The Design for Diversity Toolkit: Inclusive Information Systems in Museums

Lightning Talk

Saturday, April 06, 2019: 9:30am - 11:00am - Grand Ballroom: Lightning Talks

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?

This lightning talk will present two resources from the Design for Diversity project, an IMLS-funded project exploring the strategies and resources needed to create more inclusive technical and information systems in libraries, archives, and museums. Through these case studies we will ask attendees to consider questions such as: How does your technical services team ensure your metadata is inclusive? Who is actually processing your collections, and how do you ensure their training takes inclusion into account? How do your vendor systems allow for cultural responsiveness, and how do they not? How do you determine what to put online and who your online audience is? How can you work with community partners through the entire digital lifecycle? We will show how these case studies and study paths can spark larger conversations about your in-house information systems and lead to change.

This lightning talk will highlight one case study (Honoring the Dead: A Digital Archive of the Insane Indian Asylum by Stacey Berry) and one study path (Comparing Curation Styles: Collections Descriptions Inside vs. Outside of Mukurtu by Sonoe Nakasone). By unpacking technical processes, we will find the points of impact where libraries, archives, and museums can make the decisions that will lead to more inclusive information systems.

Bibliography:
(1) For a selection of the extensive literature on bias in library, archives, and museum information systems, see: Clack, Doris Hargrett. 1978. “The Adequacy of Library of Congress Subject Headings for Black Literature Resources.” Library Resources and Technical Services 22 (2): 137–44. http://downloads.alcts.ala.org/lrts/lrtsv22no2.pdf ; Olson, Hope A., and Rose Schlegl. 2001. “Standardization, Objectivity, and User Focus: A Meta-Analysis of Subject Access Critiques.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 32 (2): 61. https://www-tandfonline-com.ezproxy.neu.edu/doi/abs/10.1300/J104v32n02_06 ; Bearman, David, and Jennifer Trant. 2005. “Social Terminology Enhancement through Vernacular Engagement: Exploring Collaborative Annotation to Encourage Interaction with Museum Collections.” D-Lib Magazine 11 (9). https://doi.org/10.1045/september2005-bearman ; Srinivasan, Ramesh, Katherine M. Becvar, Robin Boast, and Jim Enote. 2010. “Diverse Knowledges and Contact Zones within the Digital Museum.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 35 (5): 735–68. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243909357755 ; 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. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639374.2015.1010112

(2) Bourg, Chris. 2015. “Never Neutral: Libraries, Technology, and Inclusion.” Feral Librarian (blog). January 28, 2015. https://chrisbourg.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/never-neutral-libraries-technology-and-inclusion/.

(3) Lonetree, Amy. 2012. Decolonizing Museums: Representing Native America in National and Tribal Museums. First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

(4) 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. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639374.2015.1010112.

(5) Tomren, Holly. 2003. “Classification, Bias, and American Indian Materials.” San Jose State University, San Jose, California: AILA Subject Access and Classification Committee. http://ailasacc.pbworks.com/f/BiasClassification2004.pdf.