General Purpose of a KOS & the Relevance to Understanding Change within a KOS

The purpose of a knowledge organisation system (KOS) is to facilitate the discovery and access to recorded knowledge often spanning vast historical, geographical and cultural areas. The dynamic and continuously evolving nature of human knowledge and the terminology by which it is communicated pose challenges to KOSs which must reflect these changes apace. This aspect of KOS functionality requires continuous KOS updates, augmentation, and adjustments to the KOS structure as well as its data content. A KOS remains integral to the information discovery process of current users if it can adapt and transform itself to their needs. A KOS remains relevant when it can manage change. To better understand our universe of knowledge and our interaction with it, we need to understand how our existing KOSs handle change.

Working Group Objective

The WG’s initial focus is to undertake a comprehensive comparative survey of various KOSs from which we can discover how changes are dealt with, both to KOS structures and to their data contents, and to come to terms with these ongoing modifications. The Group’s ultimate goal is twofold, in that we hope:

  •  to contribute to a better understanding of KOSs and their purpose as evolving instruments that must balance static, scientific information on one hand with dynamic, multicultural change to knowledge on the other; and,
  •  to propose best practices for recording and presenting changes in KOSs that may serve to enhance future KOS conceptual and data modelling, representation, use, and exchange.

Work Group Methodology

Taking into account existing standards available for thesaural analysis, such as ISO 25964-1 – “Information and documentation – Thesauri and interoperability with other vocabularies, Part 1: Thesauri for information retrieval”, we look at and analyse different knowledge organisation systems to discover how different types of changes are edited, implemented, and documented within each KOS. We focus on the following aspects:

  • descriptions of what types of changes have occurred
  • reasons for the changes
  • editorial processes that manage how changes are dealt with
  • documentation that records how/why the changes have occurred
  • supporting the above findings with examples

Planned outputs and activities (2021 – 2023)

  • Survey of different KOSs (in progress)
  • Compilation of a bibliography (in progress)
  • Publication of a best practices or white paper on how KOSs should ideally document change (in progress)

Who are we?

Julia Bullard, University of British Columbia (Canada)
Drahomira Cupar, University of Zadar (Croatia)
Andreas Oskar Kempf, ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (Germany)
Daniel Martinez Avila, University of León (Spain)
Jean Maury, Bibliothèque nationale de France (France)
Julijana Nadj-Guttandin (co-convener), German National Library (Germany)
Darija Rozman, National and University Library in Ljubljana (Slovenia)
Athena Salaba, Kent State University (USA)
Aida Slavic, UDC Consortium (Netherlands)
Anna Slawek (co-convener), University of Toronto (Canada)
Ana Vukadin, UDC Consortium (Netherlands)

How do we work?

KOS-D‘s work takes place online. We manage our projects via IFLA’s platform Basecamp, as well as collaborating on written documentation via Google Drive. We try to schedule monthly meetings.

If you are interested in KOS-D, you can attend one of our online meetings as an observer. Please email the Working Group Chair, Julijana Nadj-Guttandin, at [email protected] or the SAA Chair, Caroline Saccucci, at [email protected] if you wish to attend.