You are here

Statement on Potentially Harmful Content

DigiNole includes historical and primary sources from many cultures and time periods. Some content or its description may be harmful and difficult to view. These materials may be graphic or reflect biases. In some cases, they may conflict with strongly held cultural values, beliefs or restrictions.

We provide access to these materials to preserve the historical record, but we do not endorse the attitudes, prejudices, or behaviors found within them.

Please approach the materials found on these sites with respect for the cultures and people they document.


Frequently Asked Questions

What harmful or difficult content may be found here?

Some items may:

  • Reflect white supremacist and imperialist views, including racist, sexist, ableist, and xenophobic opinions and attitudes.
  • Be biased against or exclude diverse views on sexuality, gender, ability, religion, and more.
  • Include graphic content such as violent death, medical procedures, crime, wars, natural disasters and more.
  • Demonstrate bias and exclusion in library collecting and digitization.
  • Depict traditional knowledge and offend against strongly held cultural prohibitions.


Why does FSU make this content available?

FSU Libraries and its partners collect, preserve, and present these materials as part of the historic record. Together, they work to balance the preservation of history with its sensitive display.


How is this material described? Why are some of the terms used harmful?

  • Librarians and archivists choose what language to use when describing materials. Some descriptions were written in the past and use language that was accepted at the time.
  • Librarians and archivists often re-use language provided by creators or former owners of the material. This can provide important context, but can also reflect biases and prejudices.
  • Librarians and archivists often use standardized sets of terms to describe materials. Some of these terms are outdated, offensive, or insensitive.
  • Communities with less privilege have had less control over how they are portrayed and described.
  • Librarians and archivists sometimes make mistakes or use poor judgment.

FSU libraries are working to assess and update harmful descriptions.


How are we addressing this issue?

We are:

  • Including warnings on collections with this type of content.
  • Prioritizing digitization of content from less privileged communities.
  • Working directly with misrepresented communities when describing them.
  • Revising and enhancing descriptions with more respectful, community-selected terms.
  • Creating new, more inclusive standardized terms.
  • Listening to users, researching to find solutions, and sharing our results.
  • Evaluating current policies for practices that prioritize one culture and/or group over another.
  • Training our contributors in inclusive partnerships, digitization, and description.


What happens if I report harmful content?

We encourage our users to report harmful content. We will determine whether to change or remove the content. The libraries will weigh potential harm, accurate preservation of the historical record, professional practices, and our resources. We will use all reports to better understand the issue and educate others.


This statement is modeled on the Digital Public Library of America statement on potentially harmful content. DPLA staff and its metadata working group drafted the DPLA statement. Outside experts and the DPLA Hub Network reviewed it before approval. Most of the language is from the adaptation created by the Digital Library of Georgia. The Digital Library of Georgia staff simplified the statement’s language to improve its readability based on Georgia Department of Education eighth grade reading levels.