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Social Work 591/791: Practice with LGBTQIA+ Communities

This guide provides information resources on the special topics course: Practice with LGBTQIA+ Communities


The purpose of this guide is to help you with your research for Social Work 306. This guide contains links and information on the following:

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People in the LGBTQIA+ community use different language to describe themselves than Libraries use to describe materials about LGBTQIA+ Studies.

Why is this?

This is because Libraries use standardized sets of words, sometimes called controlled vocabularies, to describe and organize books and media in their collections. This standardized language is designed to help people find sources related to their topics consistently. However, marginalized communities do not choose the terms libraries use to describe sources, and the language used in library search tools isn't updated as quickly as our cultural discourse changes.

Why is this a problem?

It is very common to encounter offensive and harmful language used to describe and categorize library sources about LGBTQIA+ Studies. It can also make it harder to search for sources related to LGBTQIA+ topics because the language you are familiar with doesn't match the language to describe the sources. 

What are librarians doing about this issue?

Libraries using controlled vocabularies that are inaccurate, outdated, or offensive is an issue that impacts collections related to lots marginalized communities, not just LGBTQIA+ themed materials. Within the field of librarianship, there is a movement to combat harmful controlled vocabulary use called critical cataloging. Some strategies critical catalogers use to describe and organize materials include: making offensive descriptor terms less visible in public-facing search tools, employing alternative (more inclusive) controlled vocabularies, and creating more humane language systems for describing library materials.

For more information on critical cataloging, visit:

What language should I use in my writing?

In your own writing about your research, try to use inclusive language and language that reflects current terminology being used in Queer Studies. If you are unsure about what terminology your should use, contact your instructor for clarification about their expectations.

Here are some resources on best practices for LGBTQIA+ inclusive writing and communication:

Find Full-Text Articles with LibKey Nomad (Browser Extension)

LibKey Nomad is a browser extension that indicates the availability of full-text articles through the UWM Libraries or open access when you are searching the open web. LibKey Nomad works on publisher websites, PubMed, and Wikipedia to connect you to scholarly resources. If UWM does not have the full text, LibKey Nomad will route you to Search@UW with a link to a pre-filled InterLibrary Loan request.

To use LibKey Nomad:

  • Install the LibKey Nomad extension for your browser
  • Search for and select University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee from the list of institutions
    • The LibKey Nomad icon will appear in the top right of your browser window
  • Start your search
    • The LibKey Nomad icon will appear in the bottom left of your browser when you are on a page with resources available through UWM Libraries