Acknowledgement of Bias in Library + Archives Descriptive Language



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BC Libraries Cooperative: Notification of Privacy Breach - On April 25, 2024, the BC Libraries Cooperative notified Emily Carr University (ECU) that the organization had experienced a cybersecurity attack, resulting in a privacy breach. The attack impacted the Cooperative’s Integrated Library System (ILS), which provides the ECU Library with various services such as support for managing, cataloguing, and circulating library materials.

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The Library + Archives at Emily Carr University of Art + Design aims to create records – including archival descriptions, finding aids, library catalogue records and other metadata – that are inclusive, respectful and do not cause harm to those who interact with our collections. This includes those who create, use, and are represented in the collections we care for. We acknowledge that our existing descriptions and records may contain language that is racist, colonial, homophobic, ableist, or that uses other offensive terms that may cause harm. This language may reflect original titles or terms applied by the creators/authors. It may also have been created by previous stewards or ECU staff since acquisition.

Certain parts of the ECU collection contain historical language and content, for example, language used to refer to racial and cultural groups. This language reflects the time period in which these materials were created and provide insight into the view of their creator(s). These items retain their original descriptions to ensure that attitudes and viewpoints are not erased from the historical record. When possible, ECU provides additional descriptive information to provide context and background about these records. Additionally, the ECU Library + Archives questions the hierarchical and othering language promoted through subject terms and is working to update and implement terminology that promotes inclusive and accurate access to materials.

The ECU Library + Archives team is dedicated to minimizing harm through continual reflection and reparations in our language and systems. Reparative archival description and cataloguing is iterative work, and descriptive language preferences and needs will change over time. New and ongoing work in this area is indicated in our archival finding aids through the use of square brackets indicating the archivists/staff voice and through descriptive notes in the library catalogue and archives database.

We welcome feedback from our patrons regarding archival description and library catalogue records by email at, in person or by phone at 604-844-3840. Feel free to leave us an anonymous voicemail.

* ECU Library + Archives is grateful to the following organizations who have crafted meaningful bias statements. We echo their thinking and work, and have borrowed language and built upon their words and efforts.

Yale University
Duke University
Library + Archives Canada
Stanford University Libraries

(May 2022)