Specific terms are studied in terms of their linguistic aspect (grammar andsemantic form), scientific aspect, and frequency of use aspect, using specialisedprograms able to select, systematise and validate the use in the indexing process ofonly some terms that will become descriptors.Until these programs emerged, this selection and validation effort was exclu-sively the work of some groups consisting of linguists and librarians specialised inprocessing certain sciences and subjects. Currently this task is generally committedto national bibliographic agencies (national libraries) or national centers for infor-mation and documentation.All terms established this way create the indexing language, which is a classi-fication language with a specific syntax. Principles and rules used to select andvalidate descriptors and also the rules of item and information indexing are thesubject of some international standards developed in order to ensure unity andconsistency to the information classification process.The assembly of descriptors in a certain language represents an indexinginstrument called thesaurus.5.2.5ThesaurusIs a standard list of descriptors, alphabetically ordered, indicating semantic andlogical relationships (hierarchic and associative).Descriptors are unique accepted forms, therefore authoritative, and for thisreason controlled vocabularies and thesauri are known in library-science literatureas a list of authorities.Thesaurus or list of authorities’functions:•Ensures the control of descriptor’s use at the level of content description;•Allows the interrogation of an online catalogue (bibliographic database) in anatural language that the thesaurus translates into a classification language (al-lows also interrogation with excluded terms);•Facilitates“navigation”within a search with specific and generic questions;•Ensures completion of a search by investigations and on the associated term; and•Ensures a good understanding and usage of each term by applied notes andexplicative notes.5.2Cataloguing61
In indexing practice, several types of thesauri or list of authorities are known.The most well known and used are Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH),from Washington, United States of America, and the French version RAMEAU,which are monolingual thesauri or encyclopedic lists of authorities. (Holley1986;Rameau1991; Kao1999; Library of Congress1999)Thesauri are multidisciplinary because they gather terms from all sciences andsubjects. Due to their encyclopedic character, thus a large volume of systematisedinformation, this type of thesaurus is developed in a single language.Specialised thesauri came from information indexing necessitated by certaindomains. These are developed by professional associations, research institutes, orinternational organisations, rather than national bibliographic agencies.
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