Statement on Potentially Harmful Content
The Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) shares materials from libraries, museums, and others in Georgia and the U.S. online. Our websites include historical and primary sources from many cultures and time periods. Some content (or its descriptions) may be harmful and difficult to view. These materials may be graphic or reflect biases. In some cases, they may conflict with strongly held cultural values, beliefs or restrictions.
We provide access to these materials to preserve the historical record, but we do not endorse the attitudes, prejudices, or behaviors found within them.
Please approach the materials found on these sites with respect for the cultures and people they document.
Creation of the Statement
The DLG is a member service hub of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). The DLG modeled its statement on DPLA’s. DPLA staff and its metadata working group drafted the DPLA statement. Outside experts and the network reviewed it before approval.
DLG staff simplified the statement’s language to improve its readability based on Georgia Department of Education eighth grade reading levels. Staff at GALILEO, Georgia Public Library Service, NGE, UGA Libraries, and DLG partners reviewed the draft statement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where does this content come from?
The DLG partners with cultural heritage organizations across Georgia and the U.S. Together, we digitize and share historical content online for free. Each contributor shares materials with the DLG according to its specific policies and goals. We also create exhibits and primary source sets that feature our partners’ content.
What harmful or difficult content may be found in the DLG websites?Some items may:
- Reflect white supremacist and imperialist views, including racist, sexist, and xenophobic opinions and attitudes.
- Be biased against or exclude diverse views on sexuality, gender, ableism, religion, and more.
- Include graphic content such as violent death, medical procedures, crime, wars, natural disasters and more.
- Demonstrate bias and exclusion in library/museum collecting and digitization.
- Depict traditional knowledge and offend against strongly held cultural prohibitions.
Why does DLG make this content available?
The DLG and its partners collect, preserve, and present these materials as part of the historic record. Together, they work to balance the preservation of history with its sensitive display.
How is this material described? Why are some of the terms used harmful?
- Librarians and archivists choose what language to use when describing materials. Some descriptions were written in the past and use language that was accepted at the time.
- Librarians and archivists often re-use language provided by creators or former owners of the material. This can provide important context, but can also reflect biases and prejudices.
- Librarians and archivists often use standardized sets of terms to describe materials. Some of these terms are outdated, offensive, or insensitive.
- Communities with less privilege have had less control over how they are portrayed and described.
- Librarians and archivists sometimes make mistakes or use poor judgment.
The DLG pledges to help its partners assess and update harmful descriptions.
How are the DLG and its partners addressing this issue?We are:
- Including warnings on collections with this type of content.
- Prioritizing digitization of content from less privileged communities.
- Working directly with misrepresented communities when describing them.
- Revising and enhancing descriptions with more respectful, community-selected terms.
- Creating new, more inclusive standardized terms.
- Listening to users, researching to find solutions, and sharing our results.
- Evaluating current policies for practices that prioritize one culture and/or group over another.
- Training our contributors in inclusive partnerships, digitization, and description.
What happens if I report harmful content?
We encourage our users to report harmful content.The DLG will forward your report to the owning institution. They will determine whether to change or remove the content. Institutions weigh potential harm, accurate preservation of the historical record, professional practices, and limited resources. The DLG will use all reports to better understand the issue and educate others.