Controlled Vocabulary


Books to help you develop your own Controlled Vocabulary, Thesaurus, or Taxonomy

It's smart to put some effort into the organizing of your meta data, as this will increase the effectiveness of your filing system. Just as physics is the underlying base of engineering, there is an intellectual foundation that underlays the design of systems for organizing information. Here are some books that can help you gain that background (note, the links below are in association with Any proceeds are used to maintain and expand this website, so your use of these links is appreciated).

The Accidental Taxonomist, Second Edition
by Heather Hedden

last revised 2016
A very useful book to those who are just starting to develop their own taxonomy or controlled vocabulary. "The Accidental Taxonomist is the most comprehensive guide available to the art and science of building information taxonomies. Heather Hedden a leading taxonomy consultant and instructor walks readers through the process, displaying her trademark ability to present highly technical information in straightforward, comprehensible English." The many links mentioned in the book can also be accessed from the Accidental Taxonomist website.

Organizing Your Photographs
by Ernest Robl

last revised 1986, Out of Print--Limited Availability
Even though this was written primarily when "analog" systems were the norm (think physical slides and card catalogs), much of the information translates just fine to the computer database age. Ernest Robl, a photographer (and former librarian) does touch upon the uses and construction of databases, though things have changed a lot since 1986. However, the overall organization concepts have not really changed much during that same period. I found this book quite useful when researching cataloging and descriptive rules and in creating a "hierarchy" to use in categorizing my images. Well worth picking up if you can find a copy.

Classification of Pictures and Slides
by Stanford J Green

Last revised 1981, Out of Print--Limited Availability
This was Mr. Greens attempt to create a numerical "dewey-decimal-type" system for describing and filing slides. Useful as a reference if you are seriously considering creating your own thesaurus or hierarchy/controlled vocabulary.

The picture file : a manual and a curriculum-related subject heading list
by Donna Hill

last revision 1978, Out of Print--Limited Availability

If a picture's worth a thousand words-- : problems in the indexing of the visual image and some solutions
by Nicholas Thompson

last revision 1986, considered "hard-to-find"

Introduction to Metadata: Pathways to Digital Information (Getty Information Institute)
by Murta Baca, Anne Gilliland Swetland, Getty Information Institute

last revision 2000
There is also an online version of this book now available from the Getty MuseumWebsite.

Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder (Hardcover), 2007
by David Weinberger

Times Books: May 2007

Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder (Paperback), 2008
by David Weinberger

Holt Paperbacks: April 2008
One of the authors of The Clue Train Manifesto, takes on the notion that we have to get rid of the idea that there's a best way of organizing the world. Weinberger notes that "our homespun ways of maintaining order are going to break—they're already breaking—in the digital world." What happens when we liberate the metadata from the physical manifestation of that information? In Weinbergers mind this is the "3rd Order of Organization" where we are no longer bound by physical constraints.

Metadata and Its Impact on Libraries (Library and Information Science Text Series) (Hardcover)
by Sheila S. Intner (Author), Susan i Lazinger (Author), Jean Weihs (Author)

Libraries Unlimited, 1st Edition: December, 2005

Subject Access to Visual Resources Collections
by Karen Markey

last revision 1986, considered "hard-to-find"

Random House Webster's Word Menu (Random House Newer Words Faster)
Stephen Glazier
Random House Reference; Revised edition (July 21, 1998)

Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences (Inside Technology)- hardcover, 1999
Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences (Inside Technology)- paperback, 2000

by Geoffrey C. Bowker, Susan Leigh Star

Classification systems and their role in shaping philosophy and social interactions are explored in this unique analysis of human infrastructures.

The Intellectual Foundation of Information Organization (Digital Libraries and Electronic Publishing)
by Elaine Svenonius

hardcover, 1st edition April 18, 2000
Provides sound guidance to future developers of search engines and retrieval systems. Synthesizes a diverse literature into coherent and understandable concepts.

Learn Library of Congress Classification
by Helena Dittmann, Jane Hardy

paperback, December 22, 1999
If you need a working knowledge of cataloging basics then this book should help as it covers the skills necessary for a classifier using the Library of Congress Classification scheme (LCC), whether at a professional or a paraprofessional level.

Thesaurus for Graphic Materials
by Elisabeth Betz Parker, Helena Zinkham

Last revision January 1995, currently out-of-stock

Content Management for Dynamic Web Delivery
by JoAnn T. Hackos

paperback, Wiley; February 28, 2002

Faceted classification: a guide to construction and use of special schemes
by B. C. Vickery

Aslib; [1st ed.] reprinted with additional material edition (1968), currently out-of-stock
A classic for Library Scientists

Prolegomena to Library Classification, Vol. 1
by S.R. Ranganathan

Stosius Inc/Advent Books Division; 1 edition (February 1, 1994)
A classic from the library scientist who first pushed the concept of faceted classification.

Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences
by Geoffrey C. Bowker, Susan Leigh Star

The MIT Press (August 28, 2000)
Communications professors Bowker and Star analyze the International Classification of Diseases, the Nursing Interventions Classification, the South African race classification under apartheid, and other working systems in this book to illustrate their points about the inevitable social, political, and economic impacts of classification on people, mainly because we take them for granted, assume they represent the "natural" way of the world, and therefore that we must conform to them.

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
by James Gleick

Hardcover, Pantheon (March 1, 2011)
This is James Gleick's take on the information age, "...the blood, the fuel, the vital principle of our world." Gleick tells the story of information technologies that changed the very nature of human consciousness, starting with the invention of scripts and alphabets to the long-misunderstood talking drums of Africa, Key figures, like Charles Babbage, the idiosyncratic inventor of the first great mechanical computer; Ada Byron, the brilliant and doomed daughter of the poet, who became the first true programmer; pivotal figures like Samuel Morse and Alan Turing; and Claude Shannon, the creator of information theory itself are covered in the first part of the book. The remainder is devoted to where the information age is heading now.

Standards and Guidelines for Terminology Development:

Thesaurus Construction: a Practical Manual
by J. Aitchison, and A. Gilchrist

Hardcover, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers; 4th edition (April 1, 2002)

Thesaurus Construction: a Practical Manual
by J. Aitchison, and A. Gilchrist

paperback, Aslib, The Association for Information Management; (November 1997) out-of-stock, limited availability

Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Controlled Vocabularies: ANSI/NISO Z39.19 -2005
by National Information Standards Organization (NISO)

The National Information Standards Organization; (2005) free download
This document gives you the proper guidelines and conventions for the contents, display, construction, testing, maintenance, and management of monolingual controlled vocabularies. The focus is on creating controlled vocabularies that are used for the representation of content objects in knowledge organization systems including lists, synonym rings, taxonomies, and thesauri.

Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules. Prepared under the direction of the Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR
by The American Library Association, The Canadian Library Association, The Chartered Institute of Library and I

paperback, Amer Library Assn; Loose Leaf edition (August 31, 2004)

Media and Digital Asset Management and Workflow:

The DAM Book : Digital Asset Management for Photographers
by Peter Krogh

paperback, O'Reilly Media, Inc., 2nd edition (May 4, 2009)

The DAM Book Guide to Multi-Catalog Workflow for Lightroom 5
by Peter Krogh

DVD-ROM, DAM Useful Publishing., 1st edition (2013)

Photoshop CS3 Workflow: The Digital Photographer's Guide (Tim Grey Guides)
by Tim Grey

paperback, Sybex; May 2007

Organizing and Preserving Your Digital Stuff: Easy Steps for Saving Files like the Library of Congress
by Mike Ashenfelder

Kindle, Armin Lear Press; May 2021

Books for Word Lovers:

Word Spy : The Word Lover's Guide to Modern Culture
by Paul McFedries

paperback, 1st edition, February 2004
This a a book devoted to "lexpionage", or "the sleuthing of new words and phrases." Longtime wordsmith McFedries, author of more than 40 books on language, believes that new words are one of life's "small excellencies." Neologisms, he asserts, are one of the best ways of understanding a changing world and culture. He's not talking about made-up gag words, but actual new words that "have appeared multiple times in newspapers, magazines, books, Web sites, and other recorded sources," but dont' appear in a general dictionary.


Word Spy : The Word Lover's Guide to Modern Culture

by Paul McFedries

Adobe Reader edition, February 2004 (This title requires Adobe Reader 6.x)

Word Spy : The Word Lover's Guide to Modern Culture

by Paul McFedries

Microsoft Reader edition, February 2004

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
by Lynne Truss

Hardcover, Gotham Books, April, 2004
"Either this will ring bells for you, or it won't..."

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

by Lynne Truss

Acrobat Reader edition, Gotham Books, April, 2004

Metaphors We Live By [Paperback]
George Lakoff and Mark Johnson
Paperback, University Of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (April 15, 2003)
The authors explain how metaphors shape our perceptions and actions without our ever noticing them; and are essential to understanding how we think and how we express our thoughts in language.


PhotoShop "Must-have" Books for Image Collection Managers:

Real World Adobe Photoshop CS3 (Real World)
by David Blatner, Conrad Chavez, and Bruce Fraser

paperback, Peachpit Press (December 2007)
At 768 pages this is a tome covering all the essentials: the work environment (tools, palettes, preferences), working with images (resolution, mode, up- and downsampling), and the huge area of color management. Once you've got the basics down, the book covers more advanced techniques in the realm of tonal and color correction, selections and channels, and using adjustment layers. This latest version has a who section on building a digital workflow using the new Camera Raw capabilities in CS and working with the improved file browser.

Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS3 (Real World)
by Bruce Fraser and Jeff Schewe

Paperback, Peachpit Press: November 2007
Best-selling author Bruce Fraser, along with Jeff Schewe, show you how to take advantage of Adobe Camera Raw to set white balance, optimize contrast and saturation, handle noise, correct tint, and recover lost detail in images before converting them to another format.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Photographers : Professional Image Editor's Guide to the Creative Use of Photoshop for the Mac and PC
by Martin Evening

paperback, Focal Press; Bk&DVD edition (May 2007)
"Photoshop can be daunting, photography even more so. To have someone expertly versed in both, presenting his knowledge is a real treat." Marc Pawliger, Director of Engineering, Digital Imaging, Adobe Systems

Professional Photoshop: The Classic Guide to Color Correction (5th Edition)
by Dan Margulis

paperback, Peachpit Press; 5 edition (November, 2006)
Learn the basics and much more about color correction from "Photoshop Hall of Famer," Dan Margulis in "Professional Photoshop." This was the first book (earlier edition) that really taught me how to understand and use curves and other color correction tools in Photoshop. The material it covers is challenging stuff and highly technical in nature. It's important to realize that this book is primarily about production techniques for color correcting and refining images intended for printing on 4 color presses. However, if you're willing to invest the time, you'll find the concepts will make you highly productive at refining your raw images for many types of output such as color printers and high-volume copiers, not just offset presses.

Photoshop LAB Color : The Canyon Conundrum and Other Adventures in the Most Powerful Colorspace
by Dan Margulis

paperback, Peachpit Press; Bk&CD-Rom edition (August 8, 2005)
Learn the basics and much more about how to handle color correction using the LAB Colorspace.


Adobe Photoshop CS3 Studio Techniques
by Ben Willmore

paperback, Adobe Press; Bk&CD-Rom edition (December, 2007)

Photoshop Restoration & Retouching, 3rd Edition
by Katrin Eismann and Wayne Palmer

paperback, New Riders Press; 3 edition (November, 2006)

Adobe Photoshop Master Class
by John Paul Caponigro

paperback, Adobe Press; 2 edition (February 14, 2003)

>> additional books, and even music that might be of interest.

Legal References for Image Collection Managers:

Legal Handbook for Photographers: The Rights and Liabilities of Making Images
by Bert P. Krages

paperback, Amherst Media, Third Edition (June 2012)
This is a legal manual which can help photographers and image collection managers understand the basic matters of access and privacy, covering issues such as shooting images on private property, consent, and the photography of public groups. Subjects addressed include the legalities of photographing currency, stamps, securities, trademarks, seals, and insignia; military and nuclear installations; copyrighted materials; children; and animals. This updated handbook includes changes in the copyright and national security laws, including law as it applies to digital imaging as well as video and audio recording of public and private activities.

The Professional Photographer's Legal Handbook
by Nancy Wolff

paperback, Allworth Press (May 29, 2007)
Want to make a living in photography? Anyone who does needs this indispensable guide to licensing picture rights. In this accessible and entertaining book, expert Nancy E. Wolff explains copyright, trademark, contracts, and privacy. Real-world examples of cases, laws, and news items torn from today’s headlines illustrate the most urgent legal situations faced by photographers: requirements, limits, and enforcement of copyright and trademark; fair use and public domain; first amendment considerations; the law of privacy and publicity; and many more issues. Detailed information on drafting contracts and licensing agreements is included. The imprimatur of the Picture Archive Council of America assures readers that the information is comprehensive and up to the minute. The Professional Photographer’s Legal Handbook is an essential tool for everyone who works in photography—and everyone who wants to.

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