Facets and Controlled Vocabularies: An Annotated Bibliography

Prepared by Karl Fast, Fred Leise and Mike Steckel


This bibliography is design to accompany the following articles:

We plan on expanding the list of items below as we continue to publish the various articles in our series.

There are many excellent books and articles related to the subject of facets and controlled vocabularies, some more accessible than others. We have tried to limit ourselves here to books and articles that are particularly useful and, in most cases, easy to obtain. You should find them to be of particular value.

The bibliography is organized by the following topics:

Content Organization

The Intellectual foundations of information organization. Elaine Svenonius. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000.

Svenonius is well known in the world of cataloguing, classification, and controlled vocabularies. Yet this recent and comprehensive book is neither easy reading nor a how-to guide. If you are looking for a serious treatment of the principles underlying all aspects of this subject, including aspects we have not covered in this series of articles, look no further. But this book, as the title suggests, is intellectually deep.

Organizing Knowledge: An Introduction to managing access to information. 3d ed. Jennifer Rowley and John Farrow. Burlington, VT: Gower, 2000.

If the Svenonius book sounds too much like philosophical, tweed jacket stuff, and you are looking for some practical information on metadata practices and the concepts behind them, start with this book. It is an excellent bridge between the world of librarianship and the world of IA. Then read Svenonius.


Controlled Vocabularies

A Taxonomy Primer. Amy Warner. http://www.lexonomy.com/publications/aTaxonomyPrimer.html



Facet analysis: Using faceted classification techniques to organize site content & Structure. Luise Gruenberg. http://www.asis.org/Conferences/Summit2002/Gruenberg.ppt (PowerPoint presentation)

Faceted classification: A guide to the construction and use of special schemes. B.C. Vickery. London: Aslib, 1968.

A slim volume, not even 75 pages, this is a practical and excellent guide to faceted classification. Too bad it's so hard to find. It was originally published in 1960. It was reprinted in 1968 with additional material. If you want a copy, your best bet is a large academic library. It can sometimes be found through online used bookstores, but it can be expensive.

Faceted classifications and thesauri. Barbara Perles. http://is.gseis.ucla.edu/impact/f95/Papers-projects/Papers/perles.html

A simplified model for facet analysis: Ranganathan 101. Louise Spiteri. Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science. 1998, v23, 1-30.

Using faceted classification to assist indexing. Fred Leise. http://www.contextualanalysis.com/publications-usingfacets.htm



Indexing from A to Z. Wellisch, Hans. (1995).. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1995.

There are many indexing books out there, but this is the one I usually turn to first. It is written more as a reference book than one to read cover to cover. It is arranged as an alphabetical list of indexing topics—from Abbreviations to Zen (really!). This one is much less boring than the other books I've found on indexing; there is clearly some value in that.



Metacrap: Putting the torch to seven straw men of the meta-utopia. Cory Doctorow, Version 1.3, 26 August 2001. http://www.well.com/~doctorow/metacrap.htm.

Cory Doctorow offers a funny critique of how metadata structures are often created when there is more enthusiasm about information sharing than deep thinking about its difficulties. While the piece greatly oversimplifies metadata issues in order to make us laugh, the insights are good to keep in the back of your mind when you are talking about or creating controlled vocabularies.

Metadata creation—down and dirty. James L. Weinheimer. http://www.princeton.edu/~jamesw/mdata/MetadataCreation.html

Metadata: cataloging by any other name…. Jessica Milstead and Susan Feldman. Online, January 1999. (Available at: http://www.onlinemag.net/OL1999/milstead1.html)


Ranganathan, S. R.

Ranganathan for IAs: An introduction to the thought of S. R. Ranganathan for Information Architects. Mike Steckel. Boxes & Arrows, October 7, 2000. http://www.boxesandarrows.com/archives/ranganathan_for_ias.php

A simplified model for facet analysis: Ranganathan 101. Louise Spiteri. Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science. 1998, v23, 1-30.

A Tribute to S. R. Rantanathan, the father of ndian library science. Part I. Life and Works (http://www.garfield.library.upenn.edu/essays/v7p037y1984.pdf). Part 2. Contribution to Indian and International Library Science (http://www.garfield.library.upenn.edu/essays/v7p045y1984.pdf Eugene Garfield. In Essays of and Information Scientist. Philadelphia, ISI Press (1984)


Search Techniques

The design of browsing and berrypicking techniques for the online search interface. Marcia J. Bates. http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/bates/berrypicking.html.


Thesaurus Construction

Thesaurus construction and use: A practical manual. 4th ed. Jean Aitchison, Alan Gilchrist, & David Bawden. Chicago, London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2002.

The original edition was published in 1972 and has been an authoritative text ever since. You should have no trouble finding a copy. The book is organized into twelve sections and covers everything, from the basic through international standards and beyond. The book makes no claims to being an introductory book, but (according to the Introduction) "should nevertheless be and adequate guide to the competent compilation of most thesauri." In our experience it's an invaluable book, one of the best available.