Taxonomy - Open Community

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  • 1.  Required skills

    Posted 06-16-2022 03:32
    Hello SLA community!

    Although I am keeping my options open in terms of a career route (between archives, academic libraries, and special libraries), I am wondering what are the most important skills that companies are seeking for cataloging and taxonomist jobs. Hope to hear from you soon.



    Sereen Suleiman
    Masters in Library and Information Science Student
    San Jose State University

  • 2.  RE: Required skills

    Posted 06-16-2022 07:40
    Being detail oriented and having skills in data entry are really important!

    Having skills in searching databases and using Microsoft Excel is helpful too.

    Skills using RDA, ClassificationWeb, OCLC Connexion, XML, and MarcEdit will give you a leg up in a lot of cataloging jobs.


    Elizabeth Boniface 

  • 3.  RE: Required skills

    Posted 06-16-2022 13:38
    Hi Sereen,

    Our team at Access innovations / Data Harmony has built over 600 taxonomies from scratch and worked with over 2000 of them in miscellaneous engagements over the last 40 years. What we look for in a taxonomist is a broad general knowledge base, love of words and languages. People who are good at puns and double entendres are particularly excellent at organizing terms in different topical areas and finding synonym. Taxonomies need people can make relationships work both hierarchical and associative. They need to be able to see relationships between different kinds and types of objects. Of course we want people who can spell very well, And are willing to take on almost any subject area delving into the intricacies of the concepts related to its topics. We also like people who can think in outlines or make a lot of lists. Ones who can organize their own information as well as that of others. How do they have their books at home organized? By topic, alphabetically by author, by size and color, by pile?

    All that said pure taxonomy jobs are very rare. Most people need to do a lot of other things and maintain a taxonomy maybe 10 hours a month along with all their other duties such as tagging records, adding them to a database, ensuring search algorithms leverage their work, and websites work well etc.

    Job openings in archives are, from my perspective, increasing there’s a lot more stuff being produced every day that needs to be filed appropriately, retention schedule set, weeded, etc.

    Cataloging seems to be a dying breed as more and more shared cataloging and cataloging during the printing process is available. Of course that cataloging, even if it comes from another place, needs to be added to the online catalog, attached to an individual book or an object in the collection. Cataloging needs for museums and archives is expanding, Although those institutions complain about lack of funds.

    I hope that helps feel free to contact me directly if you would like to

    Marjorie Hlava
    Sent from my iPhone

  • 4.  RE: Required skills

    Posted 06-17-2022 14:35
    I've been on this listserv for a few months, though I haven't yet participated (huge project that is stressing me out and it's hard to break away from it) -- but I've so enjoyed this thread. I never thought about putting my love of words and language on a resume or cover letter when applying for jobs that include taxonomy work. I'm trying to shift from the work I currently do, much of which is paper-based, to remote work that includes taxonomies, metadata providing, etc. Thanks for all the insights, everyone!


    Valerie Kittell

  • 5.  RE: Required skills

    Posted 06-17-2022 17:34
    We often call our team WordSmiths

    I also want to second what Daryl mentioned about using the words the way the users use them.  We can try to force our view of their data through but it will never be widely engaged by the community.  For example, we have two clients who are associations, the American Society for Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research.  Both of them deal with Cancer.  But one looks at it from a Clinical perspective and the other from the research point of view.  One calls them cancers, the other calls them neoplasms.... same subject generally radically different terminology!.  The same taxonomy might appear it would cover the topic at hand but actually may totally miss the users content perspective! 

    Marjorie Hlava

    Marjorie Hlava

  • 6.  RE: Required skills

    Posted 06-17-2022 12:41
    Hi Sereen,

    I am not a taxonomist, but I have created taxonomies as a part of my job. I think in addition to what has been said above, skills in engaging with users are valuable with creating taxonomies. Unlike more traditional cataloging where you're working with provided schemas, creating taxonomies requires not only understanding different language possibilities, but then an understanding of how the users use those terms.

    Also, since I see you're an SJSU student, if you haven't taken INFO 247 Vocabulary Design, I highly recommend it. It's a fantastic class!

    Daryl Lee