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Wednesday, May 25 • 10:00am - 10:50am
3B: Bias in Online Library Collections Searches

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The main issue of this one hour workshop will be biases in library digital collection catalog searches. I will begin by analyzing the Harry Ransom Center’s digital collections within the context of critical archival studies, critical Internet studies, critical race studies, and search engine studies. My aim is to identify how the "search" function of these collections operates, and determine how well it provides relevant results for searches about identity. This study is modeled on Safiya Noble’s Google searches in her book Algorithms of Oppression. I conclude that the “search feature” is limited in yielding relevant results, and furthermore, that the digital images in the database are not labeled in a manner to yield more desirable results. This research contributes to several of the efforts described in the HRC's Diversity Action Plan, and I hope will provide actionable recommendations to increase the accessibility, inclusivity, and representation of the HRC's collections and the way they are described online. To that end, I want to open the conversation to workshop participants and their experiences with searching library catalogs in an effort to brainstorm changes that can be made to these catalogs. No prior knowledge or experience is required, but attendees will be encouraged to try some searches of their own either before or during the workshop.

avatar for Diane López

Diane López




University of Texas-Austin

Wednesday May 25, 2022 10:00am - 10:50am CDT