UX design in online catalogs: Practical issues with implementing traditional knowledge (TK) labels


  • Dana Reijerkerk Stony Brook University




user experience (UX) design, online catalog records, access rights statements, copyright, Traditional Knowledge (TK) Labels, memory institutions, Indigenous representation, MARC records, responsive web design, Library of Congress


At the center of the evolving debates of open access and intellectual property in memory institutions is a long history of excluding Indigenous Peoples from conversations concerning the access and use rights to their belongings. In recent decades many memory institutions challenged prevalent historical and current classifications of Indigenous Peoples in online catalog records. Most recently the Library of Congress (LC) adopted a new cataloging practice called Traditional Knowledge (TK) labeling as a way to return control over access and use of Indigenous materials to their rightful Indigenous owners. The advent of this emergent digital rights tool disrupts previously held assumptions about the purpose of rights statements in catalog records as well as challenges the existing balance between the rights of Indigenous communities and the interests of public access. The adoption of TK Labels in the LC’s “Ancestral Voices” digital collection brings serious practical implementation issues to light that deserve further consideration before memory institutions invest in this new digital access rights metadata standard. Although TK Labels are a technological opportunity that provide more space for community-based relationships within memory institutions, this paper suggests that the practical implementation of TK Labels in Ancestral Voices falls short of its promise to return authority to the Passamaquoddy people. Rather, TK Labels raise more logistical and technical questions about the effectiveness of the TK labeling framework and purpose of re-cataloging records describing Indigenous materials.

Author Biography

Dana Reijerkerk, Stony Brook University

Cataloging and Metadata Services




How to Cite

Reijerkerk, D. (2020). UX design in online catalogs: Practical issues with implementing traditional knowledge (TK) labels. First Monday, 25(8). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v25i8.10406