Gleeson Library | Geschke Center and Zief Law Library have adopted a Harmful Language Statement to acknowledge and address harmful language present in our collection descriptions and collection materials. We join a growing group of libraries, archives and institutions who are also doing this anti-racist work.
About the Statement
Developing this guiding document, and following through on initiatives that stem from its principles, furthers the mission of the University of San Francisco: “to promote the common good by critically, thoughtfully, and innovatively addressing inequities to create a more humane and just world…nurturing a diverse, ever-expanding community where persons of all races and ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, genders, generations, abilities, nationalities, occupations, and socioeconomic backgrounds are honored and accompanied”. To honor and accompany our community with our library collections and to make sure marginalized groups are represented as we grow our collection, we are guided by the library’s Collection Diversity Statement adopted in 2021. To build on this, we need our materials described in ways that are informative and respectful to all who create, use, and are represented within the collections as defined in the Harmful Language Statement.
The Reparative and Inclusive Description (RID) Working Group, convened in 2021, engaged in several months reading and studying before beginning to write the Harmful Language Statement. The statement went through a thorough revision and review process from the Gleeson Library Leadership Team and Library departments as well as Zief Law Library. It was approved by both libraries and posted in the Fall of 2022.
The goals of the Harmful Language Statement are: to acknowledge that harmful language exists in our collection descriptions and materials, to let our community know we are aware and working to to remediate the harmful language when possible; and to advocate for change in descriptive principles and practices. Further, we wanted the community to understand why the content is present, what projects we are working on, and how the community could get involved including a place to report harmful language, when it is encountered.
We Want to Hear From You
We welcome your involvement and support of Gleeson Library in this work beyond just reporting harmful language. We would also like to hear from faculty and staff about any related work or resources you think might be helpful. For example, Communication Studies professor Evelyn Y. Ho’s article We Don’t Say That Word Out Loud provides techniques for Language and Social Interaction courses where “instructors can foster deliberative reflection/co-orientation about classroom interaction that considers whether the use of difficult data can help students develop analysis-informed praxis”.
There is potential for including the Harmful Language Statement and the library’s supporting resources in your teaching and research. Please reach out to your department’s library liaison or a member of the RID Working Group to learn more about collaborating in this area.