Interesting interview with Patricia Harpring, managing editor of the Getty Vocabulary Program, which is in charge of four widely-used arts-related terminologies. The interview presents a behind-the-scenes look at vocabulary and standards maintenance and development at a leading museum and research institution.
You’ll also find some beautiful photography of the Getty Center and its surroundings (which, on a personal note, has me longing for the Californian landscape – believe it or not, it’s been almost 13 years since I visited, and I remember being blown away by the view from the Getty and the nature surrounding it).
Of course librarians have known for a long time how important controlled vocabulary is for subject access. The blog post “Integrating taxonomies with search” underscores the value of terminology control and highlights four techniques which improve the search experience using taxonomies.
The example screenshot in the post is from CAB Direct, a source of reference for applied life science articles (introductory video). There’s a special section in CAB Direct dedicated to the CAB thesaurus where you can browse or search for specific terms.
The databases CAB Abstracts and Global Health which underlie the database platform are maintained by CABI, a non-profit international organization in the agricultural and environmental sector.
It’s encouraging to read the conclusion that “integrating taxonomies with search is therefore at heart a business issue” – it shows that the importance of structured subject access is recognized (in the corporate sector too, for that matter), and it should make librarians confident that we have a real value to bring to the table.
“Bridging end users’ terms and AGROVOC Concept Server Vocabularies” is a poster by Ahsan Morshed, Gudrun Johannsen, Johannes Keizer and Marcia Lei Zeng presented at this year’s International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications.
AGROVOC, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s multilingual thesaurus, consists of terms collected by literary or institutional warrant. Since this approach excludes the users’ terms for concepts (which turn out to be different in many cases), synonym rings are used in information retrieval to map users’ search terms to the controlled vocabulary of the thesaurus. Yet another example of the importance of user contributions and having users identify their subjects with their own vocabulary, in a multilingual environment to boot. Another question that comes to mind is: should we say goodbye to “preferred” terms? Preferred in whose view? Maybe we could even introduce a scope for “preferred” – preferred by researchers, by the interested public…
The knowledge organization system in use at FAO, aptly called AGROVOC Concept Server, has a number of topic maps features (like mapping between vocabularies, expression of relationships), which are notable for their concept-centric – or should we say subject-centric – approach. This approach and the use of synonym rings also requires a user interface that makes it clear which terms are considered synonyms if some of the results don’t include the user’s actual search term.