Index, Indexer, Indexing /Rothman, J.(1974)

Citation - Rothman, J. (1974). Index, indexer, indexing. In A. Kent, H. Lancour & J. E. Daily (Eds.), Encyclopedia of library and information science (Vol. 11, pp. 286-299). New York: Marcel Dekker.

Keyword - index, indexing


Definition -

Indexing is the process of creating the entries in an index. The essential operations in theis process are: (1) scanning the collection, (2) analyzing tis content, this content analysis being based on predetermined criteria of use of the collection and the index, (3) tagging discrete items in the collection with appropriate identifiers, and (4) adding to each identifier the precise location within the collection where the item occurs, so that it may be retrieved. Additional functions, which may but need not be performed by the same indexer, are: (1) cumulating the resulting entries into a cohesive, consistent whole, (2) establishing rules for the selection of identifiers, (3) establishing a pattern of interrelationship of identifiers (through cross references, tracings, and scope notes), (4) establishing the format of the locator, and (5) determining the physical form in which the completed index is to be published or otherwise mede available for use.

Index function

The function of an index is simultaneously synthetic and syndetic. In choosing apt identifiers and interrelating them, the indexer must constantly strive to include all items that the user might wish to recall in a given search, and to exclude any that the user would find irrelevant or trivial, the decision is often agonizing, and must be made again and again at different stages of the indexing process. It must be made at the most specific point, when determining whether a given item in the collection is to be added to those already teggeed with a given identifier, and much earlier, at a far more general point, when determining the general nature of the vocabulary, the kinds of identifiers to be used.
In carrying out the synthetic-syndetic function, the indexer must exercise his own judgment, which may often differ from and even supersede that of the creator of the indexed collection or item (e.g., the author of the article). The index must bring together cognate items that may be scattered in the source, and it must segregate disparate or only superficially related material that may be contiguous in the source. The indexer must view the source material dispassionately and objectively, keeping uppermost in mind the likely characteristics of the users and their probable purposes. It is for the reason that the original author is rarely the best indexer of his work.

subordinate and coordinate indexing


word and concept indexing




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