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The Change the Subject Project at NYPL, BPL, and BookOps: About

The Change The Subject Project at NYPL, BPL and BookOps

With the support of METRO’s Equity in Action grant program, the Brooklyn Public Library and The New York Public Library worked in partnership with BookOps, which serves the cataloging needs of both institutions, to begin aligning their public catalogs with their values by identifying and replacing the subject headings “illegal aliens” and “aliens” with more inclusive terminology. An investigation by the project team determined that controlled vocabulary at the local level would be the most effective route for changing these headings. 

The project also included a number of public-facing initiatives to educate library professionals and the general public about the larger context of these cataloging efforts, resulting in workflow documentation for the library profession as well as curricular materials for educators. The project team partnered with THE CITY newsroom to convene a series of focus groups with staff and patrons to better understand the impact of language choice on library access for immigrant communities in New York City. At the same time, both libraries developed a robust programming series including panel discussions, film screenings and youth conversation groups to bring the themes raised by the project to a larger audience. 

This guide includes programming, curricular and cataloging documentation for use by library professionals and educators.


Project Team


Tomasz Kalata, Metadata Manager, Cataloging

Steven Pisani, Assistant Director, Cataloging

Miriam Gloger, Senior Librarian

Brooklyn Public Library

Amy Mikel, Director of Customer Experience

Nick Higgins, Chief Librarian

Aimee Lusty, Graduate Assistant

New York Public Library

Paloma Celis Carbajal, Curator for Latin America, Iberian and Latino Collections

Melissa Gasparotto, Associate Director, Research Services and Institutional Partnerships

Jelicia Jimenez, Graduate Assistant

Change the Subject Documentary