In the summer of 2021, members from the Alaska Library Network received an Interlibrary Cooperation Grant from the Alaska State Library, funded by the State of Alaska, to investigate the development and creation of a controlled vocabulary for Alaska Native Subject Headings. Controlled vocabularies provide a systematic way to organize knowledge to help bolster information retrieval. However, the vocabularies currently in use, notably the Library of Congress Subject Headings, do not comprehensively or appropriately represent Alaska Natives.

The grant will further research and develop a controlled vocabulary that properly represents Alaska Native communities to enhance accessibility for Alaska Natives, researchers of Indigenous Alaskan cultures, and colleagues. With approval and input from Alaska Native organizations and individuals, the vocabulary will use culturally appropriate subject headings to describe materials about Alaska Native communities, languages, beliefs, cultures, and more.

When completed, the Alaska Native Subject Headings will be implemented in the statewide Alaska Library Catalog and Alaska’s Digital Archives, which serves Alaskans across the state. From there, the group will petition the Library of Congress to update their subject headings, thereby making the vocabulary accessible to all.


  • To develop a controlled vocabulary containing the names of every Alaska Native group.
  • To enhance accessibility for Alaska Natives and researchers of Indigenous Alaskan cultures by implementing subject headings that are culturally appropriate.
  • To develop a roadmap for the Alaska Library Catalog and Alaska’s Digital Archives to use these terms to describe materials and apply them to existing records in each collection.
  • To work with the Alaska Library Catalog Systems team and Cataloging Workgroup to implement this controlled vocabulary to describe materials in the Alaska Library Catalog, a consortium of 87 public, academic, special, and K-12 libraries who serve 92% of the population of Alaska through a shared catalog with 3.2 million titles.
  • To work with Alaska’s Digital Archives to implement this controlled vocabulary to describe historical photographs, albums, oral histories, moving images, maps, documents, physical objects, and other materials from archives, museums, and libraries throughout Alaska.
  • To develop a plan to petition the Library of Congress to add the new terms to the Library of Congress Subject Headings.

This project is supported by an Interlibrary Cooperation (ILC) Grant from the Alaska State Library and is funded by the State of Alaska.


  • Chair – Lisa Digou, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Co-Chair – Tyson Rinio, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Principal Investigator – Rebecca Moorman, University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Secretary – Jenna Ginnaty, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Lead Cataloger – Lauren Wallace, University of Alaska Anchorage
  • David Cox II, University of Alaska Southeast

Emeritus Members

  • Erin Hollingsworth, North Slope Borough School District
  • Catherine Pool, Community Liaison, Alaska Library Network
  • Hope Roberts, Community Liaison, Alaska Library Network

Project Supporters

  • Arlene Schmuland, University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Kathy Arndt, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Project Updates

  • November 2022 – Research into topic areas and terminology in need of update.
  • September 2022 – Implementation plan submitted to the state. To view, please click here.
  • June 2022 – Hired two Community Liaisons.
  • May 2022 – Applications for the Community Liaison contract closed.
  • March 2022 – Presented at the AkLA 2022 conference.
  • January 2022 – Began search for Community Liaison(s).
  • December 2021 – Community Liaison(s) contractor description completed, budget created, the website developed and published, committee members began building connections.
  • August 2021 – The project’s first phase focused on identifying the need, investigating data, exploring standards, building a committee, writing a grant proposal, and the committee was formed and established regular meetings.
  • August 7, 2021 – Grant approved by the Alaska State Library.
  • April 9, 2021 – Grant Application submitted.


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