Harmful language statement

The University of York Library provides access to a great variety of teaching and research material, with some collections reflecting the language and values of their period. As such, it is not uncommon to encounter collection material that can be uncomfortable, including collections containing offensive language or imagery, outmoded or disrespectful terminology, or evidence of insensitive or discriminatory views. As part of its commitment to understanding our history, the Library continues to work to make this material available for teaching and research, in some cases choosing to preserve outmoded language where it is necessary to facilitate discovery and retrieval.

Following standard professional practice, the collections are described using controlled vocabularies and thesauri, mainly the Library of Congress Subject Headings. While the official bodies are reviewing and updating the terminology used, outdated and harmful vocabulary might still be present in our catalogues. 

We are implementing internal practices to address offensive language as part of routine description work, and we welcome your feedback on any improvements we can make. Please email us at lib-enquiry@york.ac.uk or use the ‘report a problem’ option in the library catalogue. 

For more information about developing and managing our collections, please consult our collections management and development policy.

The University of York Library is committed to upholding the principle of equal and free access to unaltered information and supports the University’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion ideals reflected in the university’s website.