Advancing IDEAs: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, 10 June 2024

The following post is one in a regular series on issues of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility, compiled by a team of OCLC contributors.

Knowledge equity, and the role of ontologies 

A purple petunia growing between the cracks of a sidewalk.
Photo by Ted Balmer on Unsplash

Wikimedia Deutschland (WMDE) shared key findings from their Knowledge Equity in Linked Open Data project. They discovered that while Wikidata has immense potential for sharing knowledge, it still carries over structural and historical inequities from Wikipedia. The project involved community members working with marginalized knowledge, who faced challenges fitting their knowledge into Wikidata’s Western, academic perspectives. As a result, these communities have started building their own knowledge graphs, finding a sense of freedom and safety in expressing knowledge that reflects their needs. However, the report highlights high barriers to developing the necessary expertise due to scattered documentation and limited technical support. Additionally, the lack of mobile-friendly interfaces further hinders access for marginalized communities who heavily rely on mobile internet. 

Last month we wrote about OCLC Research’s engagement with the community around the WorldCat ontology. Findings in the WMDE report from align well with what we learned, which is that library-based ontologies can exclude other worldviews. In Wikidata, this has led communities to create focused ontologies that represent marginalized knowledge in ways that reflect community epistemologies. It would be useful for those of us working to reimagine descriptive workflows to consider the barriers identified in this report.  Contributed by Richard J. Urban. 

Houston’s LGBTQ history in radio archives 

A piece from NPR’s Morning Edition, Saving Houston’s LGBTQ history through thousands of hours of radio archives, highlights the important role of audio-visual collections in documenting culture and history. As is so often the case, a group of dedicated community members kept and safeguarded the fragile cassette recordings for over thirty years, when they were painstakingly digitized by University of Houston archivists Emily Vinson and Bethany Scott.  

As we kick off Pride month in the US, this story helps to illuminate the important role of radio, and how it is not only a vital medium for communities but also plays a vital role in reflecting history and experiences. The piece also gives some insight into how difficult it is to migrate delicate audiovisual formats to digital before it is too late. (As a sidenote, Vinson also presented on her work with A/V backlogs in a 2020 Works in Progress Webinar: Approaches to Processing Audiovisual Archives for Improved Access and Preservation Planning. Contributed by Merrilee Proffitt

Patterns in library censorship 

In recent weeks, former librarian Kelly Jensen of Book Riot, someone who always tracks the pulse of censorship in the United States, has written a series of pieces doing exactly that.  Each one deserves to be read and absorbed.  In “Are Librarians Criminals?  These Bills Would Make Them So: Book Censorship News, May 3, 2024,” Jensen looks at some of the anti-library — and anti-librarian — legislation under consideration or enacted in eighteen states. “Here’s Where Library Workers are Prohibited From Their Own Professional Organization: Book Censorship News, May 24, 2024,” highlights the bills that seek to keep library workers from becoming part of the American Library Association.  Because ALA is the organization that accredits library and information studies programs across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, among many other things, these anti-ALA efforts threaten to deprofessionalize library work.  Lest you fear that it’s all bad news, Jensen also tells “How Alabama Library Supporters Took Action and You Can, Too: Book Censorship News, June 7, 2024,” and the story that “Colorado Passes Anti-Book Ban Bill for Public Libraries.” 

The insightful and vital work of Kelly Jensen has been noted in “Advancing IDEAs” on16 April 2024, “Book censorship in academic, public, and school libraries,” on 7 March 2023, “During comic book challenges.”  Her invaluable “Book Censorship News” series notwithstanding, she also shares happier themes, especially regarding Young Adult literature, gifts for the bookish, leisure reading suggestions, and other stuff for those who love books and libraries.  Contributed by Jay Weitz. 

FAIR + CARE survey: establishing current data practices  

The FAIR + CARE Cultural Heritage Network is a new project with the aim to develop, disseminate, and promote ethical good practice guidance and digital data governance models integrating FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) Data with CARE (Collective benefit, Authority to control, Responsibility, and Ethics) Principles for Indigenous Data Governance. The FAIR+CARE network aims to reconcile the principles of both standards for future incorporation into data governance models that are both socially and technically compliant and compassionate, with a focus on data related to Indigenous and other descendant communities. In 2021, Hanging Together reported on an event hosted by the OCLC RLP and the National and State Libraries Australia (NSLA) on the CARE Principles.   

A project survey is open until 30 June 2024 and and invites respondents to share their collection, management, preservation, curation, sharing and storage of cultural information practices to gather a landscape of what the field is currently doing.  

The FAIR+CARE principles are valuable for cultural heritage and cultural resources manager. They are equally valuable for libraries, archives and museums that hold cultural heritage objects and information about them as we navigate the world when data reuse and social and cultural expectations are growing, and sometimes conflict. Better guidance for all cultural information professionals is sorely needed to be respectful and transparent in their practice now and into the future. Contributed by Lesley A. Langa 

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