Weekly Response, Erin E. McCabe

On another class blog, we’re asked to tag our posts. Unfortunately we’ve reached an end to our allotment of possible tags now, and without the controlled vocabulary agreed on by the class beforehand, we’re left with a somewhat awkward assortment – including some especially horrific duplicates from misspelling. If only we’d collectively considered the many pros of a strong Controlled Vocabulary (CV) laid out in ““What is a Controlled Vocabulary” by Leise, Fast, and Steckel. If only we’d have known these are the terms we’d be stuck with!

Despite the frustration of having to use less than accurate tags, one of the results of an organically grown tag selection is that we can see what topics surfaced – like the word cloud feature on some blogs. If we were to look at this class over the semesters, I’m sure we could have a really interesting viewpoint on evolving discussions taking place in librarianship.

Controlled vocabulary (CV) has the aim of making material easier to locate, “increasing findability”. In a website – especially a commercial one – this makes perfect sense as a tidying tool. Expanding to an actual library’s collection though makes the use of CV much more complex. Of course the Gap doesn’t need a search box – I don’t know if that’s because of a good use of CV or just simply a lack of collection diversity. Their latest subway slogan is, “Dress Normal”.

So (during the radical cataloging class) we talked about a catalog’s ability to act as representative in terms of depicting a certain sense of cultural awareness and a hospitality to its users. Could the wrong or too strict CV give the impression that your collection is less than rich? I just know I’d be the type of CV designer who drowns its audience in RTs.

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About Erin E. McCabe

Publisher relations and content development assistant at JSTOR. Master's candidate in Library and Information Science at Pratt Institute.

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