The Design for Diversity Learning Toolkit: Exploring Education and Advocacy for More Inclusive Information Systems

Web Crit

Friday, April 05, 2019: 9:00am - 10:30am - Grand Ballroom: Web Crit

Amanda Rust, Northeastern University Library, USA, Mattie Clear, Simmons University, USA

Most current systems for the acquisition, housing, and care of cultural objects reflect existing structures of oppression. Typically, the addition of digital technology further perpetuates these power differentials. Providing digital access to the history of marginalized communities requires genuine, responsive partnership and technical and information systems that are responsive to diverse cultural circumstances and needs. These problems are not new or unknown, so we ask: what can we do to empower cultural heritage practitioners to create change in their information systems?

In the Design for Diversity project, we developed a prototype Toolkit website to share the methods and resources that support change. We focused on ways of sharing knowledge that have high potential for impact, in either the classroom or workplace: case studies sharing practical, insider knowledge that doesn’t often surface in traditional professional publications, and study paths combining readings and case studies with a learning activity for even more engagement with the topic. These case studies and study paths, created specifically for the Design for Diversity project, are collected with additional pointers to exemplary readings and projects in our online Toolkit.

We are particularly excited by the chance to present the Toolkit to an audience of museum practitioners. While we have been fortunate to have the engagement and participation of museum practitioners throughout the project, the core project team does not include members from the museum field. We think input from those in the museum world is vital, so greatly appreciate this chance to present our project for constructive criticism.

[1] Turner, Hannah. 2015. “Decolonizing Ethnographic Documentation: A Critical History of the Early Museum Catalogs at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 53 (5–6): 658–76.

[2] Tomren, Holly. 2003. “Classification, Bias, and American Indian Materials.” San Jose State University, San Jose, California: AILA Subject Access and Classification Committee.