Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Vocabulary as a central concept in Information Science

Abstract: "The nature and role of vocabulary in information systems is examined. "Vocabulary" commonly refers to the stylized adaptation of natural language to form indexes and thesauri. Much of bibliographic access, filtering, and information retrieval can be viewed as matching or translating across vocabularies. Multiple vocabularies are simultaneously present. A simple query in an online catalog normally involves at least five distinct vocabularies: those of the authors; the cataloger; the syndetic structure; the searcher; and the formulated query.

Vocabulary can be defined as the range (or repertoire) of values in any field of bibliographic description and, in a more extended sense, the range of types in a set at any level (word, field, collection, and library). Digital libraries can be represented by a simple recursive model composed of sets ("collections") and two kinds of operation on the sets.

Vocabulary problems are central to the economics of digital libraries because unfamiliar vocabulary reduces search effectiveness. Issues of identity are central to Library and Information Science because of the indexical role of vocabulary. Vocabulary is a central component in digital libraries. Problems inherent in vocabulary help explain the nature and history of conceptions of Library and Information Science."