Week #5: Classification and Ethics

We are making the ethical choices of describing material in a way that is not only findable, but somewhat disassociating it from the narrative that was and continues to be associated with Watts ’65. As with anyone making decisions on the the manner in which something is classified there is no way in which to not be subjective and this is largely where the ethical questions come in. We must ensure that we do not encode the material in a way that is counterproductive to goal of the library. We can only strive to be very conscious that what we are doing is indeed placing an opinion or connotation on a work or material that will be made available to others and which will coincidentally be read a certain way because of how it has been labeled. This level of responsibility is daunting and I believe none of us what to misrepresent the community for which this material is largely being sourced for or perpetuate the negative and inaccurate narrative that is displayed in some of these works. An issue I run into then is describing the material that is an inaccurate or highly biased representation for how do I list what it is (for example an article describing Watts 65 as a senseless riot) without perpetuating that narrative? I sometimes feel as if a disclaimer is necessary and maybe tags could be implemented in this way. 

After our work is done I believe it is really important for the Southern California Library to review our progress and decide whether we were able to accomplish the goals of this project. I think that we as outsiders not only to the community, but to the day to day of the SCL we are only superficially able to gage what may be most appropriate or findable for the researchers that utilize their space. We have done a lot of reading not only on Watts, but on history, the power of narrative and the voices that are silenced, the manner in which one classifies information, archives material and how this can aid facilitating a counter history and that along with speakers and visits to the SCL have prepared us to approach this with a certain consciousness that we may not have otherwise had. Yet although we’ve come with the right intentions and a social justice awareness I still fear that it may not translate once the material and their classification is reviewed which is largely why I look to them to critique it. Are we being too cautious in our descriptions  as we were considering ethics, the needs of the SCL, the South LA community and researchers not affiliated to the library- should we have valued one of these more than the others, would that have made our descriptions and subject terms better and more attuned to the SCL’s goal as a library? I know we were all very apprehensive about representing the materials accurately and I still don’t know if this can be done for the material themselves aren’t always accurate representations of things that have happened, but with a comprehensive tagging system that makes that known and a controlled vocabulary I think we can a least create a foundation that will facilitate this. After that is reviewed we can then continue to implement that until it is established enough to have others work within that system as well. 

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