Journal of Critical Issues in Educational Practice


Academic Libraries; Collection Development; Classification of Books; Knowledge Organization


This paper traces the roots of the positivist epistemology of librarianship; its ideals of neutrality and access as they intersect in the classification and assignment of library subject headings; and the notion of the author as it relates to the creation of library authority files. By legitimizing their own professional neutrality, librarians have wielded tremendous power over what libraries collect as well as how those works are represented, but have done so with little self-reflection. The act of classifying works and assigning subject headings is not a neutral process. It is time for librarians to use new tools such as the RDA standards to hold academic libraries accountable for assessing their collections to ensure they represent the diversity of voices that comprise the full record and collective history of our culture.

Author Statement

Risa M. Lumley is the librarian at the Palm Desert Campus of California State University, San Bernardino and is pursuing a doctorate in Educational Leadership at CSUSB.