In the library world there exist many standards. Of great importance is the Library of Congress Authorities. These standards allow catalogers, patrons, and librarians to locate and identify resources with common/accepted terms. For example Mark Twain is identified as:
Twain, Mark, 1835-1910
Clemens, Samuel Langhorne 1835-1910
Snodgrass,Quintus Curtius, 1835-1910
Louis de Conte, 1835-1910
Using a standard leaves little room for confusion and differences. All libraries can share information between each other if they all adhere accordingly. Recently, I was helping a patron who was looking for information on Native Americans. I attempted a search on the term and found very little. However, doing a search on Indians revealed the Library of Congress Subject Heading as: Indians– Indians of North America. The subject heading is riddled with the term Indian; and I was shocked given our cultural move towards political correctness. I understand that the subject heading was probably written ages ago when the term was commonly accepted. I did some hunting on the controversy and discovered that:
Despite the wave of political correctness in the 1990s, during which “Native American” was often trumpeted as a more sensitive phrase, American Indians remain split on which term is preferable. A 1995 Department of Labor survey found that close to 50 percent of American Indians were perfectly happy with that label, while 37 percent preferred to be known as Native Americans. Those who prefer the former often do so because “Native American” sounds like a phrase concocted by government regulators—note, for example, that one of the community’s most radical civil rights groups is the American Indian Movement. Those who prefer Native American, on the other hand, often think that “Indian” conjures up too many vicious stereotypes from Western serials. [via slate by
Making a change to a subject heading that really encompasses so much would be difficult. Indians inhabited/inhabit a wide range of areas from the furthest regions of North America to the tip of South America. The LOC has a range of headings for them. I’m not sure where the controversy may or may not lead. After all the baseball team hasn’t changed it’s moniker and there is a news outlet known as Indian Country Today.