DePaul University Libraries > About > About the Library > Commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) > Accountability Framework > Expanding and Decolonizing the Catalog

Expanding and Decolonizing the Catalog

Reckoning with Our Collections

The Library recognizes that there are notable gaps in our collections, with people and concepts that may not be well represented, or which may not be represented at all. We are looking at our collections to see where we may add materials to represent this diversity of interests, individuals, peoples, communities and concepts. As we add materials to our collections, we will add items to the appropriate related Libguides so that our users may find them.

Potentially offensive materials

The primary mission of the university library and the art museum is to serve the DePaul academic community and the general public by providing access to resources for a variety of purposes: teaching, research, learning, and even entertainment. Our unique materials document the history of the university, of the Lincoln Park community, and the city of Chicago, as well as the Vincentian community and the wider world. Our archival collections provide evidence of institutional activities and decision-making, as well as the activities of individuals and organizations. 

Many historical materials document a time and place, serving as a portrayal of the social mindsets and occurrences of their time. They do not mirror the current views of DePaul University, the University Library, or the Art Museum, which seek to encourage a vibrant and diverse learning community. Some materials that are part of our collections may be considered offensive. We strive to provide context for these items through descriptive records, and where considered necessary, statements attached to the exhibit, item or record that provide a warning about potentially sensitive content.

Specific objections to materials will be addressed in accordance with our mission and this policy, and in consultation with those responsible for the specified collections, who are informed on their professions’ best practices, codes of ethics, and responsible and sensitive handling of cultural materials. Possible actions may include but are not limited to the following:


  • The identified materials remain available online with no change
  • Provision of additional descriptive information to provide context for the materials in question


In extraordinarily rare and unusual cases, removal of materials from our collections may be considered. However, the University Library and Art Museum place an extremely high value on providing access and context. Therefore, this option may be considered only in exceptional circumstances, with our institutions strongly preferring to add context and additional information about the items detailing the history and controversy.

The documents, images, publications, and other materials have been retained in order to fully represent the materials in their original format. If the offensive text is not in the original, but in a finding aid, catalog record, or other description, please contact the University Library or the Art Museum to bring this to our attention.

(“Potentially offensive materials” statement borrows from similar statements by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Nebraska-Omaha, and Wake Forest University Libraries.)

Ask a Librarian

Make an Appointment

You can also contact us by: