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Erin Johnson

Live and let live.

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Throughout 2017 and 2018 the Indigenous Metadata Inventory Working Group (IMIWG) of Western Libraries worked to develop an overview of existing descriptive metadata practices at Western Libraries for resources in the library’s catalogue, archives database/fonds, and insitutional repository. The project was guided by CFLA’s Truth & Reconciliation Committee recommendation to “decolonize access and classification by addressing the structural biases in existing schemes of knowledge organization and information retrieval arising from colonialism by committing to integrating Indigenous epistemologies into cataloguing praxis and knowledge management[1].

We can only address problems of description to the specificity in which they are identified, and this is the purpose of our inventory. It will help us to narrow in and reflect on how we describe library materials related to Indigenous peoples. What subject headings are commonly applied? What subdivisions do we use? The inventory is a tool that can highlight where change is needed in these areas and support future efforts to decolonize library description and access.

The next step in addressing the structural bias of the library’s catalogue is the leap into integrating indigenous epistemologies into how we describe resources. This should be approached in a big picture way, with guidance from CFLA’s Truth & Reconciliation Committee and in partnership with members of the OCUL Collaborative Futures project.

Our dataset is openly available on Western University’s Dataverse.

It includes:

  • Inventories
  • Coding documentation
  • Report on the vocabulary used in our institutional repository
  • Final report of the Indigenous Metadata Inventory Working Group

All feedback is welcome and appreciated. Please reach out to us using the contact link in Dataverse.

  1. Callison, Camille (2017). Truth and Reconciliation Committee Report and Recommendations. Canadian Federation of Library Associations, p. 13.