Knowledge organisation systems in digital libraries : a comparative study.

, and . Information Studies 12 (4): 229-257 (2006)


This article presents the preliminary results of a study of the Knowlededge Organisation Systems (KOS) used in major digital libraries (DLs) of the world.While traditional libraries had evolved certain norms and systems the kinds of KOS being used in DLs vary. The dynamic nature of the DLs, the retrieval capability of the digital environments and the ‘black box’ nature of the systems have made the knowledge about KOS in DLs difficult to perceive and comprehend. Hence there is need to study in depth the knowledge organization (KO) tools, such as library classifications, thesauri and subject heading systems and the knowledge representation (Ontologies) used in DLs. This article gives a comparative study of DLs and summarizes the present scenario of KOS in these DLs. DLs are a decade old now. The KOS development in these DLs shows variety and diversity in the components of KOS like term lists, classification and categories and relationship list components in each category. Also there appears to be no norms in the use of KOS. There is a need to carry out a study of KOS used in DLs. Examples of such KOS include classification systems such as CC, DDC, UDC, etc for KO. Earlier libraries adopted traditional Knowledge Organisation activities, which were using various tools such as classification schemes; cataloguing, indexing etc have played a prominent role in organising documents in a collection. In recent years this process has been challenged by developments in information technology. The new electronic environments pose a threat and challenge to the theory and practice of knowledge organisation. Documents can be approached in electronic retrieval activities in ways not necessarily depend on ‘classical’ knowledge organisation activities such as indexing and classification. Accordingly, an argument stating the qualitative difference of knowledge organisation in the new electronic environments must show that knowledge organisation is worth pursuing and that is a valuable support to users of information retrieval (IR) systems.

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