Libraries organize information. They also collect, preserve, and provide access to information (as well as a host of other things). But organizing information is key the mission of libraries.
I’m currently working on a project to rearrange some of our internal information. Our library has been using Windows SharePoint Services for about 18 months. Shortly after its introduction the SharePoint site became our de facto intranet site, and we’ve added a lot of content over the past year-and-a-half. Unfortunately, some of the content SEEMS rather disorganized. I say it “seems” disorganized, because I think in one very real way it is not disorganized at all. Close inspection (and discussion with content creators) reveals that documents have been added according to employees’ different organizing priorities.
This reminds me of a class I took during my library school program. We looked at how items can be organized and classified, and we did a number of exercises to explore some of the less-obvious characteristics that can be used for organization. As I look through our SharePoint content, I’m seeing several different organizational trends. Some people organized content according to the unit that created it. Others created new folders to contain similar content. Some quite simply put documents where they thought people were likely to look for them.
As we work to reorganize this content, I find myself constantly thinking of that nearly ubiquitous web 2.0 feature: tagging. Tagging is certainly no substitute for solid, well-ordered organization, but it can definitely provide additional access avenues to help guide people to content. It looks like there is at least one group out there that has implemented a tagging web part for SharePoint, so that’s a definite area for investigation!