Introduction to Conscious Editing Series

Do you have concerns about the quality of your metadata? Are you wondering about how to update outdated descriptive information to create equitable, anti-oppressive, and inclusive discoverability?

The Sunshine State Digital Network is excited to announce a three-part series to introduce the practice of conscious and reparative metadata editing to information and cultural heritage professionals in Florida.

Librarians and archivists have begun to actively focus on making sure materials are described in a way that respects the diverse backgrounds and experiences of both historical subjects and contemporary researchers. Traditional cataloging and archival description often excluded figures deemed “unimportant,” making it almost impossible to research marginalized people, hiding the richness of the historical record and alienating communities who can’t see themselves in our collections.

Part 1

Part 1 will be held on Wednesday, October 7 from 3:00-4:00 PM EDT. Led by Dorothy Berry, this presentation will provide an overview of some emerging issues in conscious editing for digital collections description, forming a foundation for future projects to re-examine past practices.

Dorothy Berry is currently the inaugural Digital Collections Program Manager at Houghton Library, Harvard University, where she oversees both large scale-digitization and the creation of new scans serving patron research needs. Following an MLS, and an MA in Ethnomusicology, both from Indiana University, she has built a career focused on improving access to African American cultural heritage materials and primary sources relating the Black History, through enhanced description and improved digital discovery.

Recording: and Slides:

Part 2

Parts 2 and 3 of this series will build on the concepts from part 1 and provide case studies and hands-on exercises.

Part 2 will be held on Monday, November 2, 1:30-3:00 PM EST and will feature panelists from institutions who have been incorporating these practices into their digital library and finding aid descriptions. They will provide practical ways that these practices can be integrated into workflows at institutions of all sizes and types.

Panelists include:

  • Kelly Bolding, Project Archivist for Americana Manuscript Collections at Princeton University and co-author of the Anti-Racist Description Resources from the Archives for Black Lives in Philadelphia.
  • Laura Hart, Technical Services Archivist at UNC Chapel Hill and co-chair of the UNC Libraries’ Conscious Editing Steering Committee.
  • Meghan Rinn, Archivist and Cataloger for the Bridgeport History Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut and a leader in the practice of reparative editing for disability description in archives.
  • Holly Smith, College Archivist at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and a leader in community-building around digital libraries and archives.

Recording: Google folder including slides, video transcript, and chat transcript:

Part 3

Part 3 will be held, Wednesday, December 2, 1:30-3:00 PM EST. This workshop will be facilitated by three librarians and archivists experienced in applying them in practice at their institutions.

Part 3 Facilitators:

Itza A. Carbajal is a doctoral student at the University of Washington School of Information focusing her research on children and their records. Previously, she worked as the Latin American Metadata Librarian for post-custodial projects at LLILAS Benson. She received a Master of Science in Information Studies and a dual-degree Bachelor of Arts in History and English with a concentration on creative writing and legal studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio. More information:

Betts Coup is a Processing Archivist at Houghton Library, Harvard University, where she processes mainly backlogged materials as well as some newly accessioned collections. With an MA from New York University in the History of Art and Architecture and MLIS from Simmons University, she has focused her career on the development of accurate, conscientious archival description and the researchers use it, most recently completing a yearlong user study of finding aid content. Betts is also the current senior co-chair of the Society of American Archivists Encoded Archival Standards Steering Committee and is an adjunct at Simmons University, teaching the foundational course on archival description and access.

Jessica Tai is the Resident Processing Archivist at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University. She currently chairs Yale’s Reparative Archival Description Task Force, which was formed in response to euphemistic, oppressive, outdated, and harmful language in Yale’s archival description. The task force’s charge is to devise and test a workflow for remediating existing description, and providing guidelines for creating anti-oppressive description in the future.

Participation in part three of our series will be limited to 100 participants. 30 minutes of the 90-minute session will be dedicated to 3 breakout rooms on specific topics. You will be asked to select one breakout room upon registration. Breakout rooms will be limited to no more than 35 participants to facilitate engagement with the topics.

Recordings from the main session and breakout sessions will be made available on YouTube after the workshop.

Part 3 Breakout Session Topics

Option 1: Led by Jessica Tai. This breakout room will focus on developing local preferred terminology resources for undertaking redescription, and formulating anti-oppressive archival description practices. We will touch on identifying potential collaborators, and designing equitable, mutually beneficial relationships with community stakeholders. We will review the steps required to reach those outside your traditional patron base to promote project outcomes, make re-described collections visible, and solicit feedback.

Option 2: Led by Itza Carbajal. This breakout session will focus on approaches to getting a (re)description project started. Participants will learn about and discuss tips on project scoping, identifying partners, defining project goals and expectations, developing timelines, and outlining principles and expectations from the project and participating parties.

Option 3: Led by Betts Coup. This break-out room discussion will focus on issues around advocating for time, resources, and labor to do conscious and inclusive editing and description. This is an opportunity for participants to ask questions about advocacy, getting buy-in from leadership for this work, and how to communicate about the goals and benefits of conscious and inclusive description.

We hope you will join us for this timely series. Please direct any questions to Keila Zayas Ruiz, SSDN Coordinator at

Part 1 of this training is funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Florida’s LSTA program is administered by the Department of State’s Division of Library and Information Services. For FY2020-21, the percentage of total costs for the program, Meetings of Florida Library Staff, financed with federal money is 82%; the federal dollar amount to be spent on the program is $49,776. This program is partially financed by non-governmental funds in the amount of $11,182, which is 18% of the total project cost.


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