Statement on Language in Description

Princeton University Library aims to describe library materials in a manner that is respectful to the individuals and communities who create, use, and are represented in the collections we manage. However, for a variety of reasons, users may encounter offensive or harmful language, for example, language that is racist, sexist, or homophobic, in finding aids or catalog records. While some descriptions are written by staff, others reflect language that was used by the people and organizations that created the material. For example, it is standard practice to transcribe book titles, and to not change folder titles when they are present; these are entered as they are represented in the source material and are included for academic purposes. Language that comes from the original material can provide information about the people who created it. In such cases, the work of library staff is to provide additional context. When we encounter problematic language that was created by library staff, we update it. 

The Library is currently implementing practices to address offensive or harmful language as part of routine description work. In addition, we encourage users to provide feedback to help us tackle this issue. We recognize that terminology evolves over time and that efforts to create respectful and inclusive descriptions must be ongoing.

If you encounter problematic language, please submit feedback using the contact or feedback mechanism available on any page on the library’s website. You may also notify staff at any library location. Staff will review the description and update it in a way that balances the preservation of original context with an awareness of the effect of language on our users. Revisions may include providing additional context and/or replacing problematic terminology. We welcome your feedback.

PUL Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement