Content Warnings and Harmful Language Statements: Embedding empathy in the research process

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Main contributors
McLaughlin, Brianna; Hardesty, Juliet L.
There are no current archival standards for remediating harmful language/content in archival materials. For this reason, Digital Collections Services (DCS) prepared a harmful language statement and reporting system for the Libraries’ digital archival and special collections. Taking an active role in managing archival collections allows users to engage with the Libraries about potentially harmful language/content. In this statement, we connect users to collection policies and campus-wide efforts to mitigate white supremacy and similarly biased views. While a harmful language statement is an important step to provide context for archival materials, we also wanted to commit to an ongoing workflow inspiring discourse with the communities we serve and center those communities who have been marginalized and underserved by our library practices. We created a Qualtrics form linked from the DCS website as well as collection and item level description where applicable. Users can anonymously report offensive language or content. Our hope is that users feel empowered to contribute to and request change in our digital collections. DCS assigns the report ticket to the appropriate collection manager who determines how to address the reported issue. Data collected from the reporting forms can be used to address current description practices as well as inform future description. For example, reporting offensive content could result in adding a content warning where users would encounter the reported item. We hope that opening communication will strengthen collection description, supplement ongoing anti-racist description practices, and bolster a more conscientious relationship between users and collection managers.
Indiana University Digital Collections Services
Digital Library Brown Bag Series
IUScholarWorks Repository
Related Item
IUScholarWorks Record 

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