This case study analyzes the status of marked and unmarked binaries related to social identities in Library of Congress Subject Headings. The problem of bias in library classification and cataloging structures has been well documented and analyzed. Efforts to intervene in these systems have largely taken the form of advocating for different language or additional terms to name and reflect difference — e.g., the subject term “Gender non-conforming.” However, naming difference both makes assumptions about and further reinforces what is invisible and dominant — there is no subject heading for “Gender conforming.” Digital information organization that focuses on full and fair representation of non-dominant identities and works also leaves the non-dominant un-named and therefore uninterrogated.
This case study describes the development of a custom metadata schema to support the description of 65 educational videos used to help teach sign language. The creators of this special collection had specific access and discovery needs that were not served by standard vocabularies, and the custom schema developed methods to describe information like the pace of the interpreter’s fingerspelling, the language being signed, and how space is being used by the interpreter.