A Lot of Different Flowers Make a Bouquet/
June 09, 2023
The Islamic proverb “a lot of different flowers make a bouquet” poetically expresses the Atla staff’s commitment to expanding coverage of underrepresented research and to revising topical terms to reflect current academic language more accurately in Atla’s research databases. We prioritize adding titles from underrepresented communities, countries, languages, faith traditions, and viewpoints to enhance the inclusivity and equity of discoverable research. In the spirit of the proverb, we want our flowers to be enjoyed or, in library parlance, discovered and used in research. The editorial staff actively replaces confusing, inaccurate, outdated topical terms with current, more inclusive terminology, especially for demographic designations, to better align with the expanded content. In this same spirit, Atla staff also participate in our broader community’s efforts to ensure fairness, diversity, equity, and respect for a full range of scholarly topics and research in the scholarly record.
A greater assortment of flowers…
For the Atla Religion Database®, also known as Atla RDB®, and our full-text offerings, AtlaSerials® (Atlas®) and AtlaSerials PLUS® (Atlas PLUS®), we identify and add titles that meet the research community’s current and future needs. Since FY15, we’ve added over 680 new titles to the index. These titles extended our coverage to twenty-two new countries and significantly expanded our coverage of research in thirty-two languages. During this period, we significantly expanded our coverage of underrepresented topical areas, including Asian religions, Black theologies, Islam, Judaism, and Women’s perspectives. We’ve expanded coverage of interdisciplinary studies, including intersections with media, arts, law, manuscript studies, and social sciences.
The FY23 additions reflect these commitments. Through May, we’ve added fifty-two new titles to the index. These titles increase our research coverage from fourteen countries and thirteen languages, including the first Samoan title, the peer-reviewed Samoa Journal of Theology, and the first title from Bolivia, the peer-reviewed Yachay: Revista de Cultura, Filosofía y Teología. We’ve also increased our coverage of research from Asia, (e.g., 신종교연구, Tenri Journal of Religion, Journal of Abhidharma Studies, and 한국무속학), Judaism (e.g., Jewish Film & New Media), and interdisciplinary studies (e.g., Philosophia Reformata: International Philosophical Journal of Christianity, Science, and Society).
We have added over 200 edited volumes covering numerous topics, including skepticism, religion and politics, theology, law and religion, antisemitism, biblical studies, and church law. The volumes also include new research on Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Martin Luther, Xi Zhu, Mircéa Éliade, and Augustine.
Atla’s full-text additions also demonstrate our commitment to providing access to titles that support our discipline’s pedagogical and research needs. We have released thirty-six new full-text titles through May. These titles reflect scholarship from ten countries and eight languages, including our first peer-reviewed titles from Samoa, Sāmoa Journal of Theology, and Serbia, Nicholai Studies. We’ve extended coverage of African and Asian perspectives with titles such as Ghana Journal of Religion and Theology, The Japan Christian Review, Japan Christian Quarterly, and Review of Religion and Chinese Society. We’ve also extended coverage of interdisciplinary research, including Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging, Religion, Brain & Behavior, Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology, and Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society.
As noted in our series on Indigenous peoples, Atla metadata staff systematically updates topical authorities in our controlled vocabulary to make them more inclusive and to reflect the discipline’s current language. Atla’s editorial staff have graduate degrees in library science, theology, religious studies, history, anthropology, philosophy, literature and languages, and the social sciences. Several team members engage in ongoing academic pursuits as researchers or instructors. They thoughtfully apply this current understanding of our discipline to revisions of our authority files, especially our topical terminology.
Vocabulary updates included the terms used to refer to indigenous people groups, slavery-related terms, and people-forward headings. For example, we have:
- Updated tribal headings to reflect how the specific tribes refer to themselves.
- Removed the word “Indians” in general. Changed “Indians of…” to “Indigenous Peoples of…”
- Changed headings related to forced labor, indentured servitude, and slavery.
- Replaced “ex-convicts” with “formerly incarcerated people.”
- Replaced “problem children” with “children with behavioral disorders.”
Atla’s editorial staff participates in various scholarly societies, such as the Association for the Study of Eastern Christian History and Culture, the International Jacques Ellul Society, the Society of Christian Ethics, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. We are also active in many scholarly communications organizations and committees with a special focus on opportunities to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the academic community and scholarly publishing.
Jill Annitto, Atla’s Head of Metadata and Editorial Operations, is a member of The Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms (LCDGT) advisory group. As noted in an Atla blog post, the LCDGT is charged with developing subject headings to represent characteristics (such as language, occupation, and nationality) of both the intended audience of their resources and that of the creators and contributors of those resources. Jill is moderating a panel at ALA in June, Less Talk, More Action: Adventures in Inclusive Metadata (June 24, 10:30-11:30 am CT). Jill was recently added as a co-coordinator of the FAST Funnel, which manages proposed new terms and updates to existing terms in the FAST vocabularies.
I am the current Chair of the NISO board and a member of NISO’s DEIA committee. I helped shape NISO’s DEIA policy and contributed a section about Atla for the article, Implementing a diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility strategy: Lessons learned at five scholarly communications organizations, published in the January 2023 issue of Learned Publishing. At the 2023 Annual Meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP), I led a panel discussing the needs of early career professionals. The panelists included Andy Lofthus, the Information Services Librarian at Western Seminary.
Other members of the Atla staff are also engaged in this important work. Gillian Harrison Cain, the Director of Member Programs, is Atla’s representative to the C4DISC steering committee. Jamie Lin, Education & Professional Development Manager, participated in the ALA EDI Assembly from August 2020-July 2022. Member Engagement Librarian Alexis Weiss is the staff liaison to Atla’s DEI Committee.
In the spirit of the opening proverb, the staff is fully engaged in carefully cultivating and curating the diversity of the flowers for our bouquet. We welcome feedback and suggestions for new titles. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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