Origins of the knowledge organization field

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary


The conceptual origins of knowledge organization (KO) as a field of study
within the broader field of library and information science are examined by
tracing the use of the term and related ones, including information
organization (IO) and bibliographic control in the literature, and by surveying
the educational texts dealing with the various component activities of KO
practice, along with reports and discussions of corresponding curricula,
across the twentieth century. Analysis reveals that the notion of a single,
composite field covering cataloguing, classification, indexing and the other
KO activities, only became established in the late Twentieth century,
mirroring the broadening of the library and information science curriculum
toward that advocated by the “iSchool” movement. Prior to this, three
phases of curriculum development are identified: the teaching of cataloguing
and classification as distinct fields in the initial decades of library science
education; these two activities then being taught as the combined field of
“cat and class”; and, from the 1960s onwards, a growing coverage of other
bibliographic control activities, such as those emphasizing the “subject
approach” to information access. This last phase can be seen as a precursor
to the establishment of KO (or IO) as a generic field of study within the
“information” curriculum.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationISKO Encyclopedia of Knowledge Organization
EditorsBirger Hjørland, Claudio Gnoli
PublisherInternational Society for Knowledge Organization
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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