The Critical Catalog: Giving Voice to Diverse Library Materials through Provocative Design


  • Rachel Ivy Clarke Saracuse University
  • Sayward Schoonmaker Syracuse University



Diversity, Metadata, Knowledge Organization


Although laudable strides have been made to highlight and provide access to diverse library materials about and made by traditionally marginalized communities, current approaches are curatorial, non-scalable, and non-systematic. Using a critical design approach, we address how libraries might move beyond curatorial practices with the proposal of a “Critical Catalog” that advocates for diverse materials and discusses the problems and challenges of categorizing identity. The proposed provocative catalog offers the possibility to raise awareness of diverse library materials; expose readers to new and different resources, ideas and cultures; alter reading habits; and ultimately provide more equitable representation by preventing the inadvertent and unintentional erasure of diverse library materials, thus giving a stronger voice to marginalized communities.