The defining characteristic of taxonomies is hierarchical relationships. It is vital to be sure the hierarchical development is accurate and the relationships are true. Generic relationships, as explained in ANSI/NISO Z39.19-2005 (page 47), identify the link between a class and its members or species. The generic relationship is generally called a Broader term/Narrower term relationship. In most cases, it’s easy in traditional biological taxonomy of organisms, because of its well-established and well-known groupings of phyla, genera, families, species, and so forth, e.g., Rodents and narrower term Squirrels.

Sometimes that isn’t so easy outside the biological taxonomy approach. For instance, look at what one of my colleagues encountered recently while searching for dryers at a local big box store:


Last time I checked, a VitaMix was not a dryer, nor was a sewing machine. Small appliances is probably what tripped up this classification, but it is important to keep close tabs on the relationships.

Any records management system requires a system of indexing to create findability. We know that good indexing against a strong, standards-based taxonomy can ensure comprehensive search results. Access Innovations is one of a very small number of companies able to help its clients generate ISO/ANSI/NISO compliant taxonomies to produce comprehensive results.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.