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The term "illegal aliens" can have negative impacts on our user community, and our users might incorrectly presume that the subject terminology in our library discovery systems that includes these terms is a deliberate choice made by library staff. Orbis Cascade Alliance libraries support and commit to the widely-accepted practice of implementing alternative headings locally at the consortium level to provide more inclusive terminology in our library catalogs. Changing these subject headings also supports the Alliance 2019 - 2024 Strategic Agenda item to "Curate physical and digital collections that foster diversity and inclusiveness in research, scholarship, and teaching" and supports member institutions' individual commitments to equity, diversity, and inclusion.


Official efforts to change the Library of Congress Subject Heading "Illegal aliens" and related subject headings with the recommended alternative term "Undocumented immigrants" have been stalled since 2016. In June 2020, the Orbis Cascade Alliance Cataloging Standing Group and Program Manager of Technical Services recommended that the Alliance establish a central mechanism for replacing these subject headings in Alliance libraries' discovery interfaces with alternative terminology proposed by the ALA/ALCTS Subject Analysis Committee Working Group. The Cataloging Standing Group's recommendation to replace these headings was based on community-wide review and discussion of the Cataloging Standing Group's previous discussion paper on this issue and a survey of Alliance technical services representatives.


The Cataloging Standing Group's recommendation to change these headings was approved unanimously by Alliance Council in September 2020, and subsequently the Primo Normalization Rules Standing Group implemented these changes by replacing the subject terminology in the full record display and subject facet of the Primo discovery system for all Alliance member institutions. Both the original Library of Congress subject headings and the alternative headings are retained in the search and browse indexes so that users can still retrieve relevant library materials using the original subject terminology if desired. Below is a list of the standard Library of Congress headings and the alternative headings that now display in Alliance catalog discovery systems as of January 15th, 2021.


LC Subject Headings Alternative Headings
Alien criminals Noncitizen criminals 
Alien detention centers Immigrant detention centers 
Aliens Noncitizens 
Aliens in art Noncitizens in art 
Aliens in literature Noncitizens in literature 
Aliens in mass media Noncitizens in mass media 
Aliens in motion pictures Noncitizens in motion pictures 
Childen of illegal aliens Children of undocumented immigrants 
Illegal alien children Undocumented immigrant children 
Illegal aliens Undocumented immigrants 
Illegal aliens in literature Undocumented immigrants in literature 
Women illegal aliens Women undocumented immigrants 
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