I am starting a new research leave! I am using this leave time to learn about bias in metadata and how that impacts inclusivity in the research process. I have a lot to learn.
I have already encountered excellent classification schemes and controlled vocabularies outside of Library of Congress and Dewey systems that provide better representation and definition for marginalized and underrepresented communities and I expect I will learn about more. I am also, however, taking some steps back and considering who I am in the larger societal system as it is currently functioning. That is a big undertaking and, at the same time, so completely necessary as to be a fundamental underpinning to all of this research.
I have library system and information retrieval specific readings that will inform my specific research topic. I also have readings that I hope are helping me understand more about myself and my experience, the mix of social constructs and facts about who I am (race, gender, sexual orientation, able-bodiedness, where and when I am from) that describe my experience in the world. My experience makes a difference in how I understand issues such as racism and sexism that support the power structures that create the current system where researchers are not able to find the resources they need or engage with collections effectively due to biased metadata and far too limited controlled vocabularies.
If I can recognize and understand where I am positioned in this system and what that means, I am hopeful I will find that I can amplify the work that has already been done and challenge academic libraries and the systems they use to be more inclusive in support of researcher needs.
That’s a lot to understand, learn about, and find the words to express well. I don’t think I have the best capacity for expression right now but I aim to improve my ability to write and speak clearly about how vital it is that information retrieval becomes more inclusive.