SLIS student Nancy Henke is no stranger to working in higher education. During her graduate program at Colorado State University she was an instructor in undergraduate rhetoric courses. After graduating with her MA in English with a specialization in literature she spent several years working in instruction and administration for CSU. Through her time working at CSU, Nancy learned how diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles are applied in university instruction. After enrolling in SLIS, she became curious about how those same principles could be applied in academic libraries. While participating in the SLIS practicum program Nancy had the opportunity to explore this subject by gaining experience with reparative description.
During the spring 2022 semester, Nancy enrolled in the practicum course and began a project working with CSU digital collections. The goal of the project was to assess problematic language used within the metadata of CSU’s digital collections and develop a plan for how to apply reparative description practices to this metadata. Nancy found that her background in teaching rhetoric helped to frame her understanding of the importance of language in archival description. “Rhetoric is all about paying attention to language and the power of how you talk about things,” she said.
When asked about the highlights of this project, Nancy noted that she enjoyed seeing that changes were already being made based on her work. As her final step in the project, she created a summary report to present the language trends she had found in the collection. This report has been given to a CSU task force to help guide their work in addressing harmful descriptive language.
While work continues in applying reparative description principles to the CSU collection, Nancy has continued to explore the topic in other projects. For an assignment in her Conceptual Foundations course, she created Resources for Reparative Archival Description, that organizes the resources she discovered during her practicum into a publicly accessible format. In October 2022 she presented at the MN+ Digital Collections Conference about the lessons she learned during her practicum.
More information about Nancy’s work in reparative description and links to her projects can be found on her website.