Organizing Information – Chowdhury – Chapter 1

The introductory chapter of Chowdhury’s book presents organizational systems much the way we discussed them in class: they are a part of everyday life and something that everyone does. He gets in specifically about the classification systems used in libraries, which I liked because I used to be a library page and know all about that kind of thing. Allocating books into specific locations and arrangements was an arduous process, inevitable with bumps in the road along the way. (I recall a specific incident where I was shelving non-fiction books and discovered a copy of the Max Brooks novel ‘World War Z’ with a non-fiction call number. For the uninitiated, it’s about that time the human race nearly got wiped out by zombies. Which, I guess according to the librarian who had assigned the number, had actually happened. I digress, but basically if it had stayed in that section a user looking for it would have never been able to find it.)  I found it interesting that he reiterated the importance of not only actually organizing books into central databases or systems, but also shelf-wise where they would be placed in relation to one another. It goes back to the difficulty of trying to create a logical setup that lots and lots of different kinds of people would find intuitive and easy to use.

Chowdhury also discusses how these library systems have had to adapt, change, and be created anew with the relatively recent advent of web and digital based information. I think it’s interesting how these systems overlap, how library organization systems helped to create web-based ones and vice versa. They’re cataloging different things, but what they are organizing is similar types of information. He talks about defining how records should be constructed, and I think libraries played the important initial role in creating these specific organizational systems.

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One thought on “Organizing Information – Chowdhury – Chapter 1

  1. Very insightful post. I found the example of the “World War Z” novel being filed in non-fiction to be quite funny – and of course it underscored the chaos that would ensue without a previously agreed upon – and adhered to – set of rules for organizing/collocating/cataloging and so on.

    Michele

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