As an academic librarian working on a research paper dealing with the collection development of documentary films about the Romani people and whether such films can dispel or deconstruct many of the cultural, historical, sometimes fanciful distortions and stereotypes confronting them today, I was nonetheless still surprised at the misconceptions I came across floating around in the popular imagination. The encounters I had with students, faculty, and librarians further alerted me as to how pervasive the misunderstandings of the dominant culture and its projected fantasies onto the Roma continue to be. The incidents span from the student who, after a campus screening of the film Our School, seriously reflects upon her “Gypsy” tattoo; to the editor of a prominent library journal who, in response to my query about submitting for publication an article on documentary films about the Roma, suggests that perhaps I can also address film collections for ethnic groups besides the Romanians. Other incidents include attending a library professional program where a representative of the Library of Congress confesses how at the last minute she deliberately omitted discussing the Library’s subject heading change from Gypsies to Romanies, because it was still a “controversial” issue. Working as I do in a field that prides itself in providing information and learning resources concerning issues of racism, representation, and diversity, it became clear to me that libraries can do so much more in the effort to properly portray the Romani reality.
Schiff, Rebecca, "Documenting Documentaries: Flotsam of Prejudice" (2017). CUNY Academic Works.