Harmful Language Statement

Statement on Harmful Language in Birmingham City University Library Search

Birmingham City University Library & Learning Resources acknowledges that there may be offensive and harmful language in Library Search. The act of collecting and describing materials is not neutral and is influenced by personal, institutional, and societal biases. Examples of this in our catalogue could include outdated subject headings, incorrect names for creators (e.g., if they have changed their name) and not respecting language conventions outside of English (e.g., using anglicised versions of words).

You may encounter harmful language in relation to the following:

  • Age
  • Gender 
  • Disability
  • Race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • Religion or belief
  • Sexual orientation
  • Class.

We are committed to implementing practices to address issues in the Library Search; actions include replacing the terminology used in Library Search where possible. Language and societal attitudes change over time, and we have a responsibility to describe and present resources in an inclusive and representative manner that reflects BCU’s values and the broader community we serve. We acknowledge that language and identities are fluid, and that our work requires an ongoing commitment and continual revision.

We have a responsibility to reflect the language used in the creator’s original work, so an offensive term may continue to appear in the catalogue, e.g., because it is used in the title of a book. Another factor to consider is that a third party may have supplied the information. Given the amount of data we receive it is not possible for us to review each individual record. Nevertheless, we will continue to consider how this language affects our users and what we can do mitigate any harm.

We welcome your feedback. If you see instances of offensive or harmful language while using Library Search, or would like to know more about how we make decisions about describing our resources, please get in touch or send feedback to cataloguing@bcu.ac.uk.