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Offensive Materials In Sibley Collections: Home

Statement on Offensive Materials in Sibley Collections

Sibley Music Library is committed to diversity, equity, and social change. Towards those ends, we must acknowledge that among Sibley’s vast holdings, there are materials that are offensive and include potentially hurtful language and imagery – specifically, objectionable and demeaning portrayals of ability, gender, race, religion, sexuality/sexual orientation, and other categories. These materials are egregious. They reflect the creators and norms of their times: a Eurocentric or nationalistic mapping of the world, imperialism and colonialism, and subjugation of peoples, resulting in the unfortunate perpetuation of ugly and insulting stereotypes. Many musicians, including prominent composers and practitioners, also shared this worldview, much of which is evident in their writings, public statements, and in the works they composed and performed.

In its earlier history, Sibley's acquisitions also reflected aspects of these societal attitudes, resulting in the accumulation of a significant number of scores and music-related books with content that is reprehensible. As a corrective policy, instead of withdrawing these items, or rendering them inaccessible, Sibley recognizes that they are of research value in this socio-historical context, and therefore have retained them in the collection for scholarly investigation into a troubled history. Moreover, we strive to deepen the scope and breadth of our collection by acquiring material that furthers the awareness of and knowledge about musics and traditions of underrepresented peoples, and we welcome all suggestions for such collection growth.

Finally, we must also view our library’s cataloging history through a similar critical lens. Our subject headings, classification system, and descriptive language used in cataloging our materials (largely influenced and derived from those of the Library of Congress) will be continually under review and revised to harmonize with our aforementioned commitments. Therefore, if you discover any offensive language in a finding aid, catalog record, digital collection description, or the like, please contact the Sibley Music Library to bring this to our attention.

Resources to Help Contextualize Offensive Materials -- Print and Electronic Books

Resources To Help Contextualize Offensive Materials--Articles

Anderson, Colin L. "Segregation, popular culture, and the Southern pastoral: The spatial and racial politics of American sheet music, 1870-1900."  Journal of Southern History 85 (2019), p. 577-610

Appel, Markus ; Weber, Silvana. "Do Mass mediated stereotypes harm members of negatively stereotyped groups? A meta-analytical review on media-generated stereotype threat and stereotype lift." Communication Research, 2021 (48), p.151-179

Dabrinsky, Emily, "Queering the catalog: Queer theory and the politics of correction." Library Quarterly 83 (2013), p. 94-114

Dunson, Stephanie, ”The minstrel in the parlor: nineteenth-century sheet music and the domestication of blackface minstrelsy.ATQ, 16 (2002), p. 241-253.

Gitelman, Lisa. "Reading records, reading race: musical copyright and the U.S. Copyright Act of 1909.Musical Quarterly 81 (1997), p. 265-290

Lemons, J. Stanley, "Black stereotypes as reflected in popular culture, 1880-1920." American Quarterly 29 (Spring, 1977), pp. 102-116 

Zapata-Rodríguez, Melissa. "Minstrelsy: iconography of resistance during the American Civil War.Music In Art 41 (2016), p.111-127

Wheeler, Maurice B, "Politics and race in American historical popular music: contextualized access and minstrel music archives." Archival Science 11 (2011), p.47-75

Contact Sibley Library!

If you have questions or concerns about specific items in our collections or their descriptions, or if you have recommendations for further broadening the scope of Sibley’s resources, please notify Music Librarian Jonathan Sauceda.

UR River Campus Libraries Offensive Materials Statement - Additional Resources

Beyond UR - Statements by Other Library Institutions