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Over the past couple of decades, the field of knowledge organization systems (such as taxonomies and thesauri) has matured. This maturation has led KOS experts to write books that consolidate and share the theories, insights, and techniques that have emerged. Below is a roundup of some of the more recent books in the area of taxonomies and related knowledge organization systems.
One of the most recent books, published as a trio of monographs, is The Taxobook, written by Access Innovations President Marjorie Hlava and published by Morgan & Claypool Publishers. TaxoDiary recently had a blog post about The Taxobook. We’ll reiterate the summary:
Volume 1, The Taxobook: History, Theories, and Concepts of Knowledge Organization, introduces the foundations of classification, covering theories from the ancient Greek philosophers to modern thinkers. This volume also includes a glossary that covers all three volumes.
Volume 2, The Taxobook: Principles and Practices of Taxonomy Construction, outlines the basic principles of creation and maintenance of taxonomies and thesauri. It also provides step-by-step instructions for building a taxonomy or thesaurus and discusses the various ways to get started on a taxonomy construction project.
Volume 3, The Taxobook: Applications, Implementation, and Integration in Search, covers putting taxonomies into use in as many ways as possible to maximize retrieval for users.
The Accidental Taxonomist
The Accidental Taxonomist is the most comprehensive guide available to the art and science of building information taxonomies. Heather Hedden—one of today’s leading writers, instructors, and consultants on indexing and taxonomy topics—walks readers through the process, displaying her trademark ability to present highly technical information in straightforward, comprehensible English.
Drawing on numerous real-world examples, Hedden explains how to create terms and relationships, select taxonomy management software, design taxonomies for human versus automated indexing, manage enterprise taxonomy projects, and adapt taxonomies to various user interfaces. The result is a practical and essential guide for information professionals who need to effectively create or manage taxonomies, controlled vocabularies, and thesauri.
Introduction to Controlled Vocabularies: Terminologies for Art, Architecture, and Other Cultural Works
This book, originally published in 2010 by J. Paul Getty and revised in 2013, focuses on controlled vocabularies for the world of museums and cultural studies. Author Patricia Harpring is managing editor of the Vocabulary Program at the Getty Research Institute, which maintains some highly respected thesauri and other controlled vocabularies, including the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT), the Union List of Artist Names (ULAN), the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN), and the Cultural Objects Name Authority (CONA). Co-author Murtha Baca is Head of Digital Art History at the Getty Research Institute. Here’s the Institute’s description of the 2013 revision:
This primer on the characteristics, scope, uses, and methods for building and maintaining controlled vocabularies for art and cultural materials explains how vocabularies should be integrated in cataloging systems; utilized for indexing and retrieval; and structured to group synonyms and arrange concepts into categories.
The updated edition reflects recent developments in the field, including new national and international standards, current trends such as Linked Open Data, and revisions to the Getty vocabularies. The glossary and bibliography have also been updated.
Structures for Organizing Knowledge: Exploring Taxonomies, Ontologies, and Other Schema
This book, published in 2010 by Neal-Schuman Publishers, was written by June Abbas, whose research focuses on the development of user-centered digital libraries, institutional repositories, and knowledge organization structures. In the Preface, she outlines the three major sections of the book:
Traditional Structures for Organizing Knowledge—Part I looks at structures used in libraries, such as MARC records, subject headings, and classification schemes, as well as traditional structures that may not be as familiar, such as those from natural science. The historical contributions to the organization of knowledge from fields such as library and information science, philosophy, natural science, and cognitive science are examined. Exemplars of how the structures have remained the same and/or have been adapted for use in the digital environment are also included in this section.
Personal Structures for Organizing Knowledge are the focus of Part II. These are systems developed by individuals in both home- and work-related contexts. Several research streams from library and information science (knowledge organization and human information behavior) and human–computer interaction (personal information management) are introduced, and research in each area of personal knowledge structures is explored.
Socially-Constructed Structures for Organizing Knowledge, or those that are beginning to merge as the result of individual and collaborative uses of social bookmarking and social cataloging Web 2.0 sites, are examined in Part III. Research focused on these new environments is becoming more prevalent and providing information professionals with a glimpse into how people organize their own collections.
In 2008, the American Library Association published the first edition of this book by Marcia Lei Zeng and Jian Qin, two experts in the field of knowledge organization systems and in the metadata connected with those systems. The second edition is scheduled to be released in 2016. Here’s the ALA’s description of the new edition:
Metadata remains the solution for describing the explosively growing, complex world of digital information, and continues to be of paramount importance for information professionals. Providing a solid grounding in the variety and interrelationships among different metadata types, Zeng and Qin’s thorough revision of their benchmark text offers a comprehensive look at the metadata schemas that exist in the world of library and information science and beyond, as well as the contexts in which they operate. Cementing its value as both an LIS text and a handy reference for professionals already in the field, this book
Lays out the fundamentals of metadata, including principles of metadata, structures of metadata vocabularies, and metadata descriptions
Surveys metadata standards and their applications in distinct domains and for various communities of metadata practice
Examines metadata building blocks, from modeling to defining properties, and from designing application profiles to implementing value vocabularies
Describes important concepts as resource identification, metadata as linked data, consumption of metadata, interoperability, and quality measurement
Offers an updated glossary to help readers navigate metadata’s complex terms in easy-to-understand definitions
An online resource of web extras, packed with exercises, quizzes, and links to additional materials, completes this definitive primer on metadata.
Organising Knowledge: Taxonomies, Knowledge and Organisational Effectiveness
In the first half of this book we’ll challenge a number of assumptions about taxonomies and the work of taxonomy building, and relate this work to organization effectiveness and knowledge management.…
In the second half of this book, we take a more practical approach and guide you through the steps involved in a ‘typical’ taxonomy project. Here we challenge the assumption that taxonomy development can be done in the abstract, by a consultant, sitting apart from the information and knowledge world of the organisation it is intended for. Very few taxonomies can be developed in that distant, unengaged way.…
To close, in Chapter 10 we take a forward look at issues and challenges on the horizon for knowledge managers. What do the semantic web, folksonomies, ontologies and social tagging mean for taxonomy work? Will we need taxonomies at all?
Those of us involved with TaxoDiary believe that taxonomies, thesauri, and other controlled vocabularies will continue to be relevant to knowledge management and information retrieval. And we look forward to seeing new insights and approaches, and new books.
Barbara Gilles, Taxonomist
Access Innovations, Inc.