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Monday, February 20, 2012

Organizing Information

There are three major themes for this week. There are classification schema, cataloging schema, and metadata and tagging for electronic and digital resources.  Since I got carried away with video podcasts you probably don’t want to read more about the topic this week.

Here are some different ways to think about the topic.
One is by pointing to the physical location of an item. Classification schema do this, and the location is called a call number or shelf mark number. These numbers aggregate items together by that particular, usually dominant subject.  Dewey Decimal Numbers, Cutter numbers, Library of Congress Call numbers, SuDoc (Superintendent of Documents) Call number (for gov docs) are just a few call number schema.

There are classification schema which provide access to subjects within books and journals. These subjects are designated using fixed or controlled vocabulary found in thesauri, in Sears Subject Headings, or Library of Congress Subject Headings. Tags are the natural language “equivalents” of subject headings where users use vocabulary that is not controlled and varies quite widely. The great thing about subject headings is that you can assign many to an item while it is located in just one location in the library.  See Dr. Rubin’s example about Darwin’s Origin of the Species in the chapter

Then there are the catalogs themselves. Books, archives, and some museum collections are catalogs using MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging). Each identifiable element of a book or object is typed into a specific field. The fields are then displayed by the catalog interface. There are more fields with data than are normally shown by the public access terminal or OPAC. Other catalog encoding systems include ARC and EAD. Dublin Core is a system that allows the use of natural language to identify the various objects cataloging or held within the database. Dublin Core usually, but not always, describes digital objects.

Metadata is compiled to describe the various features and attributes of digital objects and databases. It is actually data about data and is used for organizing and controlling or keeping track of digital resources, their methods of creation, and components.

Dr. Salaba referenced this link in her talk about metadata. It leads to a metadata standards map -

There are ways to provide access points to books, journals, and other sources of data. One is an index arranged by author, title, and various subject headings. We are all familiar with this form of access method. There are indices to journals in a subject area, where subject headings and subheadings provide access to various articles written that month, year, or even decade. These have evolved into proprietary or ‘domain dependent’ databases such as Library Literature Index. Even JSTOR might be considered such an index.

Since I spoke at length about these various topics in my video podcasts, I’ll limit my explanation to those above. Let me know if you have questions, which will undoubtedly be answered more fully when you take “Organization of Information” and “Cataloging”.

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