Tag Archives: LCSH

Library of Congress to cancel the subject heading “Illegal aliens”

Janis Young of the Policy and Standards Division of the Library of Congress has announced a significant revision to LCSH terminology that has been the topic of a lot of discussion in the past and again more recently.

In response to constituent requests, the Policy and Standards Division of the Library of Congress, which maintains Library of Congress Subject Headings, has investigated the possibility of cancelling or revising the heading Illegal aliens. PSD also explored the possibility of revising the broader term Aliens. It concluded that the meaning of Aliens is often misunderstood and should be revised to Noncitizens, and that the phrase “illegal aliens” has become pejorative. The heading Illegal aliens will therefore be cancelled and replaced by two headings, Noncitizens and Unauthorized immigration, which may be assigned together to describe resources about people who illegally reside in a country.

 Other headings that include the word aliens or the phrase illegal aliens (e.g., Church work with aliens; Children of illegal aliens) will also be revised. All of the revisions will appear on a Tentative List and be approved no earlier than May 2016; the revision of existing bibliographic records will commence shortly thereafter.

 For background on the history and purpose of the headings Aliens and Illegal aliens, the rationale for the revisions to LCSH, and a description of the scope of the project, please see the full announcement on the LC website at http://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/illegal-aliens-decision.pdf.

 Questions or comments on these revisions may be directed to Libby Dechman (edec@loc.gov) in the Policy and Standards Division.

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