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Advancing racial equity our core values

OCLC is committed to advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion

OCLC® reflects the shared expectations of libraries around the world. Our founders infused the organization with a strong sense of public purpose and librarian values, including equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).

Many of our customers and partners are engaged in initiatives for the betterment of their communities and users. We’re on a similar path and will use our platform and resources to support, elevate, and amplify that work.

We’re exploring how systemic barriers to inclusion have created and perpetuate harm. And we’re activating community discussions that identify how organizations like OCLC can contribute to more equitable and inclusive libraries and librarianship.

We commit to continually evaluating and calibrating our practices and policies. In this way, our culture and services will reflect our purpose and values and help build a future that’s better for all.

Making our values known

“OCLC stands in solidarity with our libraries and the communities they serve to oppose systemic racism and injustice.”

Skip Prichard President and Chief Executive Officer, OCLC

Read more about OCLC’s commitment to social justice on the Next blog

Our workplace culture and values

We believe in the dignity and worth of every individual. We know that diverse and inclusive teams drive creativity and innovation. For many years, OCLC has lived out these values through human resource practices as well as through our products and services. In 2020, Skip Prichard, OCLC's President and Chief Executive Officer, called for the formation of an internal working group to advise and guide OCLC’s efforts to advance racial equity.

  • Fellowships, scholarships, and sponsorships for librarians from underrepresented groups
  • Domestic partner benefits and pride recognition
  • Cultural heritage celebrations
  • Diverse workforce representation goals in manager compensation packages
  • Ongoing employee training on equity, diversity, racial bias, and inclusion

Using our technology and resources to advance racial equity

The “Reimagine Descriptive Workflows” project convened a group of experts, practitioners, and community members to determine ways to improve descriptive practices, tools, workflows, and related underlying infrastructures in libraries and archives. The resulting community agenda synthesizes their findings and contextualizes the challenges facing the library and information field in inclusive and reparative metadata work. It also suggests actions and exercises that can help frame institutions’ local priorities and areas for change.

 

In 2021, we established the visiting editor-in-residence program focused on ensuring a representative, multiculturally relevant Dewey Decimal Classification® (DDC®) for users worldwide. Our first visiting editor, Kelly West, is contributing her expertise to reduce systematic bias embedded in the DDC by updating terminology for groups of people. The program will continue and also address terminology related to the names of Indigenous peoples and LGBTQ+ topics that are potentially offensive or harmful.

 

When updating WorldCat® records, we prioritize controlled headings changes related to equity issues, so that new terms appear in library catalogs quickly. In November 2021, the Library of Congress announced a Library of Congress Subject Heading (LCSH) change to “Noncitizen” and “Illegal immigration,” which we implemented within a few weeks. Because this divided one former LCSH into two, OCLC staff had to specially process approximately 44,000 records with a combination of automated scripts and manual changes. You can learn more by viewing a presentation on this work from the January 2022 OCLC Cataloging Community Meeting.

We’re working to provide more options for local controlled vocabulary features that are currently available in Syndeo® and CONTENTdm®. We’re also including more culturally specific subject headings, such as Ngā Upoko Tukutuku, or the Māori Subject Headings, in WorldCat, allowing for Indigenous content to be described using appropriate cultural contexts. Efforts are underway to add similar functionality to other cataloging and discovery services. For example, an option to display replacement terms in WorldCat Discovery results is in development and will be made available in the near future.

We are also working on eradicating insensitive terminology from services, product documentation, marketing collateral, and public web pages. For example, we now refer to “WorldCat records,” “digital originals,” and “base sets.” We are auditing other systems and terminology to ensure appropriate descriptions are reflected.

 

This project enables WorldCat to filter and facet content about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples—Australia’s first people—by extending language coding in MARC records to better facilitate ingest and discovery of records for resources that include these native languages. This will help to raise the visibility of the richness and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. The changes also have applications beyond Austlangs that will allow for significantly expanded language representation in WorldCat.

 

Responding to our members' needs

Illustration: Public library building

Public libraries

Through WebJunction, OCLC offers free webinars, trainings, and resources to help public library staff create a welcoming, inclusive environment that meets the needs of their diverse local communities. WebJunction has partnered with the nonprofit Legal Services Corporation to strengthen access to civil legal justice through public libraries, and the team is currently working with Washington State University to develop training for staff of tribal and rural libraries on community-centered curation of cultural collections.

View the WebJunction Access & Equity site


Enroll in WebJunction's free Access & Equity courses

Academic libraries

OCLC Research hosts a Distinguished Seminar Series that has focused on EDI topics since 2016 and our Research Library Partnership (RLP) hosts a webinar series, Works-in-Progress, that addresses EDI issues in academic libraries. The RLP is also increasing its programming that examines racial inequity as it relates to library operational workflows, like collection building and metadata practices.

View the OCLC Distinguished Seminar Series

Illustration: Academic library building
Illustration: Globe overlaid with speech bubble

Global conversations

We support a variety of resources to engage with library workers on these important issues. For example, the OCLC Global Council area of focus for 2022, “Libraries and open ecosystems,” includes a discussion on metadata challenges relative to institutional bias. WebJunction provides webinars and training on “access and equity” topics. And OCLC Research convenes conversations around issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) that cut across many areas of librarianship.

Learn more about the FY22 area of focus

Related reading

 

Charleston Syllabus

Find out how a group of scholars and librarians used WorldCat.org to share resources related to civil rights, African American issues, and the impact of history on today's culture.

 

OCLC Research Library Partnership Survey

Results and discussion of the 2017 RLP survey that was conducted to explore if and how the RLP’s 150 Partner Institutions were modifying library and archival collections, practices, and services through the lens of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

 

Hanging Together, the blog of OCLC Research

Read how OCLC Research supports academic libraries in addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion.