Statement on Potentially Harmful Language in Collections, Cataloging and Description

Brandeis University was founded on the principles of social justice and equality and the Brandeis Library has been a cornerstone for that vision. The Brandeis Library makes an impact across our community by fostering research, teaching, and discovery, and by providing professional services, resources, experience, and expertise.

Libraries and archives collect materials from different cultures and time periods to preserve and make available the historical and scholarly record. As a result, the Brandeis Library's collections may contain materials that our community could find offensive and/or harmful.

The Brandeis Library recognizes that description is not neutral, nor are the individuals who create these descriptions. With that in mind, the Brandeis Library aims to describe its materials and collections in a manner that is respectful to individuals and communities who use our resources. However, for a number of reasons, users may encounter offensive or harmful language in descriptions of works in the main collection and archival collections may contain historical language that is harmful—for example, language that is racist, sexist, or homophobic.

If you encounter language in our catalog records, digital object metadata, or elsewhere that you find offensive or harmful, we welcome your feedback, questions, or concerns. Please contact us at metadata@brandeis.edu. Staff will review the description and update it in a way that balances the preservation of original context with an awareness of the effect of language on our users. Revisions may include providing additional context and/or replacing problematic terminology. 

This statement was adapted from those of Folger Shakespeare Library and Princeton University Library. It was last updated on 2021-08-11.

Additional Resources

Brandeis University's Anti-Racism Plan

Brandeis University Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion