Controlled Vocabularies: Characteristics, Value and Challenges
L. Fry, 2021 Showcase
: Controlled vocabularies, though unknown and unused by many searchers, are not valuable only for information retrieval. Rather, they are essential for the prior step, the organizing of knowledge in a manner that allows that retrieval of information. This paper examines the history and types of controlled vocabularies, from both the knowledge organization and information retrieval perspectives. It explores the debates over the value of these vocabularies in light of 1) advances that permit keyword searching and 2) the already omnipresent and still growing use of single white boxes to submit words or phrases for full-text searching. Possibilities for increasing the quality of controlled vocabularies by enriching them with material from searches or folksonomies are discussed, as are ways that growing computing power can assist. The increasing use of linked data is touched upon. The paper closes with a modest proposal for improving the standing—and understanding of—controlled vocabularies
Ms. Fry is an MLIS student who currently works in a public library. She first studied music history (M.A., U. of Pennsylvania), then shifted gears and went to law school (J.D., U. of Southern California). She practiced public interest law for more than 15 years, representing low income clients, especially survivors of domestic violence. After leaving practice she directed legal externship programs in law schools and finally made the switch to library school. Her interests are public libraries, social justice, and old books and manuscripts. She is still working to reconcile these disparate interests..