926) Stopping Partisan Policy at the Library of Congress Act which, if passed, will disable LC from implementing subject heading changes explained in its March 2016 decision.  Instead, LC will be required to retain the LCSH Aliens and Illegal aliens as well as other headings that existed in 2015.  This issue is not yet resolved.

Sara Levinson spoke about procedures and policies for cataloging Cordel literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  They make these materials more accessible by using contents and summary notes.  They have decided to catalog these materials using collection-level cataloging.  They add content notes for conferences, etc.  These are added to help people gain more access.  They propose classification numbers and LCSH creates and updates through SACO.

Laura Martin works in the Catalog Dept. at UW-Madison and ¼ of her time is spent in Special Collections.  She has been involved in cataloging cartonera books for their Special collections.  Consequently, she proposed the creation of the LCSH Cartonera books, which was approved by SACO in 2015.  Please pay attention to general scope note added to this LCSH: “ǂi Here are entered works on books that are handmade from recycled cardboard by nonprofit publishing houses and distributed through non-standard methods.”  Cartonera books are created by non-profit, cooperative, democratic organizations.  They also include republication of well-known authors who have given permission to publish their materials for free.  Continued use of LCSH Chapbooks or Artist books need to be reevaluated.  Just because something is bound in cardboard does not make it a Cartonera book.


Claire-Lise Benaud (UNM)—When was term Illegal aliens used in US Code?  Kellet responded that it has been used for at least 100 years.  The term Aliens has been used since 1910.

Eudoxio Paredes (U. of Saskatchewan)—The subject heading Cartonera books is more a form heading than a subject heading.  Is it important use as a topic (650) or a form (655)?  Martin indicated that using it as both is important.

Paloma Celis-Carbajal (UW-Madison) –Researchers want these books (Cartonera books).  We needed specific LCSH for this kind of resource.

Cate Kellet clarified that the term Illegal aliens was coined in 1950 after being used in a court case.

Benaud (UNM) indicated that using Undocumented immigrants is not the same as Illegal aliens.

Tina Gross indicated that a term used to describe a group of people should not be offensive to that group and it is preferable to use a term used by a group to describe themselves.  Undocumented immigrants is certainly the most common form that is used by news sources, etc.

John B. Wright (BYU) discussed that a possible issue in this case of Illegal aliens is that the LCSH Illegal aliens began as a class of person.  However, now it is often used to describe an ethnic group and has now become a pejorative term.

Tim Thompson (Princeton) indicated that the term Immigrants implies that people are hoping to permanently reside in the new country.  This is not often the hope of those self-described as Undocumented immigrants.

Ellen Jaramillo (Yale)—Gardinier referred to the Zine Code of Ethics.  I’m unfamiliar with this.  Gardinier indicated that you can access this on the web at

Jaramillo asked if it were true that authors of zines do not want to be credited.  Gardinier responded, Yes, some do not.  As catalogers we need to consider how detailed we will be in doing authority work for these authors.  The Code of Ethics indicate that we should spent minimal amount of time to do this authority work.