Demonstrate understanding of basic principles and standards involved in organizing information such as classification and controlled vocabulary systems, cataloging systems, metadata schemas or other systems for making information accessible to a particular clientele.
The organization of information is not only one of the core tenets of information management, it is one of the pilar stages in the information management lifecycle. “Organizing is a human activity that facilitates the ability to find things, locate information, and assemble and maintain a usable record of human endeavors” (Hall-Ellis, 2015, p.139). To deliver in this phase of organization, information professionals rely on different systems and strategies with the information they manage so that the information can be easily retrieved and utilized. In fact, successful retrieval of information is completely dependent upon the organization of that information, whether it involves an intricate approach such as archival finding aids, indexes, bibliographies, and databases, or a straightforward approach like alphabetical organization (Taylor & Joudrey, 2018).
Among the available strategies to organize information to enable and expedite retrieval, information professionals employ a number of techniques and tools, among these, cataloging, classification, controlled vocabularies, thesauri, and metadata schemas (Taylor & Joudrey, 2018). Materials that enter a collection must be classified to be arranged, which is part of the process of cataloging, which also includes creating a description of the resource, choosing the names and titles to act as access points for the resource, performing authority work to ensure that the names and titles are consistent with similar resources, analyzing the subject matter, choosing classification notations or subject headings using a controlled vocabulary, and creating call numbers for tangible resources (Taylor & Joudrey, 2018). In creating a description, the first cataloging step, the information professional creates a brief representation of the facts or characteristics of the resource so that it can be easily found and understood (Taylor & Joudrey, 2018). The description should have enough information about the resource so that it can be uniquely identified, but brief enough that it can act as a filter, allowing users to quickly identify a resource as suiting their needs (Taylor & Joudrey, 2018). These descriptions serve as the starting points of the metadata encoding that aids in discoverability of a resource. The profession uses defined metadata standards, or schemas, that allow information to be uniformly captured and then leveraged for discoverability and administrative tasks. Many of the metadata schemas are specific to different types of content or industries, with Dublin Core, MARC, EAD, MODS, ContentDM, and Mets, the most popular schemas used by historical societies, special collections, archives, and libraries (Hall-Ellis, 2015). Many of these schemas were adopted “to meet the needs of describing special collections, archives, digitized materials, and resources that were ‘born-digital’ (Hall-Ellis, 2015, p.143),” and new proprietary or domain-specific schemas such as IPTC, DACS, VRA Core, CDWA, CCO, TEI, and PBCore continue to become available to aid in the management of particular domains of assets (Taylor & Joudrey, 2018).
The agents of the metadata schema are the values that are used to populate the schema’s categories, which are often a controlled vocabulary. While the metadata delivers the aboutness of a resource in predicable category fields, the controlled vocabulary further aids in the discoverability of an item by allowing the user to query and browse the information using predictable terms. The controlled vocabulary has a few purposes: it can provide subject access terms, aid in the collocation of similar records, provide synonyms to aid in subject searching, and to save users’ time by giving them terms that will result in relevant content, removing the guesswork (Taylor & Joudrey, 2018). A thesaurus of the controlled vocabulary helps aids in understanding the structure of the terms within the hierarchy, and guiding people to the preferred terms within the controlled list.
Classification schemes are a tool libraries and information centers use to arrange content using a hierarchical approach. The most common classification schemes are the Library of Congress Classification Scheme, adopted by academic, special libraries, and large public libraries, the Dewey Decimal Classification Scheme, adopted by many public libraries and schools, and the National Library of Medicine Classification Scheme, adopted by medical collections (Hall-Ellis, 2015). The systems created by information professionals may be used to retrieve information in a traditional sense, but retrieval systems may also be used for organizational functions such as legal or regulatory obligations (Fraser-Arnott, 2015). This ability to organize and retrieve information can be applied to “data management, information management, and knowledge management projects” (Fraser-Arnott, 2015, p.110).
Much of the coursework I had at the SJSU School of Information guided my professional understanding of the tools and processes of information organization, particularly the activities and research performed in INFO256 Archives & Manuscripts, the intricacies of classification revealed in INFO 248 Beginning Cataloging and Classification, the deliverables created in INFO 284 Tools, Services, and Methodologies for Digital Curation, the plans and strategies addressed in INFO284 Electronic Records, the schemas researched in INFO281 Metadata, the engaging activities and discussions in INFO247 Vocabulary Design, and the work and research from INFO202 Information Retrieval System Design. These courses guided my introduction to the components of information organization and through the challenging assignments in those courses I’ve demonstrated my competence with the core elements of organization.
I selected this assignment as a demonstration of my competency because in completing this assignment I created ten MARC records for different works of nonfiction. These records included both the LCC (Library of Congress Classification) and DDC (Dewey Decimal Classification) notations, and they also included the authority records for the authors and the subject headings for each.
I selected this assignment as a demonstration of my competency in thesaurus construction, because of the exhaustive work I did in the group assignment determining the facets that populated the controlled vocabulary. In this assignment, I also took the lead in organizing the terms to identify the related terms, scope notes, broader terms, narrower terms, and preferred terms. Through this assignment I gained an exhaustive understanding of the work involved in determining core elements and designing a controlled vocabulary.
I submit this assignment as evidence of this competency because in it I identified keywords from the text that should act as subject headings, then strategically eliminated unnecessary terms, and grouped the remaining terms that had similar topics or subtopics and used them to create an index for a body of work, one of the core elements of organization.
I will use the knowledge I gained on the principles of information organization in both my day to day professional tasks as well as large initiatives and projects. I learned how to identify facets, assemble a taxonomy to create a controlled vocabulary, and use that controlled vocabulary to build a thesaurus. I can see the value of constructing a thesaurus from the controlled terms within a taxonomy to create a data dictionary of sorts for informed tagging within a custom or standard metadata schema. Also, I learned how to categorize and classify information in a MARC format to include linked authority records and DCC and LCC information, that not only allows the contents to be discoverable within standard information retrieval systems, but also links that information dynamically to other resources.
Fraser-Arnott, M. (2015). Expanding the Horizon of the MLIS. In S. Hirsh (Ed.), Information Services today: An introduction (pp. 106–116). Rowman & Littlefield.
Hall-Ellis, S. D. (2015). Organizing Information. In S. Hirsh (Ed.), Information Services today: An introduction (pp. 139–148). Rowman & Littlefield.
Taylor, A. G., & Joudrey, D. N. (2018). Organization and Representation of Information. In K. Haycock & M.-J. Romaniuk (Eds.), The portable MLIS: insights from the experts (Second edition, pp. 153–170). Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC.