We have an innate need for organization. We need to organize our lives. We need to get out stuff together. We need to organize our rooms, and our kitchens.
School tries to arm us with such a capacity from an early age too. Write heading in a specific color. Write paragraphs in a different one. Leave a certain margin. Allocate a notebook for each subject, and never use a notebook for all of them (I have to admit that I used to do this).
On an individual level, we are different, and just as some of us are obsessed with order and long for strict organization, others despise such dependence on systems and see them as mere constructs that further complicate matters rather than simply them.
The reality is that by “just living,” we—our activities—are generating data on a minute-to-minute basis. That data needs to be processed, organized, and stored. We then can use that our archives/historical records to make inferences, or to help researchers better understand and solve the challenges of their fields by making the access to the information resources they need most easy and time-efficient.
Here comes the field of organizing recorded information. The International According to the Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)1, end-users of the information benefit from the organization process by being able to accomplish the following five tasks more efficiently:
- Find: look for entities that match tight and specific criteria
- Identify: verify that the entities sought is the same as the one found
- Select: ensuring of retaining only resources that match the user’s need
- Obtain: make the resource sought accessible
- Explore: make possible the discovery of new resources and entities
We should differentiate between the terms “recorded information” and “information resource.”
Information resources often have some common attributes, such as title, creator, date, ISBN, etc..
Archivists and collection specialists use these attributes to help them organize these resources collectively, and according to a specific criteria.
These attributes are called metadata, which is just a fancy name for “data that provides information about other data.” 4
There are generally four steps we should follow if we want to organize recorded information:
- Identify every information resource available at our disposal
- Closely examine the contents of each resource
- Collectively organize these resources into separate collections
- Work out a list of every information resource prepared according to some standard guideline for citation