What I seem to have come up with from these readings this week are a set of classification schemes and controlled vocabularies that have been used over the years to augment or replace DDC, LCC, and LCSH to make collections in libraries and archives more inclusive and combat bias – the racism and sexism and exclusionary “norm” view that is part of these “mainstream” systems.
I’m trying to figure out what to do next. I will be working with a student this summer and before that I will be discussing bias in metadata in a brown bag presentation. I want to understand the landscape for the brown bag and I think I am getting there. I also want to have something concrete for the student to work on. The list of classification schemes and controlled vocabularies is incomplete and there are a couple of meta-lists I have found (LOC has one and Bartoc is another) so those need to be reviewed. I don’t think these meta-lists cover everything in terms of controlled vocabularies representing communities, especially from that community’s point of view, but having that as an output could prove to be really useful more generally in the library community.
Beyond that is this concept I have of trying out something to see if bias can be combatted through the front end search interface in addition to the backend where the metadata is created. There seem to be some possibilities with this using Homosaurus. It is a Linked Data source and the example of its use in IHLIA’s search interface is intriguing to me.
I’m also interested in Olson’s work to connect a controlled vocabulary like that in A Women’s Thesaurus to a “mainstream” source like DDC. If Homosaurus can be connected in some way to LCSH terms (and that is a big if that still needs to be investigated), is there utility in offering that as an entryway resource for searching, to help users connect to items that already have records using only LCSH terms? Olson and Ward created the standalone search application for seeing connections between those 2 sources but I haven’t seen anything about if it was ever implemented for research use in an online system. If there isn’t an equivalent or close term in the mainstream source, then there isn’t much point in connecting a controlled vocab term since it would end up lumping into a mainstream category that is too broad or not connecting to anything. But if there are connections, are they helpful to provide as a different view into a collection?
I’m ending this research leave with a lot of questions and I knew I would, but I think I do have a better handle on how to talk about the problem of non-inclusive or exclusionary online research tools and collections. Additionally and more importantly for the topic of bias in metadata, I have a better sense of what has occurred already in efforts to combat that marginalization and make the research process more inclusive through constructing new or modifying current classification schemes and controlled vocabularies.