May 27, 2022

Report: “UC Berkeley Library Works to Add Alternative Term for ‘Illegal Aliens’ in Catalog”

From The Daily Californian:

Starting in spring 2019 and continuing today, the campus library’s information technology team has been working to add the subject heading “Undocumented immigrants” to catalog records with the “Illegal aliens” heading, according to Jo Anne Newyear-Ramirez, the UC Berkeley Library’s associate university librarian for scholarly resources. This would allow searches to be conducted by either term.

“When someone sees the term ‘Illegal aliens,’ they assume those that are referenced are ‘other’ and therefore are permitted to be subject to prejudice, bigotry, and outright hate and discrimination,” said Lillian Castillo-Speed, head librarian of the campus Ethnic Studies Library, and Robert Toyama, cataloging coordinator for the Ethnic Studies Library, in an email. “Impressionable students may at first question or wonder about the heading, but after constant use may come to see this term as normal and accepted.”


The existence of the “Illegal aliens” subject heading has long drawn controversy, according to the press release. Dartmouth College students initiated an effort in 2014 to drop the term from the lexicon, which reached Congress but was blocked by lawmakers.

Read the Complete Article

Learn More, ‘Words Matter’: Why the UC Berkeley Library is Embracing Another Term for ‘Illegal Aliens’ (UC Berkeley Library News)

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.