Cataloguing and classification ethics: an ARLIS (online) talk

An introductory talk on the ethical issues in cataloguing and classification presented by Deborah Lee, Senior Teaching Fellow at UCL

Friday 10 December 2021, 1.30-2.30 pm GMT

Held online via Zoom

About this event

Ethical issues in cataloguing and classification are a critical area of library thinking and practice, and are high priorities for libraries seeking to make their services and collections more inclusive and diverse. Interestingly, the contemplation of the ethical dimensions of how our bibliographic resources are described and organised has a long pedigree in both theory and practice. In this talk, the ideas surrounding cataloguing ethics are introduced. First, the talk focuses on the problematic design of description and organising systems, including a broad overview of some of the research carried out in this area. Second, the talk will contemplate the ethics of cataloguing and classification practices, including topics such as codes of ethics and particular ethical issues arising from the description and classification of art materials. Third, the talk considers the wider context of introducing more ethical practices in cataloguing and classification, including the inherent tensions between designing in inclusivity in a local setting and following global practices, and the potential barriers towards changes.


The online talk will be followed by time for questions and discussion. This talk serves as a general introduction to a series of online talks being planned by the ARLIS Cataloguing and Classification Committee for Spring 2022, which will look at case studies of ethics scenarios around cataloguing and/or classification.


Attendance is free and all are welcome to attend. No knowledge of cataloguing or classification is required. Furthermore, you do not have to be a member of ARLIS or working in an art library to attend.


Please register on Eventbrite –


Speaker biography:

Deborah Lee is a Senior Teaching Fellow at University College London, where among other things she leads the cataloguing and classification, and knowledge organisation modules. Her research areas include the knowledge organisation of music, the theory of knowledge organisation systems, art information organisation, and cataloguing education. Her research has been published in a variety of research and professional journals, including JASIST, Journal of Documentation, Knowledge Organisation, Information Research, Journal of Library Metadata, Proceedings of the Document Academy, Art Libraries Journal, and Catalogue and Index. She was formerly the Senior Cataloguer and Joint Acting Head of the Book Library at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and was until June 2021, the co-chair of the ARLIS Cataloguing and Classification Committee.