May 21, 2022

Library of Congress Releases Page For the Public to Comment on Proposed “Ilegal Aliens” Subject Heading Cancellation and Replacement

UPDATED POST May 23 2016

At the bottom of this post we’ve embedded the full text of a two-page letter signed by four members of the U.S. Congress:

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
  • Rep. John Culberson (R-TX)
  • Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)

that was sent to Acting Librarian of Congress, David Mao, on May 16, 2016 urging LC to revoke the new subject heading(s) and return “Illegal Aliens”.


Earlier this week we commented on a U.S. House Committee voted to tell the the Library of Congress to NOT cancel some subject headings that were set for cancellation and replacement.

Background Here

U.S. Congress Needs to Stay Out of Library of Congress Subject Headings


Library of Congress to Cancel the Subject Heading “Illegal Aliens”

Today, LC posted a tentative (not approved) monthly list of changes showing the cancellations.

Along with the list the library has also posted a survey where the public can share their views on these PROPOSED changes.

From the Survey Web Page:

The Policy and Standards Division of the Library of Congress, which maintains Library of Congress Subject Headings, announced on March 22, 2016 its determination that the headings Aliens and Illegal aliens should both be replaced. The announcement noted that the proposed revisions would appear on a Tentative List for comments no earlier than May 2016.

If approved, the heading Aliens would be replaced by Noncitizens, which is currently a Used For (UF) reference to Aliens. Illegal aliens would be replaced by two headings: Noncitizens and Unauthorized immigration. Other headings that include the word aliens or the phrase illegal aliens (e.g., Church work with aliens; Children of illegal aliens) would also be revised.

The Library of Congress is accepting comments through July 20, 2016. Due to the level of interest in this proposed revision, comments will be accepted only through this online survey.

Review of the comments by the Policy and Standards Division will begin after July 20, 2016. Final disposition of the proposals will be announced later this year.

This survey is open to anyone who would like to comment on the proposal to replace the Library of Congress subject heading Illegal aliens with two headings: Noncitizens and Unauthorized immigration.

Direct to LC Survey (via Survey Monkey)

See Also: For Additional Background, see Lisa Peet’s Article, “Library of Congress Drops Illegal Alien Subject Heading, Provokes Backlash Legislation” (via LJ)

Letter to Library of Congress Re Illegal Alien by LJ's infoDOCKET

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.