Allyship in Cataloging

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In recent years, the cataloging community has been grappling with the ethics surrounding our descriptive standards and best practices. Some of this introspection includes questioning and challenging our preconceived notions around not only the description of material, but also our controlled vocabularies and the inherent bias embedded in them. This class will discuss some guiding principles for cataloging material by and about marginalized groups and also discuss some current trends and documents in the field, including the Cataloger's Code of Ethics. We’ll also walk through some examples of cataloging and creating authority records for people from the LGBTQIA+ community.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this class, students will be able to:

1. Understand some of the ethical considerations in cataloging work.
2. Understand ethics around creating authority records.
3. Understand the responsibilities catalogers have to do better.
4. Know resources for changing subject headings in Library of Congress Subject Headings.
5. Know resources for editing and creating authority records in the Library of Congress Name Authority File.
6. Know about alternative vocabularies and places to learn more about this topic.


Nicole Smeltekop is the Special Materials Catalog Librarian at Michigan State University Libraries, a role she has held since 2014. She primarily catalogs posters, manuscripts, and other special formats held by the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections within MSU Libraries. Nicole also contributes to the Libraries’ digital repository by transforming metadata from various sources into standards-compliant MODS and Dublin Core. Prior to her time at MSU, she was an archivist for a small liberal arts college in rural Michigan . She attended Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science and Michigan State University. Outside of work, she spends her time playing tennis, practicing yoga, reading, and raising her daughter.

Eli Landaverde is the Special Collections LGBTQ+ Librarian at Michigan State University Libraries. As part of their role in Special Collections, they curate, process, oversee, and promote the LGBTQ+ collection. Since 2018, they have led a web archiving initiative for Special Collections. Prior to joining MSU, Eli worked at the Oriental Institute, and the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago. They also spent time volunteering at photography archives, first at the Penn Museum Archives in Philadelphia, and later at the Oriental Institute’s Research Archives. Eli received their MLIS degree from Drexel University and Bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies from Bryn Mawr College.

State library and/or archives agency; Network/consortia; Public library; Academic library: 4 year and graduate; Special Library; Museum; Academic library: 2 year; Government library; K-12 library; Archives; Historical Society / Site; Special Collections
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