Queering the Library of Congress

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This poster will attempt to apply the techniques used in Queer Theory to explore library and information science’s use and misuse of library classification systems; and to examine how “queering” these philosophical categories can not only improve libraries, but also help change social constructs.

For millennia, philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, have used and expounded upon categories and systems of classification. Their purpose is to make research and the retrieval of information easier. Unfortunately, the rules used to categorize and catalog make information retrieval more challenging for some, due to social constructs such as heteronormality.

The importance of this paper lies in addressing the problem that many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) library users face when they search for information regarding their sexual identity at the library. For many, the library is a sanctuary where they can discover this information in secret without “outing” themselves. Unfortunately, antiquated cataloging rules, based on deep-rooted societal views, make research difficult. For instance, some libraries still catalog books on homosexuality and transsexualism under medical and psychological disorders and deviancies. The goal of this paper is to explore the possible benefits that “queering” LGBTQ subject headings will have on users, libraries, and academia.


This presentation was presented at the 2015 Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS) on August 14, 2015. Queering the Library of Congress focused on the religious and scientific origins of modern librarianship and subject classification. Moreover, it theorized how using Queer Theory could improve the Library Congress and make its classification system more inclusive. This presentation will be submitted as a book chapter later this year.

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