Library of Congress Subject Headings and “Illegal Aliens”

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Subject headings are a set of terms that is used to classify material in the Library of Congress. Subject headings make it easier for both librarians and researchers to look up material based on just a few key words. Throughout time, many subject headings have caused a political controversy. Today, there is controversy around the subject heading “illegal alien.” Many immigrants, such as Ms. Padilla, believe that the term should be removed from the Library of Congress’s subject heading because it has a derogatory connotation, and is politically incorrect. They believe that only actions are illegal, and that people are not illegal. On the other hand, Republican’s believe that the subject heading should not be removed, because it is a federal law that needs to be taken more seriously.

The Library of Congress later decided that the term would be removed from subject headings. I agree with their decision to remove the term from subject headings. “Illegal Alien” is an old term that is not politically correct in today’s society. Changing the term to “unauthorized citizen” does not change the seriousness of the federal law. Other examples of questionable subject headings were the terms “Negro” and “retard,” which were removed from subject heading. In the future, the Library of Congress can enact stricter policies in order to remove offensive subject headings. I think it will be hard to prevent new terms from becoming offensive in the future, however, I do believe that if a relatively large group of people deems the heading as offensive, it should be removed without question.

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