Understanding the Implications of Knowledge Organization Systems with particular consideration of indigenous Knowledge


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A presentation for LIS 610 (Fall 2013) at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.

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  • ‘Knowledge organization systems’ is an umbrella term referring to schemes for organizing information for the purpose of knowledge management and retrieval. “A KOS serves as a bridge between the user’s information need and the material in the collection,” according to Gale Hodge, in a 2000 report for The Digital Library Federation. Controlled vocabularies are of utmost importance to the stability and reliability of these systems to perform uniform access for users. For libraries and other memory institutions, knowledge organization systems usually take the form of categories, such as a subject list, or classification schemes (e.g. the Dewey Decimal System, the Library of Congress Classification Schedules, and the Universal Decimal Classification).
  • The act of assigning names to materials, and essentially to knowledge, that is central to knowledge organization systems should not be underestimated or taken for granted.
  • Access largely dependent on users (and librarians’) abilities to map information needs with topics (LCSH) and classifications
  • Both systems utilize a controlled vocabulary which provides stability and reliability in the provision of standard, uniform accessIn choosing to implement these systems, access becomes dependent on mapping user info needs and vocabularies to the CV.… Librarians duty to bridge the gap between user and system vocabularies
  • Berman advocated common sense and dignity in subject cataloging – Sandy BermanA library catalog is reflective of the values of the society that creates it. Therefore subject headings should be changed and adaped along with society. The catalog cannot remain static. – Olson
  • Paradigm: a set of ideas that are used for understanding or explaining something, especially in a particular subject.http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/paradigm
  • Shows how there’s numerous indigenous groups, and many many languages and cultures/perspectives… and this is just in California alone+ Important to consider these ways of knowing in cataloging (that is, naming in info systems)
  • The act of assigning names to materials, and essentially to knowledge, that is central to knowledge organization systems should not be underestimated or taken for granted. By incorporating traditional names and perspectives in the naming and classification of Hawaiian materials via alternative knowledge organization systems, cultural institutions will better document and represent the materials they seek to preserve and disseminate.
  • Understanding the Implications of Knowledge Organization Systems with particular consideration of indigenous Knowledge

    2. 2. KOS FRAMEWORK  „Knowledge Organization Systems‟ (KOS) Schemes for organizing information for knowledge management and retrieval.  KOS Examples: Categories – Library of Congress Subject Headings  Classifications – Dewey Decimal System, Library of Congress Classification Schedules, Universal Decimal Classification  1
    3. 3. PREMISE Knowledge organization systems 1) Define relationships, 2) Control the interpretation of knowledge, and 3) Determine level(s) of access 2
    4. 4. CLASSIFICATION SCHEMES Dewey Decimal System  Public libraries   Hawai„i State Public Library System (HSPLS) Most prominent Library of Congress Classification Schedules  Academic libraries   University of Hawai„i System Widely used in Englishspeaking world 3
    5. 5. EFFECTS OF CURRENT KOS SYSTEMS  Controlled vocabularies  stability & reliability   Provides standard, uniform access Access largely dependent on users‟ abilities to map information needs with topics & classifications … Librarians‟ duty to help bridge the gap in user and system vocabularies 4
    6. 6. PROBLEMATIZING CURRENT SYSTEMS  Eurocentric  “The „majority reader‟ and the norm, as far as LC is concerned, is white, Christian (often specifically Protestant), male, and straight” (Marshall 1972 quoted in Olson 2002, p. 7) Hierarchical  Linear  Biased (e.g. subject headings)   KOSs are culturally-specific, meaning they are inherently biased and disenfranchising for indigenous peoples and marginal groups 5
    7. 7. SIGNIFICANCE FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES “For those, the Other, whose knowledge processes follow different paradigms, the traditionally structured Western library becomes almost completely inaccessible. The division of knowledge into disciplines in Western science is at complete odds with the Indigenous view of knowledge as holistic and interrelated, and it is this disciplinary division which forms the basis of library classification systems.” (Johnston 2006, p. 2) 6
    8. 8. DOCUMENTED HISTORY ON TOPIC  Issue of cultural bias in subject access is not new   Documented since the 1930‟s (Doyle 2006, p. 4) Issues raised include: Marginalization  Omission  Lack of specificity  7
    9. 9. ETHICAL QUESTIONS Equity?  Effective for access?  ALA Code of Ethics, Article I: We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests. - http://www.ala.org/advocacy/proethics/codeofethics/codeethics  … one-size fits all approach? 8
    10. 10. “The international standardization of knowledge organization and subject representation systems enables unprecedented sharing of knowledge and also holds unprecedented power to erase local and regional knowledge domains. At risk are the voices that represent diversity of human experience, including the thousands of unique Indigenous cultures, languages, stories and ways of expressing them.” (Smith 2005 in Doyle 2006, p. 438-439) INSTITUTING A UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE IS NOT ONLY IMPOSSIBLE, BUT INAPPROPRIATE 9
    11. 11. LARGER THEME - THE POWER TO NAME  “All naming is of necessity biased and the process of naming is one of encoding that bias, of making a selection of what to emphasize and what to overlook on the basis of a strict use of already patterned materials.” (Dale Spender quoted in Olson 2002, p. 4)  Cultural paradigms – ideologies and bias Maoist classification replaced earlier schemes based on the Seven Epitomes of Confucian doctrine Post-Soviet view of knowledge adopted in revisions to the Library Bibliographical Classification (LBC) 10 Images: Flag of Russia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_Russia.svg Flag of the People‟s Republic of China: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China.svg
    12. 12. MAP OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES  Map of California http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Californi a_tribes_%26_languages_at_contact.p ng 11
    14. 14. ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES 1. Supplemental subject headings  2. Entirely new subject headings  3. National Indian Law Library Thesaurus Project NgāŪpokoTukutukuMāori Subject Headings New classification schemes  Brian Deer Classification Scheme 13
    15. 15. KEEP IN MIND Knowledge organization systems 1) Define relationships, 2) Control the interpretation of knowledge, and 3) Determine level(s) of access Indigenous Knowledge Organization Systems must be considered for the purpose of improving access Language  Collaboration with indigenous peoples  14
    16. 16. SUMMARY OF ISSUE Western knowledge organization systems are Dominant systems at current  At odds with indigenous knowledge  Inadequate for providing access to indigenous users (and users from marginal groups)  Becoming the international standard  … Related inquiry (for future research): How can we capitalize on technology‟s affordances to remedy cultural bias in knowledge organization systems? 15
    17. 17. As information professionals, we should and strive to provide “appropriate and usefully organized resources” & “equitable access.” 16 Image: http://mandrekarkabir.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/mind-the-gap/
    18. 18. MAHALO! Image: http://www.waimeavalley.org/ahupuaa.htm
    19. 19. REFERENCES Doyle, Ann M. “Naming and Reclaiming Indigenous Knowledges in Public Institutions: Intersections of Landscapes and Experience.” Presentation at the Knowledge Organization for a Global Learning Society: Proceedings of the 9th International Conference for Knowledge Organization. International Society for Knowledge Organization 9 th International Conference. (Vienna, Austria. Jul, 2006). Advances in Knowledge Organization Vol 10. Ergon. Würzburg: 435-442. (revised version). http://arizona.openrepository.com/arizona/bitstream/10150/105581/1/Naming_and_Reclaiming_Doyle06.pdf Hodge, Gail. “Systems of Knowledge Organization for Digital Libraries: Beyond Traditional Authority Files.” Washington, DC: The Digital Library Federation, 2000. http://www.kevenlw.name/downloads/working/%E5%85%83%E6%95%B0%E6%8D%AE%E4%B8%8E%E4%BF %A1%E6%81%AF%E8%B5%84%E6%BA%90%E7%BB%84%E7%BB%87/reference/pub91.pdf Johnston, E Lorraine. “The Role of Libraries and Archives in the Preservation and Revitalisation of Indigenous Knowledge: The case of Revitalization of te reo Māori.” Presentation at the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa Conference, Wellington, NZ, October 1, 2006. Lee, Deborah. “Indigenous Knowledge Organization: A Study of Concepts, Terminology, Structure and (Mostly) Indigenous Voices.” Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 6:1 (2011). http://journal.lib.uoguelph.ca/index.php/perj/article/viewArticle/1427/2089 Olson, Hope A. The Power to Name: Locating the Limits of Subject Representation in Libraries. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002. 18