Posted May 2022
The Dartmouth Library provides free, digital access to nearly 300,000 items from our collections — from classical texts to medieval manuscripts to scientific accounts to audiovisual materials. Our digital collections span several centuries of history, and items in these collections are a product of their time. Some items may be harmful or difficult to view because they are racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic, classist, or contain otherwise offensive or hateful views and opinions. The Dartmouth Library recognizes that making these materials widely available could potentially lead to their use in harmful ways. We also recognize that making these materials available opens them to historical critique. While we do not endorse or agree with the perspectives represented in these materials, we believe that a critical eye turned on the past creates insight that develops avenues for social change.
Our work to contextualize harmful materials is necessarily iterative, collaborative, and aspirational. Colleagues across the Dartmouth Library are actively working to contextualize these materials by:
- Listening to and working with people from misrepresented and underrepresented communities to develop appropriate terminology and metadata (see the Advancing Pathways Mellon Grant);
- Developing platforms for digital materials that alert users to potentially harmful content and provide mechanisms for feedback on material we have not identified as harmful;
- Connecting this work to a Library-wide commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice;
- Continually evaluating our collections development and cataloging policies (see, for example, the Change the Subject documentary project).