| By Jessica Bomarito, Product Manager, Literature |
A key mission of the Product team at Gale is to expand the possibilities of research, whether through content, tools, or discoverability. Over the years this mission has made visible the experiences of diverse groups, as evidenced by primary source resources like The Archives of Sexuality and Gender and Women’s Studies Archive, among others. Similarly, through Gale’s renowned reference publications, all helmed by experts in their fields, researchers have access to foundational information on neglected areas of study through reference works like Disability Experiences: Memoirs, Autobiographies, and Other Personal Narratives and St. James Encyclopedia of Hip Hop Culture.
Likewise, Gale’s database resources contain content from and about a diverse array of people and experiences. Helping researchers surface that content is key to truly expanding research possibilities. Database search tools like Topic Finder improve the visibility of diverse groups and enhance existing search paths.
It is in this spirit that today I am announcing enhancements to Gale’s Person Search (found in Gale Literature Resource Center and Gale In Context: Biography, among other Literature resources offered from Gale). While Person Search has always offered researchers a variety of search limiters to find people using criteria such as ethnicity and nationality, a recurrent request has been to ease the findability of people that are part of the LGBTQ+ community. With enhancements launched December 17, 2021, Gale now provides researchers with the ability to search by sexual orientation or gender identity.
In consultation with academic advisors, librarians, and subject matter experts, we are taking an inclusive approach with the LBGTQ+ limiter, rather than imposing constraints that are attached to modern-day terms that would result in an erasure of important historical figures. As in-product guidance describes, the limiter:
Allows you to narrow your search to find results for people within the LGBTQ+ community, people who were gender nonconforming, or people of historical significance to this community. Gale recognizes that the interpretation of data relating to an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity may change over time and is committed to updating our records on a regular basis.
Inclusion of people outside of the modern era was guided by advisor input and academic reference works as well as industry sources related to LGBTQ+ communities. By taking this inclusive approach we aim to provide researchers greater access to people and works important to current LGBTQ+ communities and movements, as well as people within these communities.
To help researchers evaluate Person Search results, selected limiters now display at the top of the results page. The number of people matching that criteria also display on the results page.
This search enhancement is just one more step in our mission to expand research possibilities around diverse figures. We look forward to continuing to evolve Gale’s databases as we partner with institutions across the globe to highlight and make visible the diverse content libraries share with the world.
Jessica Bomarito started her career at Gale in 2000, working on Gale’s Nineteenth Century Literature Criticism series. Since then she has served in a variety of roles and is currently an Acquisitions Editor, collaborating closely with professors, teachers, and librarians to develop new ideas for print and eBooks.