Knowledge Organization

The term Knowledge Organization (KO) originated in the field of Library Information Science (LIS) around 1900. KO is vital for the success of any public library. The term has different meanings with perspectives from different fields. In a broader perspective, KO implies classifying information socially, and defining concepts and relations between them.

In the LIS domain, KO has a meaning related to handling and managing knowledge resources systematically so that they become easily accessible.

What is Knowledge Organization?                                                       

In the context of public library, KO involves describing documents, indexing and cataloging, classifying and organizing the knowledge resources such as databases, archives, maps and other knowledge sources in various formats. It is conducted by information specialists, archivists, subject specialists, as well as computer algorithms.

Knowledge Organization – Different Approaches

There are various approaches to knowledge organization. They are as follows −

The Traditional Approach

It is the classification systems used in libraries and databases, including DDC, LCC and UDC (going back to about 1876). Melvil Dewey, a businessman tried to find out a standardized solution to manage library collections efficiently. He developed Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) that aided the library administrator more than the library user. The traditional approach of KO depends upon −

●      The principle of controlled vocabulary (avoiding synonyms and homonyms as indexing terms by using standardized vocabulary)

●      The Cutter’s rule about specificity (rule says that it is always the most specific, most appropriate expressions that should be referred in the vocabulary. This way the retrieving of topics is most predictable)

●      The Hulme’s principle of literary warrant (If the periodic system or notations of Chemistry can be used for classification)

●      Principle of organizing from the general to the specific. (Arrange from general subjects to specific subjects)

The Facet-Analytical Approach

This approach was propounded by Dr. Ranganathan around 1933. This approach is further developed by the British Classification Research Group. Given subjects or book titles are analyzed for a few common categories termed as facets. Dr. Ranganathan proposed his Personality, Matter, Energy, Space and Time (PMEST) formula −

●      Personality => Unique characteristic of a subject

●      Matter => Physical material with which a subject is composed

●      Energy => Any action occurring with respect to the subject

●      Space => Geographic location of a subject

●      Time => The period associated with a subject

Today, this technique is used in exchanging metadata and developing web-pages using XML.

The Information Retrieval (IR) Tradition

This approach was founded in the mid-20th century around 1950. It optimistically assumes that the user query contains all the information needed to search. It is based on statistical averages and it does not consider different types of queries and algorithms can serve different users with varied interests.

User-Oriented Approach

This approach gained influence around 1970s. It is more user-friendly.

Bibliometric approach

It was developed in 1963. It is mainly based on the use of bibliographical references for organizing networks of papers, articles, or web pages. This approach employs bibliographic coupling. This approach can be used to provide candidate terms for thesauri and supplementary terms.

The Domain Analytic Approach

This approach came around 1994. This approach recognizes a dilemma — In order to select the term, one needs to have a prior understanding of the field. On the contrary, in order to understand the field, one needs to know the term. This approach tries to solve this dilemma using iterative methods.

Types of Documents

A document is a written, drawn, or recorded thought on paper or other material. There are various types of documents −

Conventional Documents

These documents are recorded by writing, typing, printing, or some near-printing process, essentially in natural language in various scripts on silk, cloth, bark, leaves, walls, and paper. Maps are also conventional documents.

●      Volume − A field of embodied thoughts spread across multiple papers or other material fastened or combined together.

●      Macro Document − The document that embodies macro thought in one or more volumes.

●      Host Document − Macro document viewed from the perspective of document forming part of the same.

●      Micro document − The document that embodies micro thought, usually forms a part of the host document.

●      Periodic Publications − The document with attributes of periodicity, year of publication, and volume number.

●      Supplement − It can be a periodic, a book, or a special supplement.

●      Books − It can be of simple, composite, ordinary or artificially composite types.

●      Restricted Document − The document intended to be distributed only to selected institutions and individuals.

●      House Document − The document produced by a commercial, industrial, or other similar institution and intended for use only within it.

●      Private Document − The document intended only for private circulation.

●      Secret Document − The document intended not to be circulated beyond a named group of users.

●      Copyright Document − The document abided to the copyright encumbrance, which cannot be reproduced without the consent of the owner of the copyright.

●      Non-copyright Document − The document free from copyright encumbrance and available to be reproduced without anyone’s consent.

Neo-Conventional Documents

They include data of natural sciences, patents, standards, specifications, reaction or molecular formulae in Chemistry, medical data, and news regarding social sciences are all forms of Neo-Conventional Documents.

●      Standard − Research, Layman, Elementary, and Reporting are typical standards.

●      Patent − Government authority for excluding competitors to claim, make, or sell an invention.

●      Data − Specifications and facts.

Non-Conventional Document

They include the following types −

●      Audio Document

●      Visual Document

●      Audio-Visual Document

Cataloging of Documents

The first cataloging of books must have come into existence when it became difficult to remember the location and other details of the library material from a sufficiently large collection of material only by memory.

Cataloging is the systematic listing and organization of the knowledge resources such that they can be retrieved easily.

Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (AACR)

AACRs cover the description of and the provision of access points for all the library materials commonly collected today. The American Library Association from US and the Library Association from UK, who both were working to develop catalogs formally agreed in 1904 to cooperate in setting cataloging rules.

The first edition of AACR was published in North American texts and British texts in 1967. Both texts of AACR contained three parts: Part I of Entry and Heading, Part II of Description, and Part III of rules for Non-book materials.

Cooperative Cataloging Council (CCC)

The CCC is a body of representatives responsible from the Library of Congress and other public libraries. It participates in cataloging programs. It is responsible for

●      Determining goals and planning the timeline for achieving the same

●      Implementing the identified requirements

●      Identifying the topical issues

●      Examining the issues related to cataloging

●      Making suggestions and recommendations to the Library of Congress, the oldest research and national library that officially serves the United States Congress.

Sears List of Subject Headings

The Sears List of Subject Headings is a database that contains a list of headings with patterns and examples that guides the cataloger to create further headings when required. Since its first edition in 1923, the Sears list has been serving small and medium libraries. The objective of building this database is to make the library collections easily available to its users.

Gradually new editions kept coming and the latest 21st edition of the Sears List today contains more than 250 subject headings which is available in both; print and online format. The online Sears List can be browsed and searched for a particular heading.

Subject Organization

The Indian Library Science Expert Dr. Ranganathan defined subject as an assumed term. Subject is very important in the domain of library when it comes to organizing, managing, and maintaining the knowledge resources in the library. Subject term as well as its meaning is vital for quick retrieval of the information.

The most relevant subject matter helps the cataloger and the library staff to understand and identify the knowledge element efficiently.

Bibliographic Organization or Bibliographic Control

Bibliography is the systematic and meticulous list of resources referred by an author. It also includes references of music, videos, and audios, or encyclopedias and dictionaries, apart from other pieces of written work.

Bibliographic Organization or control involves all the operations required to organize the recorded information according to the established standards so that it can be retrieved easily. There are three types of Bibliographic control −

●      Enumerative (listing references according to certain arrangement)

●      Analytical (listing references according to the history, book’s physical properties, and texts)

●      Annotated (Listing references according to the topic and author’s annotations).

Book Number Organization

Book numbers (also called item numbers) combine with collection numbers and class numbers to form call numbers. Book numbers provide a manner to organize and order books of the same subject that share the same class number.

Book numbers are the last step in classification. This step assigns a unique place to a book in a collection. Book numbers are an important part of classification and cataloguing in the library. While choosing a book number it is decided whether to arrange books alphabetically by author name or chronologically by year of publication.


●      Book Number = Author number + Title (or work) + Edition mark + Publication Date + Volume Number + Copy Number

●      Call Number = Class Number + Book Number with Collection number at the start or end

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