We started this week debunking a blog post, or repost by Jeff Carr, on the Early Site regarding myths about taxonomies and SharePoint. Today, let’s talk about Myth #3 – Librarians are the best people to handle SharePoint taxonomies.

In this paragraph J. Carr says “…………..tend to want to build comprehensive and exhaustive taxonomies” and I don’t think so. Most people understand the difference between a large indexing taxonomy for millions of documents and an ecommerce navigation site of a few hundred items. They are simply NOT the same application. Although it may be that there is a very deep taxonomy built to accommodate the entire corpus the browse-able version may just be the first couple of levels with all other terms rolled up for automatic tagging into their broader terms. There is certainly an argument to be made to use concise language and work within the constraints of the application the taxonomy is being created for. These are not library skills but language and logic skills.

“…..a library science specialist who does not have the appropriate expertise…..” If the argument is actually to insure that there is information architecture expertise on the project then I heartily agree. These are not mutually exclusive skills. More than half of the library schools are now iSchools, schools of Library and Information Science. The LIS schools even have an association for their faculty Association for Library and Information Science Education ALISE which is quite active. They teach information architecture. The American Society for Information Science and Technology has an annual IA Summit meeting in which people of many back grounds come together to discuss Information Architectureissues. The meeting is a vibrant mix of library, information science, computer  science and a seemingly endless stream of other areas of expertise coming  together to work on the challenges and triumphs of making information more accessible. The next one is in New Orleans in March 2012.

I would think that the real point to be made is that professionals with “real” experience in Taxonomy work are needed. Forget the academic training. Think  of their track record, not assertions and marketing hype of hands on actions. It is what we do for a living and have for well over 30 years at Access  Innovations.

Marjorie M.K. Hlava

President, Access  Innovations

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in  thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.