The main purpose of the course is to explore the basic issues involved in organizing and providing access control for Informational Objects. More specifically, the course will help students:
- Understand general principles, features and functions of systems for organizing and providing access to informational objects
- Understand the major likenesses and differences among such different traditions of practice in informational object control and access as library cataloging, indexing and abstracting, archival enterprise, records management, museum management, bibliography, website organization, and some limited treatment of additional systems in the business environment that describe and organize informational objects, such electronic document management systems.
- Establish a theoretical basis upon which to expand one's knowledge and expertise in the specific provisions and practices of one or more of those same traditions.
Upon completion of the course, each student will have been enabled to:
- Develop an initial understanding of systems and the general processes for building them
- Develop an awareness of the variety of informational objects in the universe of such objects
- Develop skills in viewing informational objects for the purposes of their representation in systems of access
- Gain practice in identifying informational object names, titles, and other attributes that are used for their identification and retrieval
- Become familiar with categories of metadata in metadata formats and develop elementary skills in creating metadata
- Develop an appreciation of the process and difficulties of determining such content attributes of informational objects as their subjects, forms, genres, intended audiences, etc.
- Develop an appreciation of the interplay between informational object attributes and their appearance in both structures and systems of access
- Provide evidence of having synthesized the elements of informational object access.
- Provide evidence of having become aware of the intellectual problems of representing informational objects
- Gain an understanding of the criteria underlying fundamental choices in the design of informational object retrieval systems.
General Approach to the Course
- This course will stress a unifying framework for viewing informational object access systems as well as the principles or commonalties among different traditions and methods for organizing and providing access to information, with illustrations of techniques and ideas taken from the various traditions and methods.
- This course will combine a central focus on representing and providing access to informational objects with an appropriate introduction to concerns about information form and content, clients, connections, and cultural context.
- This course will attempt wherever possible to follow a learning by exploration mode on the part of students by focusing on student discovery of issues, ideas, and practices. The means of this approach will be exercises designed to encourage students to identify essential issues and assess the questions and potential answers that such identified issues yield.
Concepts to Be Emphasized
- Certain features of systems--their content, their users, their use, and their environment, including their technological environment--have historically determined how the different traditions of practice have developed.
- The uses and users of information are important at every point in organizing and providing access to information, although how knowledge of users can be made to affect systems is not well understood.
- Matching the terms of information requests to terms in an information organization system is basic to the process of organizing and providing access to information.
- Informational objects are phenomena in their own right; therefore, observing their attributes lies at the root of adequately representing them.
- Data and metadata, much of it based on the attributes of informational objects, are fundamental in organizing and providing access to information.
- The two basic processes that underlie the representation of informational objects are describing the objects and providing access points (index terms, search keys, etc.) for them, although these two processes are not necessarily kept separate in an actual system.
- An understanding of the fundamental nature and operational characteristics of information retrieval systems is critical in organizing and providing access to information.
- The display of information and other features of interface design are separable from information system elements and structure.
Questions to Be Encountered
- What is a system?
- How is a system designed?
- What is an informational object or resource?
- What varieties and numbers of informational objects inhabit the universe of such objects?
- What are informational object attributes and which ones are useful for the retrieval of such objects in a system?
- What searching goals on the part of informational object users shape the kinds of informational object attributes that are important?
- How do different traditions of practice (i.e., bibliography, library cataloging, indexing and abstracting, museum organization, archival organization, records organization, and documentation/information retrieval organization) define what is a single informational object?
- What does it mean to identify and describe an informational object?
- What constitutes an adequate description of an informational object and in what ways is an informational object's self-description important for that task?
- What is metadata and how do information system metadata formats serve the purposes of informational object description and access?
- How do different traditions of practice go about describing and providing access to informational objects?
- What are the comparative strengths and weaknesses of controlled and uncontrolled languages in informational object access systems?
- How does one determine informational object content attributes such as subject, form and genre, audience, etc.?
- What is the value of providing structure in subject systems for informational object access?
- What kinds of structural properties are common in subject systems for informational object access?
- What are the chief elements of informational object access systems as systems?
- How might users' needs affect informational object access system creation and development?
Readings and Class Conduct
Since the success of this course greatly depends upon class interaction and joint exploration of ideas, attendance in each class is critical. This course will consist of several interwoven parts:
- Class lectures and discussion
- Readings--Textbooks and other (See schedule.)
- Exercises and projects (some team-based)
- One in-class examination
- One take-home exam or term paper.
The course schedule shows what material will be discussed during each class meeting. Students should arrive in class having read all of the items listed for that day. Additionally, students should have reflected on these readings.
It is important to attend all classes because they will serve as the principal basis for exploring and explaining issues that arise in readings and activities. Should you find it impossible to attend a given class, please notify me before the class begins (email@example.com) In accordance with university policy, a student who is absent from a class for the observance of a religious holy day may complete the work issued within a reasonable time after the absence, if proper notice has been given. The deadline for such notification is fourteen days prior to the absence or the first class day for religious holy days that fall within the first two weeks of the semester. However, if the announced date for the in-class midterm coincides with a religious holiday that you observe, I would appreciate being notified at the beginning of the semester so that I can adjust the schedule. Missed in-class exams cannot be made up without prior consent from the instructor.
This course will use Blackboard as the primary means for distributing assignments and readings. You will automatically be given access to the class site when you enroll in the course. To log in, go to http://courses.utexas.edu. (Note that there is no www in the address.) The login is your UT EID and password. After you have logged in, the system will show you all of the courses to which you have been granted access. If you register late, please allow a day or two for the University to update your access, although generally it is done almost immediately.