Empowering Digital Libraries Users through Combining Taxonomies with Folksonomies Page: 2
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from the common vocabulary and matching requests with
Considering the growing interdiciplinarity and constant
changes and development of information and knowledge
management; digital resources demand a more specialized
treatment and characterization that can help to better
capture the semantics and relations of the underlying
Different metadata elements describe different
characteristics or aspects of an object or digital resource.
However, users are more interested in the contents and the
subjects, rather than in what the objects are. The most
useful metadata about a digital object is the subjects (or
keywords), since they explicitly describe what it is about.
To describe digital resources accurately, metadata creators
and/or catalogers try to follow (as closely as possible) the
thinking of the creator/author, and also anticipate what and
how the users might want to discover and retrieve them.
Otherwise, the descriptions or subject headings will be
ineffective. Wichowski (2009) noted that in the rapidly
growing information environment, unidentified and
unorganized content, however useful it may be, is at risk of
being rendered unfindable, and thus obsolete.
A number of researchers, Bates (1998), Peterson (2006) and
Spiteri (2007); among others, analyzed content indexing
(especially subject indexing) and described the general
behavior of users' information seeking and their queries
Many agreed that the two major reasons why users
experience problems with subject access are the quality and
application of subject index on the one hand, and the
complexity of knowledge as well as information literacy
skills required for successful subject access on the other. To
maintain the consistency of search results and high recall of
available resources, it is critical to ensure the quality of the
keywords and taxonomies used to index heterogeneous
digital resources within digital libraries.
Libraries have been developing various systems for creating
and managing controlled vocabularies for use in digital
library initiatives. Selecting a term from a controlled
vocabulary ensures indexing consistency and enhances
retrieval precision across all digital resources. In this
regard, controlled terms provide a broad navigational tool
for browsing through digital content and digital library
collections. Users can drill down through subordinate
subject terms to find other content within that subject
category. Such an approach promotes consistency and
enhances a digital library user's ability to find and use
available digital resources.
Considering the complexities and multifaceted issues
involved in determining the level of indexing term quality,
traditional approaches may not adequately address the
diverse users' requirements and needs. It is critical for
digital libraries to assess the practice that shapes the
generation of subject terms which determines the
effectiveness of subject and keyword access.
This raises the question of whether user-supplied tags
complement traditional indexing by professionals in ways
which significantly improve information retrieval.
Folksonomy is a user-generated system that allows users to
tag their favorite digital resources using their natural-
language words. Trant (2009) summarized both the
negatives and positives of folksonomy. Most critics point to
the fact that it is an uncontrolled vocabulary and leads to
less effective information retrieval. On the other hand,
proponents point to the fact that it is user-friendly and
enables personalized information retrieval by users. As
folksonomies are in a continual state of flux, they are better
able to accommodate current terminology and concepts
than traditional indexing tools and systems such as the
Dewey Decimal Classification and the Library of Congress
As some commentators noted, (e.g., Peterson, 2006; Spiteri,
2007; and TechSmith, 2008; among others) both
approaches share a basic problem: the potential users of
information are disconnected from the process. They
believe combining both traditional indexing systems with
folksonomies is the solution for delivering a richer user
experience of digital libraries as well as on the Web while
leveraging the benefits of composite applications, mash
ups, and Service-Oriented Architectures.
While the capacity to create digital content is great and the
appetite for it seemingly insatiable, much work remains to
be done in order to make the infrastructure robust. In the
increasingly self-structured digital environment, it is clear
that traditional information indexing will be of limited use
to user experience.
In view of the growing interdiciplinarity and constant
changes in users' requirements, access to digital resources
relies on a seamless discovery process that offers all
possible options to users. Accordingly, the roles of
information environments such as cultural heritage
institutions evolved from that of local resource repositories
to global gateways for access.
Although different metadata schemas are often mutually
complementary, good subject or keyword terms help users
find what they need, even when they are not aware of their
needs. In their search for better discoverability for existing
digital resources; cultural heritage institutions attempt to
enrich the traditional catalog and metadata with additional
user-supplied terms and descriptions. Both topical and
natural approaches to the subject matter in a digital
collection provide high-level descriptions and
representations. Such an aggregation of digital items will
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Alemneh, Daniel Gelaw & Rorissa, Abebe. Empowering Digital Libraries Users through Combining Taxonomies with Folksonomies, paper, October 2012; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc122173/m1/2/: accessed June 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .