Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version


Document Type



Nowak, K. & Mitchell, A.J. (2016). Classifying identity: Organizing an LGBT library.


Although we tend to see classification as a socially and morally neutral activity, classification systems often incorporate societal prejudices and marginalize disadvantaged populations. These systematic prejudices are not only problematic because they are oppressive, but they also impair successful information access. In this paper, we will discuss our work as librarians at the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO), a pride center in Lexington, Kentucky. We will discuss the problems that resulted from initially using Library of Congress classification to classify a library of LGBT materials, as well as our decision to create a unique classification system for that collection. The process of creating a new system was complex, and we encountered many challenges in determining the structure and priority of concepts. However, we felt that we were able to create a system that was better able to serve our users. We will argue that the standard classification systems libraries use are diverging from new knowledge, particularly in LGBT studies, and that the library profession will ultimately have to address these structural problems in order to continue to support our users and the progression of knowledge.