Re: Library science of indexing

Judith E. Grass (jgrass@CNRI.Reston.VA.US)
Fri, 02 Sep 1994 09:21:18 -0400

At 3:04 PM 9/1/94 +0200, Paul Everitt wrote:

>I have spent a lot of time with IAFA templates, ALIWEB, and now Harvest.
>What I am looking for now is just plain experiences -- how should I
>approach the "taxonomy" of this? What "library science" issues should I
>investigate (ISBN numbers, etc.)? Where can I go for more info?

For an idea just how difficult this issue is (and for a pretty
fair discussion of its 5,000+ year history) may I recommend:

Tom McArthur,
"Worlds of Reference: lexicography, learning and language from the
clay tablets to the computer"
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
Hardback 1986: ISBN 0.521 30637 X
Paperback 1988: ISBN 0 521 31403 8

This is probably out of print, but worth a trip to the library to find.
In short, classifying all human knowledge is a very difficult task
and one that human beings have participated in since the beginning of human
history. The systems that arise are deeply culturally conditioned,
impermanent, and context sensitive. You can easily spend a lifetime
(or two or three) working at this problem.

A good starting place might be a long discussion with some librarians,
maybe especially whoever directs the cataloging in a large university
library (or maybe someone on the library science faculty)?
There are books that lay out the classification systems used by the Library of
Congress and by various other cataloging schemes (Dewey Decimal, and The ACM
Computing Reviews abstracts has one of its own). A good reference
librarian could point you to some of these.

-- Judy Grass, CNRI