Buckland, M. (1999) Vocabulary as a central concept in library and information science. In Arpanac, T. et al. (Eds.), Digital libraries: interdisciplinary concepts, challenges, and opportunities. Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science [CoLIS3] 23-26 May 1999, Dubrovnik, Croatia, (p 3-12. Zagreb: Lokve. Available at: http://www.sims.berkeley.edu/~buckland/colisvoc.htm
Although qualified uses of the term “vocabulary” like “natural language vocabulary” and “controlled vocabulary” occur frequently within the fields of Library and Information Science, the unqualified use of the term is integral if under-represented. Three claims acknowledge the importance of vocabulary: the claim that vocabulary is central to the cost-effectiveness of digital libraries, the claim that vocabulary is vital in terms of issues of identity within information science, and the claim that vocabulary is integral as a range of values in a collection and fundamental to filtering and retrieval systems. Vocabulary must be addressed whenever issues of search and retrieval arise. Often the vocabulary of the indexer and that of the searcher are not analogous. In terms of digital technology, vocabulary can be manipulated as character strings, but the social aspect of vocabulary is not a consideration in this process. In order to address issues of vocabulary in library science, we must agree on a definition of the term that applies satisfactorily with the domain. In Library and Information Science, vocabulary has come to denote an adaptation of natural language for the purpose of formulating indexing terms. If we are to use the term with its broader connotation, however, we can accept “vocabulary” as the range for any kind of metadata. When used in this fashion, vocabulary is a foundational component in the structure and use of digital libraries.
~ R. F.