Feminist Search Engine


In collaboration with Utrecht-based art & research collective Read-in Hackers & Designers developed a Feminist Search Tool*,–a digital interface that invites users to explore different ways of engaging with the records of the Utrecht University Library, putting forth the question: Why are the authors of the books I read so white, so male, so Eurocentric?.

The tool has been developed in the context of the project Unlearning My Library. Bookshelf Research, and functions as an awareness-raising tool to stir conversations about the inclusion and exclusion mechanisms that are inherent to our current Western knowledge economy. To this end, the Feminist Search Tool invites us all to reflect about our own search inquiries, and how the latter may be directed by our own biases and omissions. More broadly, it raises the question about the different decisions taken that influence our searches: Who is taking responsibility for which part of the search process: we, the users, the researcher, the library, the algorithm? And how does this influence our search result?

The Feminist Search Tool works with a search field, which we all can use to type in our search question. We then search within a selection of the records of the Utrecht University Library of works published in the period of 2006 till 2016. The selection is made by Read-in and is based on a number of MARC21** fields, that Read-in thought would speak to the question: How many female non-Western authors and female authors of colour are represented in the Catalogue of the Utrecht University library?, such as language of publication, place of publication, type of publisher, ect. Through an interpretation of these fields, Read-in aims to offer different filters, through which to look at the records of the Utrecht University library.

The tool will be launched on the occasion of Zero Footprint Campus

Footnotes as written by Read-in for the website of the feminist search tool

  • Using the term Feminist Search Tool, it is important to shortly comment on our understanding of the term feminism, to provide a context, in which to read the Feminist Search Tool. Our commitment to and understanding of feminism is an intersectional one.
  • MARC21 (abbreviation for Machine-Readable Cataloguing) is an international standard administered by the Library of Congress; it is a set of digital formats used to describe items that are catalogued.

hackersanddesigners / fst / README.md