New Directions in Information Organization

Philip Hider (Head, School of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Australia)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 3 November 2014




Philip Hider (2014), "New Directions in Information Organization", The Electronic Library, Vol. 32 No. 6, pp. 928-929.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This book discusses current trends in the field of information organisation, with an emphasis on those occurring in the library sector. It is divided into three sections, which cover the three main areas of innovation: linked data, social tagging and next-generation catalogues.

In the opening chapter, Sharon Yang and Yan Yi Lee describe how the new cataloguing code, Resource Description and Access (RDA), is aligned to the Resource Description Framework and the Semantic Web standards. The benefit of this alignment is not discussed in detail, however. The following chapter is a similar advocacy for RDA, as one might expect from its author, namely, Barbara Tillett of the Library of Congress and the Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA. A little later in the book, Ziyoung Park and Heejung Kim make the case for linked data more broadly, outlining how libraries have begun to generate it. Nevertheless, Park and Kim admit that “in the current stage, we can’t experience directly the possibilities that linked data possess”. Perhaps the most interesting paper in the first section, though, is from Alan Poulter, who discusses the Functional Requirements of Subject Authority Data (FRSAD) model. He suggests that PRECIS (the indexing system implemented at the British Library in the 1970s and 1980s) would be a good candidate as a “test” vocabulary. With the related models of FRBR and FRAD now well established, there are signs that the knowledge organisation community is beginning to turn its attention to FRSAD, arguably a more challenging abstraction.

The second section of the book begins with an engaging account by Shawne Miksa on how cataloguers and end-users can work together to improve bibliographic access. Making effective reference to the recent literature, Miksa advocates for the “social cataloguer”, who not only combines expert and user metadata, but also helps motivate users to engage with the library catalogue. The following chapter, by Yunseon Choi, offers a comparative analysis of professional indexing and social tagging on BUBL, Intute and Delicious platforms, and concludes, not surprisingly, that the latter can improve search outcomes. In the third and final chapter of this section, Emma Stuart writes about how technology has changed the way in which photographs are organised, at both personal and social levels.

The book’s third section covers an assortment of topics around the implementation of next-generation catalogues. In the first chapter, a successful implementation of the open-source discovery tool, VuFind, is described. Next, Xi Niu provides a detailed account of faceted search in contemporary catalogues, with conclusions and recommendations based on her own doctoral research. In the third chapter, Elizabeth Cox and colleagues from Southern Illinois University discuss the benefits of making their library consortium’s I-Share system the default search interface, instead of their local online public access catalogue; they report a greater uptake of the inter-library loans service as a result. Finally, Sarah Theimer urges us to revisit metadata quality standards, which she thinks have been neglected in recent years, with librarians focussing more on interfaces and systems. She makes a point that may be obvious, but is all too frequently forgotten: “all metadata is not created equal”.

The editors’ concluding remarks are mostly a summary of the preceding chapters, but their final sentence points to what will surely be a critical theme in the future, as well as present, endeavours of the field:

[…] new directions in information organization will also necessarily entail fostering greater partnership and dialog among those who create, organize, provide, and use information in a world where the distinction between and among each has become increasingly indistinguishable.

Given that the “new directions” covered in the book are more “recent” than brand “new”, one might have expected them to have been discussed somewhat more critically, but the content nevertheless makes for a representative overview, for the non-expert, of current information organisation activities. The book might have benefitted, however, from a more detailed index (entries such as “Information”, with no subentries, are far too broad).

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