Event Title

Diversity at Scale: The Necessity of Integrating Social Justice into Technical Development

Event Type

Round Table Discussion

Start Date

23-7-2021 2:15 PM

End Date

July 2021

Description

With the increasing emphasis on digital access, platforms - such as DPLA, HathiTrust, and iDigBio - provide an opportunity to make materials available to a broader audience by aggregating materials from multiple libraries and archives into a single point of access. But just because something is online doesn’t mean that it’s actually accessible -- it needs to have accurate and relevant metadata. The history of libraries and archives means that materials related to marginalized communities are often poorly or incorrectly described, which means that they are difficult or impossible to find or understand, even when they are online.

Social justice and diversity tend to be seen as the domain of curators, subject-specialists, community librarians and archivists, and the like, while building platforms is seen as more of a technical endeavor. Viewing technical work apolitically, along with siloing institutions and LIS, can lead to the perpetuation of oppressive systems with digital infrastructure. For example, the additional care and labor that go into curating and providing context for topical collections often do not transfer well into aggregate platforms, re-silencing marginalized voices in the name of access.

However, the scale and scope of digital platforms also provide new opportunities for metadata assessment, remediation, and improvement and for creative ways to represent relationships between items and collections, allowing technological solutions to facilitate and build off of, rather than work against, existing social justice and diversity initiatives within libraries and archives. If libraries and archives are serious about their commitment to social justice, technical divisions within institutions need to understand and prioritize issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion as integral to their work.

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Jul 23rd, 2:15 PM Jul 23rd, 3:00 PM

Diversity at Scale: The Necessity of Integrating Social Justice into Technical Development

With the increasing emphasis on digital access, platforms - such as DPLA, HathiTrust, and iDigBio - provide an opportunity to make materials available to a broader audience by aggregating materials from multiple libraries and archives into a single point of access. But just because something is online doesn’t mean that it’s actually accessible -- it needs to have accurate and relevant metadata. The history of libraries and archives means that materials related to marginalized communities are often poorly or incorrectly described, which means that they are difficult or impossible to find or understand, even when they are online.

Social justice and diversity tend to be seen as the domain of curators, subject-specialists, community librarians and archivists, and the like, while building platforms is seen as more of a technical endeavor. Viewing technical work apolitically, along with siloing institutions and LIS, can lead to the perpetuation of oppressive systems with digital infrastructure. For example, the additional care and labor that go into curating and providing context for topical collections often do not transfer well into aggregate platforms, re-silencing marginalized voices in the name of access.

However, the scale and scope of digital platforms also provide new opportunities for metadata assessment, remediation, and improvement and for creative ways to represent relationships between items and collections, allowing technological solutions to facilitate and build off of, rather than work against, existing social justice and diversity initiatives within libraries and archives. If libraries and archives are serious about their commitment to social justice, technical divisions within institutions need to understand and prioritize issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion as integral to their work.