LIBR 247-01
LIBR 247-10
Vocabulary Design 
Spring 2013 Greensheet

Dr. Judy Weedman
Phone: (657) 278-2295
Office Location: 276 Pollak Library South, Fullerton
Office Hours: by appointment via email, Collaborate, telephone, or in person

Course Links
Thesaurus for Assignment 1

APA Resources
iSchool eBookstore
Greensheet Links

You will automatically be enrolled into the D2L course site on Wednesday, January 23rd.  This is the first day that our class will "meet" -- that is, the day that materials for the first week will be posted.  You should log into the site sometime after 6 p.m. to take your initial look at what's there and what the first week's readings and assignments are.

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 Requirements

Class Meetings  All course materials will be posted on D2L. The class will "meet" on Thursdays – this means that materials for each week’s class will be posted by 6 p.m. on Wednesday.


  1. Analyze the concepts from a professional article that should be represented in its indexing
  2. Given a set of articles, index them using a thesaurus. 
  3. Identify vocabularies appropriate for a particular domain
  4. Working with a design team of 2-4 students, create a thesaurus.
  5. Working individually, create an A-Z index for a web- or print-based document.
  6. Working with a design team of 2-4 students, create a metadata schema and appropriate vocabularies for a test collection of non-text resources. OR, working with a design team of 2-4 students, create a taxonomy for a small website or similar content.
  7. 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 SLO #1 Comp G, E 50
2. Journal Indexing SLO #1, #3 Comp G, E 150
3. Vocabulary discovery (required but ungraded; presented in class) SLO #4 Comp G, E  
4. Vocabulary Design 1 (thesaurus) SLO #4, #5, #6 Comp G, E 300
5. Vocabulary Design 2 (A-Z index) SLO #1, #3, #6
Comp G, E
6. Vocabulary Design 3 (metadata or taxonomy) SLO #4, #5, #6 Comp E 300
7. Site study (required but ungraded; presented in class) SLO #6 Comp E  
Total points possible:     1,000

Textbooks and Readings

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

IMPORTANT: Do not buy the Lancaster textbook from, as there will be lengthy delays. Instead, order it directly from the author

Instructions for ordering the Lancaster text:

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.

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

  • Indexes:  A chapter from the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition.  (2010). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

IMPORTANT:  This small book will not be available until September or October.  It's okay to wait and order it at that time; we won't use it till the middle of the semester.  Or, you can pre-order from the SLIS Amazon bookstore or directly from the publisher.

  • National Information Standards Organization (2005).  ANSI/NISO 39.19 -- Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Controlled Vocabularies.  Baltimore, MD:  NISO Press.  

 Download from the NISO website:


Recomended but not required:  Hedden, Heather (2010).  The Accidental Taxonomist.   Medford, NJ:  Information Today.

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

LIBR 202

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Apply principles of indexing, abstracting, and subject analysis.
  2. Apply the principles of thesaurus structure and use to create a NISO Z39.19-compliant thesaurus.
  3. Differentiate between the design of a single document index and the design of multi-document indexes.
  4. Analyze the information needs of a specific community and design a metadata structure and appropriate vocabularies/taxonomies for a collection useful to that community.
  5. Identify thesaurus applications in new indexing environments such as subject gateways, portals, and digital libraries.
  6. Identify and evaluate the socio-technical dimensions of knowledge organization.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

LIBR 247 supports the following core competencies:

  1. E Design, query and evaluate information retrieval systems.
  2. G Demonstrate understanding of basic principles and standards involved in organizing information, including classification, cataloging, metadata, or other systems.


Required Textbooks:

  • Lancaster, F. W. (2003). Indexing and Abstracting in Theory and Practice (3rd Rev Ed ed.). London: Facet Publishing. SEE SYLLABUS BEFORE PURCHASING. Buy direct from author. Available through Amazon: 1856044823. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • University of Chicago Press (2010). Indexes: A Chapter from The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Available through Amazon: 0226836142. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Hedden, Heather (2010). Accidental taxonomist. Medford, NJ: Information Today. Available through Amazon: 1573873977arrow 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.

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