Document (#34574)

Author
Miksa, F.
Title
¬"The power to name" : a review essay
Source
Libraries and the cultural record. 42(2007) no.1, S.75-79
Year
2007
Abstract
Review Essay zu: "The power to name: locating the Limits of Subject Representation in Libraries. By Hope A. Olson. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002. x, 261 pp. $103.00. ISBN 1-4020-0776-0". This work by Hope A. Olson is a much-pruned and rewritten version of her 1996 dissertation at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Its original version is mentioned because in it she explains more fully the character of the radical feminist deconstructionist approach she brings to her task. However, the muted explanation of her perspective in the present volume does not ultimately alter the character of the work, which is both a polemic against what she concludes are male-dominated subject access tools and an apologia for a feminist understanding or approach to the tools. The central objective of The Power to Name is convincingly to characterize bias in classification and subject heading work, that is, to show that bias thoroughly marginalizes and sometimes excludes women and women minorities altogether. In the process of satisfying this objective the author also provides an etiology for the bias. Thus, the work essentially accomplishes two tasks, each of which will be examined here. Of the first of these two tasks, Olson states that her own analysis of Dewey Decimal Classification numbers and Library of Congress subject headings for eleven sample books "combines a feminist perspective with attention to particular groups of women identifying with one or more of the following: women of colour, African American women, Chicanas, lesbians, Asian American women, working class women, Jewish women, [and] North American Aboriginal women" (184). More specifically, she states that "the literature on cataloguing feminist material and materials for women illustrates that the existing standards include sexist terminology and put topics in uncongenial contexts with a sexist result. That is, they juxtapose them in classifications and references in such a way as to create a pejorative effect ... [T]hey treat women as exceptions to a masculine...

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