Lafayette Libraries Special Collections & College Archives acknowledges the language used to describe library materials is not neutral. As a repository of printed and manuscript collections intended to be consulted and used for educational purposes, we stand against bias and marginalization that often upholds and perpetuates forms of bias such as ableism, colonialism, misogyny, sexism, white supremacy, and the marginalization of sexual orientations and gender identities. One method we look to counter this is by addressing harmful language present in collection metadata. And we recognize the need for additional consideration on how to recognize inequities present in the language and practice of cataloging and archival description. A harmful language note has been drafted for inclusion in metadata for archival collections held at Lafayette College. Additionally, we are committed to efforts below.

Special Collections & College Archives commitment

  • Advocate for the elimination of oppression and bias embedded in national standards and metadata and support the use of alternative vocabularies in local and national metadata descriptions.
  • Review and remediate offensive or harmful language used in descriptions of resources where we as Special Collections & College Archives maintain agency to achieve change.
  • Work with community partners to help identify vocabulary in collection descriptions that causes harm and find replacement terminology.
  • Implement diverse and anti-racist collection development strategies.
  • Promote access to archives, rare books, and special collection materials in a way that supports and empowers new narratives by all researchers and users.

Harmful Language Note

Lafayette Libraries Special Collections & College Archives makes unique and historical materials accessible for study and research. These materials represent the context in which they were created and the perspectives of their creators, and may contain depictions of racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, homophobia, violence, and other challenging or offensive attitudes and actions. The materials do not reflect the values of Lafayette College or the Lafayette College Libraries. By providing access to these records, we acknowledge the role that archives play in learning from the past.

Metadata about archival collections may re-use language provided by creators on or within the resources themselves, in accordance with best practices for archival description. We strive to place outdated or offensive terminology in context through curation and critical descriptive information. We also welcome feedback from users so that we can learn and adjust our practices. Please contact us at if you encounter problematic language or would like to give feedback about descriptive information accompanying an item or collection.