‘Change the Subject’ screening about labels, libraries and activism

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‘Change the Subject’ screening about labels, libraries and activism

The “Change the Subject” documentary tells the story of a group of Dartmouth College students whose effort to change an anti-immigrant sentiment in their library catalog took them all the way to the halls of Congress.

While researching immigration, a student kept encountering the term “illegal aliens” as a library subject heading. As a person who had grown up undocumented in Georgia, she was disturbed by the subject heading that she considered a slur. So she and other students joined librarians in petitioning the Library of Congress to change its terminology.

The Henry Madden Library Diversity Committee will host a free, public screening of the documentary from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, at the Madden Library (Room 2206).  

“Change the Subject” shows how an instance of campus activism entered the national spotlight, and how a library cataloging term became a flashpoint in the national immigration debate. The story of these students’ journey also considers the ways language can be weaponized to divide and dehumanize people.   

“We hope this screening will contribute awareness to the Fresno State community by showing viewers what activism can do,” said Sarah Pech, chair of the Henry Madden Library Diversity Committee. “Also, it reminds us all how important the role of libraries and education institutions are in providing social and academic growth opportunities, both negatively and positively. We hope the screening contributes to the community in such a way where individuals are able to feel comfortable in expressing their thoughts and opinions on all subjects.” 

Dr. Yuleinys A. Castillo, an assistant professor in the Department of Counselor Education and Rehabilitation at Fresno State, will mediate a discussion after the screening. The trailer for the film can be viewed on YouTube

For more information on the film or the Library Diversity Committee, contact Sarah Pech at 559.278.3009 or pechsar@mail.fresnostate.edu.

(Written by Heather Parish)