LIBR 247-01
Vocabulary Design 
Spring 2009 Greensheet

Dr. Judy Weedman
Phone: (714) 278-2295
Fax: (714)278-5841
Office Location: 55 Pollak Library South, Fullerton
Office Hours: by appointment via email, chat, Elluminate, telephone, or in person

Course Links
APA Resources
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Textbooks and Readings | Course Requirements

Please self-enroll for this course on Angel between January 27 and January 29. You'll be required to use a password access code which I will send via the MYSJSU messaging system by January 27.   The course materials will be posted Thursday, January 29th; that will be considered the first class meeting.

Course Description

Principles and practices for the creation of subject vocabularies for the organization and retrieval of information-bearing objects.
This class is useful for individuals who need to design access systems where standard classification and subject heading systems such as Dewey, LCCS, LCSH, or Sears are not appropriate; special purpose collections, intranets, and e-commerce are three examples of settings where vocabulary design is a valuable professional skill.

Course Prerequisites: LIBR 202

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will understand and apply principles of thesaurus structure and design to create a NISO Z39.19-compliant thesaurus.
  • Students will understand how principles of single document indexing differ from those of design of indexing for multi-document indexes, and create an index for an individual document, either web- or print-based.
  • Students will be able to analyze the needs of a specific community and design a metadata structure and appropriate vocabularies/taxonomies for a collection useful to that community.
  • Students will explore and discuss the socio-technical dimensions of knowledge organization

LIBR 247 supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • design, query and evaluate information retrieval systems;
  • use the basic concepts and principles related to the creation, evaluation, selection, acquisition, preservation and organization of specific items or collections of information;
  • understand the system of standards and methods used to control and create information structures and apply basic principles involved in the organization and representation of knowledge.

In addition, this section addresses the following SLIS Core Competency:

  • contribute to the cultural, economic, educational and social well-being of our communities.

Course Requirements

Class Meetings  All course materials will be posted on Angel. The class will "meet" on Thursdays – this means that materials for each week’s class will be posted by 5 p.m. on Thursday. Please enroll in the course Angel site between January 27th and 29th. The access code will be sent to your my.sjsu account by the 27th.


  • Working with a design team of 2-3 students, create a thesaurus.
  • Working individually, create an A-Z index for a short web- or print-based document.
  • Working with a design team of 2-3 students, create a metadata schema and appropriate vocabularies or taxonomies for a test collection of non-text resources. OR, working with a design team of 2-3 students, create a taxonomy for a small website or similar content.
  • Identify vocabularies for a particular domain.
  • Interview someone who has designed a vocabulary, or who uses a vocabulary that was designed in-house (i.e., a non-standard, homegrown vocabulary)
1. Conceptual analysis and translation
2. Vocabulary discovery (required but ungraded; presented in class)
3. Journal Indexing
4. Site study (required but ungraded; presented in class)
5.Vocabulary Design 1
6.Vocabulary Design 2
7. Vocabulary Design 3
Total points possible:

Textbooks and Readings

IMPORTANT:  Do not buy the Lancaster textbook from, as there will be lengthy delays if you try to do so.  Instead, order it directly from the author:

Lancaster, F. W. (2003). Indexing and Abstracting in Theory and Practice, 3rd ed. University of Illinois, Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

If you’re in the United States:
Order directly from Dr. Lancaster
. Price is $57.50, plus $5.00 for shipping and handling. All orders must be prepaid by check or money order. Important: Order before July 31st to get the book in time for the first class. No orders will be filled during August.

F. W. Lancaster
1807 Cindy Lynn Street
Urbana, IL 61802

Phone: 217-384-7798

If you’re in the British Commonwealth or Europe:
Order from the British distributor.

Facet Publishing

If you’re not in the U.S., British Commonwealth, or Europe:
Contact Dr. Lancaster directly for information regarding shipping and handling.

F. W. Lancaster
Phone: 217-384-7798

Required Textbooks:

  • Lancaster, F. W. (2003). Indexing and Abstracting in Theory and Practice (3rd Rev Ed ed.). Facet Publishing. SEE SYLLABUS BEFORE PURCHASING. Buy direct from author. Available through Amazon: 1856044823. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Bowker, G. C., & Star, S. L. (2000). Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences. MIT Press. Available through Amazon: 0262522950. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation.  You must repeat the class the following semester. If -on the second attempt- you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

General Expectations, Rights and Responsibilities of the Student

As members of the academic community, students accept both the rights and responsibilities incumbent upon all members of the institution. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SJSU's policies and practices pertaining to the procedures to follow if and when questions or concerns about a class arises. See University Policy S90-5 at More detailed information on a variety of related topics is available in the SJSU catalog at In general, it is recommended that students begin by seeking clarification or discussing concerns with their instructor. If such conversation is not possible, or if it does not serve to address the issue, it is recommended that the student contact the Department Chair as a next step.

Dropping and Adding

Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drop, grade forgiveness, etc. Refer to the current semester's Catalog Policies section at Add/drop deadlines can be found on the current academic year calendars document on the Academic Calendars webpage at The Late Drop Policy is available at Students should be aware of the current deadlines and penalties for dropping classes.

Information about the latest changes and news is available at the Advising Hub at

Consent for Recording of Class and Public Sharing of Instructor Material

University Policy S12-7,, requires students to obtain instructor's permission to record the course and the following items to be included in the syllabus:

  • "Common courtesy and professional behavior dictate that you notify someone when you are recording him/her. You must obtain the instructor's permission to make audio or video recordings in this class. Such permission allows the recordings to be used for your private, study purposes only. The recordings are the intellectual property of the instructor; you have not been given any rights to reproduce or distribute the material."
    • It is suggested that the syllabus include the instructor's process for granting permission, whether in writing or orally and whether for the whole semester or on a class by class basis.
    • In classes where active participation of students or guests may be on the recording, permission of those students or guests should be obtained as well.
  • "Course material developed by the instructor is the intellectual property of the instructor and cannot be shared publicly without his/her approval. You may not publicly share or upload instructor generated material for this course such as exam questions, lecture notes, or homework solutions without instructor consent."

Academic integrity

Your commitment, as a student, to learning is evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University. The University Academic Integrity Policy F15-7 at requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Student Conduct and Ethical Development website is available at

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 at requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC) at to establish a record of their disability.

icon showing link leads to the PDF file viewer known as Acrobat Reader Download Adobe Acrobat Reader to access PDF files.

More accessibility resources.