The Dewey Decimal Classification system has dictated the way libraries organize their collections for more than a century. This approach may have been around forever, but it isn’t perfect. The way information is organized and sorted places prioritization on some information, leaving other information behind. YES Magazine brought this interesting story to us in their article, “This Library Takes an Indigenous Approach to Categorizing Books.”

One example are books on Indigenous communities that often get classified into the history section. This assumes that Native people are considered part of the past, not the present or the future.

X̱wi7x̱wa Library (pronounced whei-wha) at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, is trying to change that. The library aims to counter Western, colonial bias and better reflect the knowledge of Indigenous peoples. By offering an alternative to the widely used Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classification systems, this library is taking steps toward decolonizing the way information is sorted, cataloged, and shared.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.