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Decolonizing Description

The community of libraries using Sitka’s Evergreen Integrated Library System, and Sitka’s hosting organization, the BC Libraries Cooperative, are committed to advancing meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples by removing terminology in the shared catalogue descriptive metadata that is racist, harmful, outdated and culturally biased and replacing it with respectful language.

In Spring of 2019, members of the Sitka Business Function Group (SBFG) began discussions to explore decolonizing descriptive practice in Sitka’s shared database in response to recommendations of the CFLA-FCAB Truth and Reconciliation Report.

A Cataloguing Working Group (CWG) formed in early 2020 and Terms of Reference were developed to scope the group’s goals. Initial work of the CWG included identifying and engaging with key resources to inform and support the work of the committee and to increase awareness of this initiative in the wider Sitka community.

2020 Summary Report

Since early 2022, a subset of the CWG has been investigating approaches and principles to advance this work.

2022 Summary Report

2024 Summary Report

The CWG has put together a statement  on decolonizing description that can be used by member libraries with their staff and patrons.

Statement on Decolonizing Description in Sitka’s Evergreen – for member libraries

The CWG is continuing to review approaches to advance the work of decolonizing and indigenizing description in Sitka’s shared catalogue. In addition to traditional library controlled vocabularies such as Library of Congress Subject Headings and Canadian Subject Headings, the CWG is also closely monitoring initiatives such as NIKLA’s platform for Respectful Terminology, an Indigenous-led ‘’open and online platform that will enable a dynamic, multilingual set of terminologies applied to Indigenous Peoples, places, heritage, tradition, knowledge and culture… [which] would replace outdated and inappropriate terminologies used currently in cultural memory sectors such as museums, libraries, archives centers and galleries.’’

Scope of Sitka Consortium

Sitka’s Consortial Evergreen Integrated Library System is used by over 100 multitype libraries at about 210 locations, serving nearly 900,000 registered users primarily in British Columbia and Manitoba. Over 70% of public libraries in BC and over 50% of public libraries in Manitoba participate in Sitka’s Evergreen, as well as 14 public or private post-secondary libraries, six childcare resource/literacy centres, and several government, school, museum and specialized libraries. The geographic area represented by Sitka’s membership is inhabited by over 250 First Nations and nearly 400,000 Indigenous Peoples. Given the scale, diversity and complexity of Sitka’s membership and service area, the CWG is collaboratively and carefully approaching this work.