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George Mason University Infoguides | University Libraries
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LGBTQ+ Studies

Resources for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies.

LGBTQ+ Guide Suggestions

Subject Headings in the Catalog

At Mason libraries, we use the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) and the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) to classify and describe materials. These systems are over 100 years old, and although constantly changing are still reflective of the white, male bias of their conception. 
 
Controlled vocabularies like LCSH are used because they allow users to more easily find materials on a topic. However, LCSH is based on the concept of literary warrant - that terms for inclusion must be widely used in published literature. Unfortunately, this serves to exclude terms that describe marginalized groups in the way that they wish to be described. The catalog thus often perpetuates racism and racial bias.
 
As an example, the currently authorized term is Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945 rather than Japanese American--Forced removal and incarceration, 1942-1945. 
 
Librarians at Mason are working to change harmful subject headings in the catalog. If you have suggestions for how language might be improved, please use this form.