Knowledge Organization Systems and Information Ethics for Visual Resources

  • Devon Murphy University of Texas at Austin
Keywords: Indigenous information, critical cataloging, organization of information, cataloging


This article examines the diverse problems current visual resources workflows and other information systems pose for Native American/Indigenous cultural heritage materials, using the concept of the knowledge organization system as a unit of analysis. I assert that the information systems many United States-based GLAMs professionals use have colonial histories, built to assimilate or diminish Indigenous knowledge. These histories still have an impact on current protocols employed by cultural heritage institutions, through their use of inaccurate terms and rejection or failure to include Indigenous voices. The article analyzes several examples of Native and non-Native efforts to make meaningful changes by revising or combining various knowledge organization systems together, extending their implications for the visual resource and cultural heritage community. I then explore how professionals can use these concepts to better inform their own practices towards description, use, storage, and access for Native information. 

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