Culture keepers: Cataloging the afrocentric way

Kathleen E. Bethel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Adapted from a presentation at the First National Conference of African-American Librarians sponsored by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, September 1992, this paper will! explore what the theories of Afrocentricity can mean to the arrangement of knowledge and the dissemination of information. The basic premise of Afrocentricity is to study and examine phenomena from the standpoint of Africans as subjects rather than objects. It emphasizes an analysis rooted in the historical and contemporary realities of African people without negating or minimizing the experiences of other groups. The paper speculates on the implications of an Afrocentric approach to such technical facets of cataloging as a controlled vocabulary, computer applications and classification schemes. The inconsistencies of classification and indexing vocabulary deny patron access to materials on Africa and her Diaspora. While this criticism about various system inadequacies is often voiced by other area and group subject specialists, the evolving methodologies of Afrocentricity prompt discussion of the traditional systems in regard to Black Studies. It is important for reference librarians to participate in this reappraisal because we are often the strongest mediators between the various classification and subject heading systems, the new Black Studies scholarship, and the broader research community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-240
Number of pages20
JournalReference Librarian
Issue number45-46
StatePublished - Jul 12 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences

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