University of Pittsburgh. School of Information Sciences

Department of Library and Information Science

 LIS2001: Organizing Information

Course description

Required textbook



Assignment summary

General information


Supplementary Glossary

Fall 2003

Arlene G. Taylor
John M. Sluk

 Course Description:

The goal of this course is to enable students to understand the theory, principles, standards, and tools behind the organization of information, with special emphasis on understanding the function of catalogs, indexes, bibliographic networks, and other such organizing entities. The course deals with the theory and practice of organizing information in all types of environments, and includes introductions to metadata descriptions, name and title access, subject analysis, controlled vocabularies, and classification systems.


Textbook:  The Organization of Information

Taylor, Arlene G. The Organization of Information. 2nd ed. Westport, Conn.: Libraries, Unlimited, 2004.

| Course description | Objectives | Outline | Assignment Summary |
| General Information | Bibliography | Suppl. Glossary | Top |



Students will understand:
  • the role of organization in human endeavors;
  • basic principles of organization that have developed over the last several centuries;
  • organizational concepts that affect how information must be retrieved;
  • various approaches to organizing in all types of environments;
  • administrative issues affecting organization of information;
  • the role of technical standards in organizing information packages.

Students will be able to:

  • effectively use and interpret existing systems for organization of information;
  • use a number of standard organizing tools;
  • define and use correctly terminology commonly associated with the organization of information;
  • suggest appropriate approaches to organizing information in given situations.
| Course description | Objectives | Outline | Assignment Summary |
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Course Outline:

[Click the underlined word, module number, or unit number to see a separate Web page for each of the following. See Quick Schedule in Blackboard for dates of coverage.]
  • Introduction [See Introduction in Blackboard.]
  • Module 1: Current systems for organization of information
  • Module 2: Historical development of the organization of information
    • Unit 5: Historical perspectives
  • Module 3: The information organization process
    • Unit 6: Surrogate/Metadata records: Description
    • Unit 7: Surrogate/Metadata records: Access; Authority control
    • Unit 8: Subject access: Analysis
    • Unit 9: Subject access: Verbal subject approaches
    • Unit 10: Subject access: Classification
  • Module 4: Organization and administration

| Course description | Objectives | Outline | Assignment Summary |
| General Information | Bibliography | Suppl. Glossary | Top |


Summary of Assignments:

(To be done individually unless otherwise indicated)
  • At least one contribution per unit to discussion board
  • "Understanding the Use of the Catalog" assignment (pairs)
  • "Understanding OCLC Searching" assignment (pairs)
  • "Understanding History" assignment
  • "Understanding Surrogate Record Description" assignment
  • "Understanding Surrogate Record Access Points" assignment
  • "Understanding Subject Analysis and Vocabulary Theory" assignment (pairs)
  • "Understanding Controlled Vocabulary" assignment (groups of 2 or 3)
  • "Understanding Classification and Arrangement" assignment
  • Group reports
  • Portfolio of contributions to class discussion (including self-assessment)
| Course description | Objectives | Outline | Assignment Summary |
| General Information | Bibliography | Suppl. Glossary | Top |

  Important Course Information:

Arlene G. Taylor
Office: 642 IS Bldg.
Office tel.: 412-624-9452
E-mail: ataylor@mail.sis.pitt.edu

John M. Sluk
Office tel.: 440-775-5113
E-mail: john.m.sluk@oberlin.edu

Course Plan:

The course consists of units of readings and activities with PowerPoint presentations on the class electronic communication system, discussion board discussions, exercises, assignments, and group reports. FastTrack students meet on campus during one weekend in October. Prof. Taylor will meet with on-campus students three Monday evenings during the term.


Students are expected to read the assigned textbook chapter and to read the PowerPoint presentations for each unit before discussion of a particular unit. Students are also expected to complete other readings, participate in discussions, and to complete assignments. Students are responsible for using the resources of the department and the university to learn how to use the University catalog and other public retrieval systems, the University libraries, electronic mail, and Blackboard.


Assignments are due in the Instructors' drop box by midnight on the date due. Students are encouraged to ask for assistance with assignments when needed. The assignments that are assigned to groups or pairs are to be done with the assigned person(s), with only one version of the response being submitted for each group or pair. On individual assignments you may discuss your work with each other, but the ultimate work you turn in should be the result of your having done the work yourself, not having copied "answers" from other students.


Plagiarism will not be tolerated. For an explanation of what constitutes plagiarism, see "Avoiding Plagiarism," by David J. Birnbaum and Helena Goscilo: http://clover.slavic.pitt.edu/~tales/02-1/plagiarism.html

The result of plagiarism on any assignment will be an "F" for at least that assignment. If the plagiarism is found to be a repeat offense, the grade for the course will be an "F."

Class Electronic System:

Class discussion forums have been set up for the purpose of stimulating discussion and observation on topics related to the content of the course. Please do not put gripes or flames on the discussion board. Participants should always be respectful of others' ideas, but they should also feel free to share different perspectives or opinions.

Each member of the class is expected to make contributions as required to fulfill the portfolio assignment. You are given suggested topics for each unit. Other comments may be made on an issue that has come up in the readings or in PowerPoint presentations, an intellectual concern emerging from past experiences, etc. Students are encouraged to post as often as they have something to contribute or have questions.

One forum on the main discussion board is for questions specifically addressed to the Instructors. (These do not count as your substantive post for a unit!)


Evaluation of your work is as follows:

14% Portfolio (including in-class participation and class electronic participation)
14% Group report
72% Assignments (8 "understanding" assignments)

Completion of all work (including the required number of posts to the electronic discussion board) is expected regardless of its proportion of the grade. No student will receive an "A" unless all work has been completed (regardless of point average).

Late Policy:

All assignments must be turned in on time. Late assignments are strongly discouraged. If late work appears to be unavoidable, you should communicate with your instructor about the circumstances. When a late assignment is accepted, it is understood that its grade usually will be lowered.


Assigned groups will be constituted for group reports. These groups will be given group space in Blackboard.

A Note on Special Needs:

Students with disabilities who require special accommodations should notify the instructor and the University's Office of Disability Resources & Services (DRS) - 216 William Pitt Union,
(412)648-7890/ (412)383-7355 (TTY) - as early as possible in the term. Students may be asked to provide documentation of their disabilities so that DRS may determine the appropriateness of the request.DRS will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.

Language Courtesy:

Gender-inclusive language is required in all course work. The use of respectful language in any situation is not a matter of "political correctness" but one of simple courtesy.

| Course description | Objectives | Outline | Assignment Summary |
| General Information | Bibliography | Suppl. Glossary | Top |

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