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Program for Cooperative Cataloging

The Library of Congress > Cataloging, Acquisitions > PCC > SACO > SACO Funnels > African American Subject Funnel Project

List of Members and Background papers

Participants of the African American Subject funnel

Co-Coordinator: Staci Ross
Cataloging/ Metadata Librarian
Metadata and Discovery Unit
University of Pittsburgh
email: [email protected]

Co-Coordinator: Michelle Cronquist
Special Collections Cataloger
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
email: [email protected]

Glenda Alvin
Associate Professor
Interim Executive Director of Libraries and Media Centers
Tennessee State University
3500 John A. Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, TN 37209
email: [email protected]

Erica A. Bruchko, PhD
Librarian for African American Studies and United States History
Robert W. Woodruff Library
Emory University
email: [email protected]

Jean L. Cooper
Metadata Librarian
Metadata & Discovery Services, Scholarly Resources and Content Strategy
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4109
email: [email protected]

Jina DuVernay
Collection Development Archivist for African American Collections
Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library
Emory University
email: [email protected]

Michele Fenton, MLIS
Monographs Catalog Librarian
Catalog Division, Room 317
Indiana State Library
315 West Ohio Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
tel.: 317-234-4937
email: [email protected]

Edna Foxhall
Cataloging/Metadata Librarian/Liaison
Levi Watkins Learning Center
Alabama State University
915 South Jackson Street
Montgomery, AL 36105
email: [email protected]

Tamar Miller
Denver Public Library
Senior Catalog Librarian
email: [email protected]

Deborah Tomaras
Metadata and Resource Management Librarian
James A. Cannavino Library
Marist College
3399 North Road
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
email: [email protected]

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Background papers

African American Subject Funnel Project Participants Survey Report (1999)


  • Call for Participants
  • LCCN v. 8, No. 5 : Implementation of subject heading change


  • January 2000: Librarians organize to address access issues relating to African American resources.
  • July 2000: African American Subject Funnel participants attend PCC SACO Workshop B entitled: "Preparing new and change subject headings for LCSH."
  • January 2001: AFAS/ACRL sponsor's subject workshop at ALA Mid-Winter, Washington, D.C.

African American Subject Funnel Project Participants Survey Report (1999) and Results:

The African American Studies and Librarians Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries is considering collaborating with the Library of Congress in a funnel project for African American subject headings. As a part of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, participants in the African American subject headings funnel project will be able to suggest, revise and create new headings relating to the African American experience. Such activity would provide an opportunity for librarians interested in African American resources to become directly involved with improving access to pertinent materials. As suggested during the Membership Meeting at the ALA Annual Conference 1999, the purpose of this survey is to determine if there is an interest among the membership to organize a funnel project and the number of catalogers who are AFAS members.

We request that you complete the survey below and forward to: Dorothy Ann Washington, 1100 3rd Street, West Lafayette, IN 47906 or email to:[email protected]

  1. Are you a member of the African American Studies and Librarians Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries?
    Answer: Yes (27); No (11)
  2. Do you think a funnel project for African American subject headings would be beneficial for users of your collection?
    Answer: Yes (32); Not sure (1); Blank (3); N/A (1); Maybe (1)
    Why or Why not?
    • These changes will be used in conjunction with the Library of Congress Subject Headings.
    • As a librarian, teacher, and user, I have seen and experience the complication when searching for African American subject materials. I feel not only would my present Library, but all Libraries, would benefit.
    • To keep with evolving terms.
    • Because our Arabic subject headings do not provide for such topics.
    • Library of Congress (LC) subject headings are currently confusing.
    • Because of unique attributes of African Americans.
    • It helps to have current and relevant subject headings that discuss areas of African-American life.
    • The number of books and articles that are being written today continue to increase and patrons need access with relevant terms.
    • Because if successful, it should create better access. I think we should also work on better name authority control.
    • Insufficient and misleading LC subject headings currently in use.
    • The current LCSH do not accurately reflect what terms the general public uses.
    • Yes, although our library does not have a specific collection in African American studies at the present time, it is possible that we will in the future.
    • It would be helpful to our faculty and students doing research in African American Studies
    • Users do not use the same vocabulary as LCSH when researching African American history and culture.
    • Because AFAS librarians who work closely with African American materials and published works, and those patrons of such are best able to develop subject terms.
    • The LCSH is confusing and arcane.
    • Because of the spirit of the Indexing Project, spearheaded by Dr. Clack, a project like this continues the struggle for correct subject headings concerning the Pan-African community.
    • To reflect a more accurate picture of African-Americans Logical.
    • As a former Ph.D. student of American History, specializing in African American women, subject headings related to the African American experience would be most helpful to researchers and students.
    • African American students and faculty could more readily identify subjects that encompass the African American experience.
    Not sure:
    • Subject headings that reflect the current language of users would be beneficial
    • Keyword searches help work around outdated subject headings,but keyword searches do not solve the problems of outdated and/or inaccurate headings.
    • It would make the collection more accessible for students; the more the better
    • Most users do not use subject headings; they do keyword searching.
    • While I think it might be beneficial for librarians, the benefit to users might be difficult to discern
    • Improve access to the body of literature.
  3. Do you think AFAS is the appropriate organization to coordinate such a project?
    Answer: Yes (35); Blank (2); Play a part (1)
    If not AFAS, then who?
    • Yes and no: I feel incorporating the powers that be that will support and make this project a success and not a start and then put to the side project, inclusion needs to be considered.
    • People who catalogue African American materials
    • Section should play a leading role
    • BCALA and perhaps ASA Africana librarians
    • BCALA has larger body and broader mandate.
    • If we have enough interested members committed to the project
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  5. Do you think a Cataloging Committee should be established within AFAS for the coordination of this project? (membership would not be restricted to catalogers)
    Answer: Yes (32); No (3); Blank (3)
    Should not be restricted to catalogers; catalogers will probably implement the project, but reference and collection development librarians are working with the patrons and materials every day and are very aware of terminology.
  6. Any other ideas or suggestions for ways to organize?
    • Committee should have sub-committees which allow membership by those NOT in cataloging-- this would expand ideas.
    • The committee should consist of Reference (Public Service Librarians) and catalogers.
    • Adhoc cataloging/project committee
    • Create the task force within the structure of AFAS and the president appoints a chair or co-chairs and there be a call for participation on the AFAS listserv and the AFAS newsletter.
    • Perhaps USER representation might be appropriate, as members of African-American Studies Association, etc.
    • An AFAS committee could organize and communicate with LC, but AFAS should include non-AFAS, ALA members in the project if we can identify key people with expertise in the subject.
    • Instead of cataloging, how about subject access or subject heading or word access committee
    • Not cataloging, not inclusive enough
    • Through BCALA, to include public libraries and special collections in Black Studies
    • Include librarians of African American collections that are not members of AFAS, ACRL, or ALA
  7. Indicate your area of responsibility. Please be specific e.g. reference, cataloging, acquisitions, department head or administration (technical services or public service background)
    • My area of responsibility includes reference, public service, collection development, print & electronic, instruction, html designer, etc. (1)
    • Assistant Director with Technical Services background (1)
    • Head of Technical Services/Archives (1)
    • Cataloging (2)
    • Cataloging, but I also have experience in public libraries reference work (1)
    • I am a cataloging librarian and also work reference both weekends and at assigned times during the week (1)
    • Reference/Cataloging (1)
    • Reference (8)
    • Reference and Subject Bibliographer for African American Studies and Biological Sciences (1)
    • Reference, collection development, instruction, Public Services (1)
    • Reference, Acquisitions, Department Head, and Public Services for a branch/campus library (1)
    • Reference, Department Head, Administration, Public Service; now retired (1)
    • Reference, administration (1)
    • Reference and community relations (1)
    • Reference and collection development (1)
    • Reference, interlibrary loan 50% Outreach for consortium 50% (1)
    • Reference, acquisition, and collection development (1)
    • Administration (3)
    • Department Head/collection development (1)
    • Assistant Director of Libraries for Public Services (1)
    • Professor of Library Science (1)
    • Interlibrary Loan (1)
    • Library Director (1)
    • Manager of Special Projects (Outreach Activities)(1)
    • Administration-Director (1)
    • Public Service (1)
  8. Please check the type of collection for which you have primary responsibility.
    • African Studies (9)
    • African American Studies (11)
    • Caribbean Studies (7)
    • General Professor of Library Science (4)
    • No specific area since I am in Technical Services (1)
    • I catalog all the music/AV/computer files and special materials, etc. (1)
    • Latin America (1)
    • Education (1)
    • Exercise & Sports Science (1)
    • Health Sciences (1)
    • Appalachian Studies (1)
    • Women's Studies (1)
    • Writing Program Librarian (1)
    • Have specialized in each service area in public libraries, all levels of public school libraries and at the University library -- all levels (1)
  9. Are you willing to participate in the funnel project (participation is not restricted to membership in AFAS or ALA)?
    Answer: Yes (23) ; No (10) ; Not at this time (3) ; Blank (2)
    If so, at what level?
    • Suggest new or revise subject headings to a designated coordinator within AFAS (telephone, snail, email, etc.) (18)
    • Complete appropriate paperwork and forward to designated coordinator within AFAS for review and forwarding to the Library of Congress (16)
    • Research, create or revise subject headings yourself and forward directly to the Library of Congress (8)
    • Support (1)
  10. Do you attend ALA and Midwinter conferences on a regular basis?
    • Annual & Midwinter (15)
    • Annual (7)
    • Midwinter (1)
    • N/A (1)
    • No (10)
    • No, but I will for this project (1)
    • Blank (4)
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  12. Will you be willing to attend training sessions for participants?
    Answer: Yes (19); No (6); Blank (12); N/A (1)
    If so, please suggest a convenient venue
    • ALA Annual (6)
    • Midwinter (5)
    • Maybe somewhere in the South (1)
    • At Indiana University or Chicago (ALA headquarters) (1)
    • Will be willing to travel to attend training (1)
    • I am open to suggestions as far as venue for training, but over the Internet is a suggestion I would like to offer at this time (1)
    • Regional site in Atlanta or the Southeast (1)
    • Atlanta (2)
  13. If you are a cataloger, please indicate the number of years of experience as a cataloger.
    • 1, 5, 7 1/2, 20, 21, 30 year(s)
    • Not cataloger (3)
    • Not currently cataloging, but cataloging is first love (1)
    • Blank (21)
    • N/A (7)
  14. If you are not a cataloger, but have cataloged in previous positions, please indicate the number of years of experience as a cataloger.
    • 2, 3, 3, 4, 14, 20+ years
    • None (1)
    • Blank (23)
  15. Have you participated in other Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) programs before?
    • BIBCO (2)
    • NACO (0)
    • SACO (0)
    • No (19)
    • Blank (17)
  16. Please indicate any previous training you have had.
    • Blank (25)
    • None (4)
    • I am in library school (1)
    • None, except Library School catalog courses (1)
    • I have training in indexing -- USDA indexing course (1)
    • Many training courses in library and documentation in Egypt and France as well as in computerized library systems (1)
    • Trained in cataloging and subject analysis by Professor Clack (1)
    • Trained to index materials using Medical Subject Headings at the National Library of Medicine (1)
    • MA in History and worked towards Ph.D in American History, specializing in African American Women (1)
    • I am not a trained cataloger, but I would be very willing to assist with the project, which I think is an important project (1)
    • None in cataloging, besides library school assignments and some copy cataloging in a paraprofessional position in the late 80s (1)
    • Drexel University, 1957 (1)
    • Attended a Name Authority Workshop sponsored by the Library of Congress and RTSD during the 1980s (1)
    • Coordinated Authority Control Workshop for library faculty in the University Library at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda in 1995 (Dr. Doris H. Clack conducted the workshop) (1)

Thank you for your time in completing this survey. Thank you! Good idea!

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Submitted by Dorothy Ann Washington

African American Studies Librarians Section Association of College and Research Libraries Call for Participants

The African American Studies Librarians Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries has established a discussion group to consider issues toward improving access to African American resources. An initial focus of the group is an African American Funnel Project in collaboration with the Library of Congress. Participants in the group will be able to suggest, revise or create headings relating to the African American experience. Participation is not restricted to catalogers nor ALA, ACRL, or AFAS members. The Library of Congress has agreed to provide training sessions toward such activity. A basic session on the Library of Congress Subject Headings is planned for ALA Annual Conference 2000 in Chicago.

We will also hold the first meeting of the Discussion Group for Cataloging Issues at Chicago. You will be notified of the place and time. If you would like to be a part of this very exciting and dynamic project, please contact Dorothy Ann Washington, 1100 3rd Street, West Lafayette, IN, 47906 or email her at: [email protected]

Article from the Library of Congress Cataloging Newsline (an online newsletter from LC's Cataloging Directorate), v. 8, no. 5 (June 2000)

"The Library of Congress, in cooperation with the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) and the African American Studies Librarians Section (AFAS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), has established an African American subject funnel project. As the first subject heading proposal in the funnel project, the Black Cultural Center Library, Purdue University, submitted to SACO, the subject authority component of the PCC, a proposal that the subject heading "Afro-Americans" be changed to "African Americans." The Library is planning to implement this change." Announcement about the implementation of the change can be accessed at:

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Librarians Organize to address access issues relating to African American Resources

The Library of Congress (LC) and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) are pleased to announce that an African-American subject funnel is organized and has received the first subject proposal. Over two years ago an invitation was extended to various Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to help LC become better keepers of African Americana materials by becoming participants in the PCC. Since that time several institutions have accepted that invitation. Two institutions: Howard University Law Library and Virginia State University were the first HBCUs to register and attend an ALA Annual Subject Authority (SACO) workshop given at LC.

To continue these outreach endeavours in July of 1998 Cornelia Goode, Program Specialist, began discussions with Elizabeth Plantz, Northwestern University, Coordinator of the Africana Subject Funnel project, in hopes of the inclusion of African-American subject headings submissions. This was placed on the agenda and discussed at the October 1998 African Librarians Council, Cataloging Committee meeting in Chicago during the African Studies Association annual meeting. The committee regrettably opposed to expanding the funnel; however, it offered to play a mentoring role to anyone establishing a new subject funnel. In 1999 during the Africana Librarians Council Meeting held at LC, Gracie Gilliam, Cooperative Cataloger, discussed with Plantz the need for establishing an African-American subject funnel separate from and not within the Africana project and asked for assistance in providing contact information with someone who would help develop the project . Plantz provided contact information for Gilliam and Goode. The contact person was Dorothy Washington at Purdue University, Black Cultural Center Library. Communication between Washington and Gilliam persisted realizing that African-American materials should be preserved and made accessible. Thus the planning to establish an African-American subject funnel began.

At ALA Annual in New Orleans in 1999, Washington proposed to the African American Studies Librarians Section (AFAS)of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) the idea of establishing an African American subject funnel within the group and indicated LCs support based on communications with Gilliam. To show further LC support for the project another cooperative cataloging staff member Anthony Franks, Cooperative Cataloger, attended the meeting of the AFAS and gave a brief presentation on the formulation of a subject funnel project. Washington's proposal generated much interest from the group. The ACRL suggested to move forward by conducting a membership survey. The major focus of the survey would be to question who would be interested in the creation and participation of an African-American subject funnel project. Washington created and forwarded the surveys to canvass various funnel interest. The survey results were overwhelmingly in favor of an African-American subject funnel and deemed the AFAS of the ACRL as the appropriate organization to help coordinate such activity.

At ALA midwinter meeting, 2000 , in San Antonio, Texas, Washington reported the survey results to the AFAS of the ACRL and the African-American subject funnel was approved. The AFAS of the ACRL then voted to establish a discussion group for cataloging issues within the section with Washington as President. This group will focus on improving access to African-American studies resources in a collaborative effort with the Library of Congress and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging. Although the group will consider all aspects of cataloging including name authority and bibliographic creation immediate attention will be devoted toward subject headings via an African American subject Funnel. Representing LC at the AFAS of the ACRL meeting in San Antonio Texas was John Mitchell, Cooperative Cataloger, and Ruta Penkiunas, Teamleader of the Cooperative Cataloging team.

Washington's willingness to become actively involved in the project and her commitment and perseverance are the reasons that the African-American subject funnel became a reality. To Washington we owe a great deal of gratitude. Through Washington's efforts we anticipate a number of institutional representation to attend one of the SACO Workshops to be given at ALA in Chicago.

African American Subject Funnel Participants Attend Basic Workshop At ALA

Participants of the African American Subject Funnel Project attended the PCC SACO Workshop B entitled: "Preparing new and change subject headings for LCSH" at ALA in Chicago, Illinois on July 7, 2000. This workshop laid the foundation, gave guidance, and principles in submitting new and changed subject proposal. A more specific workshop dealing with African American materials may be given in the near future. There were approximately twenty registrants for the PCC "SACO Basic" workshop offered in conjunction with ALA Annual Conference which represent librarians from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), an indication of the widespread interest in the newly developed subject funnel project.

Subject Cataloging Workshop held during AFAS Membership Meeting at ALA MidWinter

Participants: Aslaku Berhanu (Temple University), Kathleen Bethel (Northwestern University), Grace Jackson-Brown (Indiana University), Leroy J. LeFleur (Cornell), Kim Gallon (University of Pennsylvania), Gracie Gilliam (Library of Congress), Cornelia Owens Goode (Library of Congress), Elaine Westbrooks (Cornell), Bennie Robinson (Arkon University), Audrey Taylor (University of Houston), Angela Williams (Syracruse University), Mary Wrighten (Bowling Green University), and Dorothy Washington (Purdue University)

Dr. Carolyn O. Frost, professor and associate dean in the School of Information, University of Michigan, conducted a subject cataloging workshop geared toward non-catalogers during the AFAS Membership Meeting at ALA MidWinter meeting, January 13, 2001. Reference librarians, public librarians, and several new interested participants of the African American Subject Funnel Project were in attendance. The workshop was sponsored to support the establishment of the African American Subject Funnel Project. During the workshop many discussions took place regarding the subject heading change from Afro-American to African American and how should local institutions handle this change. Questions regarding the Library of Congress practice on specific subject headings were raised by Grace Jackson-Brown (Indiana University), such as the use of Black in the subject heading Black English. Because of LC policy to use Blacks for people of African descent outside of America, others felt that the use of Black English for African American English is confusing. Gracie Gilliam (Library of Congress) pointed out that it is important when developing subject authority records pertaining to African Americans or Blacks to read the scope notes in the Library of Congress Subject Headings list (LCSH) or the online catalog. Gilliam also stated that Black English refer to a particular dialect and the heading was established according to literary warrant at a particular time.

Kathleen Bethel (Northwestern University) expressed a concern of sources used for authority work in establishing terminology. She gave the example of Alice Walker coining the term "womanist" for Black women liberationist thought. In support, Dorothy Washington (Purdue University) suggested a project for this group would be to compile a listing of reference sources for cataloging African American material similar to the listing that was compiled by the Africana Librarians Council of the African Studies Association.

The workshop was informative and generated lively discussions. The participants were very pleased with Dr. Carolyn O. Frost willingness to share her knowledge and expertise with the group. Announcement about the workshop can be seen in AFAS newsletter at:

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Last update: Nov. 3, 2020