Using the Homosaurus as a Tool for Reparative Description and Community Building with Queer Collections
From Meredith Hale
This panel convenes presenters from cultural heritage organizations of different sizes and scopes who have been exploring the Homosaurus controlled vocabulary as a means of describing and improving access to LGBTQIA+ collections. The Homosaurus is an international linked data vocabulary that supports the discovery of LGBTQIA+ materials in GLAM institutions; its development is overseen by an Editorial Board of metadata and LGBTQIA+ studies experts along with its broad user community. Standard subject vocabularies like the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) provide language for LGBTQIA+ topics that can be inadequate, inaccurate, or even offensive, reinforcing dominant heterosexual, cisgender, white, male, Christian and western perspectives. For this reason, all of the presenters felt that using the Homosaurus was necessary. Furthermore, the inclusion of Homosaurus terms alongside LCSH terms allows users to think critically about the act of classification and how it functions simultaneously as a tool of representation and of exclusion. Presenter 1, working at a large academic library, collaborated with colleagues to use the Homosaurus to describe a collection of LGBTQIA+ periodicals and ephemera, a collection that covers a wide range of subjects related to marginalized queer communities, the body, and sexuality. The Homosaurus allowed Presenter 1 and their colleagues to reflect the perspectives of LGBTQIA+ creators and researchers via MARC catalog records. The presenter will also discuss collaboration with IT staff to make the vocabulary more visible in the online catalog and efforts to educate fellow metadata and public services staff about the vocabulary so that it can be used more broadly across the library. Presenter 2 is the archive manager of a small, digitized magazine collection stewarded by an LGBTQIA+ foundation. In mapping the archive from RealView Partica onto the archival publication platform Bondi, the Homosaurus vocabulary is being utilized to write metadata, describing and tagging the collection. The collection contains 220 digitized copies of a printed lesbian lifestyle periodical which ran for thirty years. It is also housed within the Archives of Sexuality and Gender and we hope to collaborate with their staff to integrate Homosaurus into the collection's subject descriptions. Homosaurus has allowed Presenter 2 to increase access points to the collection, as well as further the documentation and representation of LGBTQIA+ people within the realm of periodical archives. Presenter 3 works for a large public university and has helped to coordinate the implementation of the Homosaurus vocabulary in conjunction with larger conscious editing and reparative metadata efforts over the past two years. Their library holds both archival and print LGBTQIA+ collections, including personal and professional papers and traditionally published monographs, underground and independently printed publications, erotica, ephemera, and young adult books. The Homosaurus has been used a training vehicle for undergraduate and graduate interns, as well as a best practices model for metadata across MARC cataloging, archival description and classification, and digital collections in order to increase representation of identities, discoverability of materials for researchers, and as a way for patrons to engage with and request LGBTQIA+ materials in a more private and affirming manner. This recording is made available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).