Andrea Malone, coordinator of research services at University of Houston Libraries, serves on the Modern Language Association’s Advisory Committee on the MLA International Bibliography (MLAIB). The MLAIB is a searchable database with more than 2.8 million records pertaining to journals, books, websites, and other content related to humanities scholarship and resources.
The Advisory Committee assesses the direction and philosophy of the bibliography; advises MLA staff on policies and procedures for producing the bibliography; and recruits volunteer bibliographers to index content for the database.
Malone has been a committee member since 2017, and heading into her final year of the three-year term, is now chairing the committee, which comprises humanities faculty from the US and Canada, as well as librarians.
The association prioritizes ongoing assessment and improvement of its tools and resources. MLA staff consult with the Advisory Committee on tutorial production to optimize student and faculty use of the database. Additionally, an in-the-works committee project team will manage the review of indexing vocabulary for the MLAIB. The purpose is to create a framework that makes search results equitable, relevant, and inclusive. The Advisory Committee will collaborate with information specialists from diverse backgrounds and locations to develop the selection of terms that are more inclusive of underrepresented groups in humanities literature and research.
“While the MLAIB has content from a variety of people and in various languages, we recognize the metadata behind it—how people would search and find that content—needs to be equitable,” Malone said. “The goal is to create a dataset that includes text more closely aligned with how certain groups describe themselves, and to include those terms in the metadata. When someone searches the content of the database, they’ll be able to find what they’re looking for based on those new, inclusive terms.”
University of Houston users can access the MLA International Bibliography and related resources at the research guide for modern and classical languages and literature.