Information Organization System Design Project | Organizational Design


Information Organization System Design Project of this assignment[1] is to give you the opportunity to design your own Information Organization System Design Project | Organizational Designorganization system for a specific collection of your choosing.  As no information system is “perfect”, your system should be designed with your users in mind and based on sound principles of information organization and user-centered design.  You may model existing systems (online public access catalogs, knowledge management systems, etc.), but you are not required to do so.  (If you decide to model an existing system, be sure you give proper attribution to the system and its owners.)  This is your opportunubity to “think outside of the box”!

The assignment objectives are as follow:

  • You will explore concepts presented in the course
  • You will apply concepts and practices of information organization
  • You will reassess traditional organization systems and practices
  • You will gain a deeper understanding of the processes of organizing information and designing a user-centered organization system

This assignment will allow you to meet the following LIS571 Course Objectives:

  • Course Obj. 1: Explain the nature of information in its many forms
  • Course Obj. 2: Demonstrate an understanding of the issues in and approaches to information representation and apply this understanding in the analysis and design of information systems.
  • Course Obj. 3: Explain the role of user requirements in the design of information systems.
  • Course Obj. 5: Demonstrate an understanding of information organization and representation; Design the conceptual data schema and the knowledge organization system for an information system to be used with a given collection.

This assignment will allow you to meet the following LIS Program Goals with regard to information organization:

  • Goal 1: Graduates will demonstrate an understanding of Library and Information Studies, including its historical roots, as well as the creation, representation, organization, dissemination, and use of information.
  • Goal 2: Graduates will demonstrate an understanding of the domain knowledge and a mastery of skills required in diverse information environments.
  • Goal 3: Graduates will demonstrate professional competences, including leadership, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, reflective practice, and ethical adherence
  • Goal 4: Graduates will be able to apply an understanding of the library information professions and the roles, responsibilities, and professional dispositions (i.e., values, attitudes, behaviors).


Project Drafts

You will submit this assignment twice during the course of the semester.

  • Draft 1 will include only Sections 1 – 4.1. I will review this first draft and provide comments. Draft 1 will not be graded but must be complete as instructed. Incomplete drafts will returned and will not be reviewed.
  • The complete final draft will be the Final Report and will include all sections 1-6. This Final Report will include all sections and any revisions to your first draft. Be sure to remove all of my comments from the Report before submitting. This Final Report should be presented as you would present a report to a supervisor.

Due dates are posted on the learns Assignments page. The table below details what to submit.

Draft NumberSections to SubmitDue Date
Draft 1Sections 1 – 4.1
Final ReportSections 1 – 6.  This should include all revisions suggested by the instructor in Draft 1. All instructor comments removed.


Format the document with one-inch margins on all sides and a half-inch margin for header. Do not include a separate title page. (These formatting instructions require basic word processing knowledge which is your responsibility to have already obtained as a pre-requisite to entering this program).

At top right on page 1, type two lines: your full name and date of submission.  Then center the project title (name of collection) above the first report heading.

Create a one-line header at top right, beginning on page 2, with your last name and page number (e.g., White p. 2).

Section headings and subheadings should be worded and ordered exactly as shown in these assignment instructions. Write narrative text only under the subheadings, not main headings.

For all text, use 12-point type. Type narrative copy single-spaced within paragraphs and double-spaced between paragraphs. Lengths of narrative subsections will vary, but are likely to be about 1/3 to 1 page per subsection, longer for section 4.   Spell-check the draft and final report.

 Submission Instructions

Submit each draft electronically via learns. The document should be a single file in Word (.doc or .docx). If you do not have Word, you can submit an .rtf or open docs file.

You must name the file using the following file naming convention:

[Last name][First name initial]-OrgProjDraft1.docx
[Last name][First name initial]-OrgProjFinal.docx

For instance, if John Smith was to turn in the first draft and final report, the filenames would be:

 This assignment is worth 35% of the course grade

Grading is based on the following criteria:

  • Ability to follow all directions of the assignment
  • Accurate completion of all sections of the assignment by the due dates assigned
  • Implementation of instructor’s comments and suggestions in the final report
  • User-centered nature of the system (choice of elements appropriate to your collection and users, etc.)
  • Accurate application of the principles of organizing information as learned in the course.


You have been given the task of creating an organization system for a new collection that does not have an existing organization scheme in place.

Tasks to complete:

  1. You will choose a collection to work with from the list of generic collections listed below. Your collection can be an existing collection or a fictional one you construct for the purpose of the assignment.  Imagine that the chosen collection contains at least 1,000 items.  Choose a collection for which you can have physical or virtual access.  You will need to obtain a sample of five objects that represent the collection to use throughout the assignment.  I have provided three generic sample collections to choose from as listed below:
  • A collection of fiction or nonfiction books in a school, public or academic library (if nonfiction, they should pertain to the same subject matter; if fiction, to the same genre)
  • A collection of webpages or websites. You may choose the subject of the sites, but they should all pertain to the same subject (e.g. technology in schools, fly fishing, quilting, etc.)
  • A collection of non-print objects (prints, images, coins, videos, memorabilia, etc.) Do not choose more than two different formats to work with.
  1. Give the collection a name. (Use the name as the title of the collection on the first page of the assignment document you will produce.)
  2. Complete the narrative of the project by following the directions outlined in the next section.


Following the assigned formatting and using ALL of the headings and subheadings listed below, complete each section that follows to describe the design of your organization system.  Be sure to read each section carefully, so you do not leave out parts of the system design process.  You may not use first person voice in Sections 1-5 of the narrative.  In Section 6 you may use first person.

Information Organization System Design Project | Organizational Design


PART I. Collection description and its information objects:

  • Location of collection:

Identify and describe the environment or location in which this collection resides.  For example, tell me if it is in a library (what type), museum, store, business, your home, etc.  Be specific.  I need as much detail as is necessary in order to properly assess the collection.  Give geographic location (city and state if known).  Location can impact purpose, user groups, demographics, and design.

1.2 Purpose of the collection:

Generally identify the users that will use the collection.  Explain the purpose of the collection: recreational, research, local history, retail, etc

1.3 Physical and intellectual aspects of objects:

Describe the collection and its objects. Explain all of the physical formats (books, vinyl records, DVDs, webpages, etc.) included and the intellectual aspects (subjects) of the objects in your collection of 1,000 objects. Remember the collection must contain at least 1,000 items, so you should describe it as such, even if it is a hypothetical/imaginary collection.

 1.4 Extent of collection and plans for growth

Describe the size of the collection and whether or not the collection will continue to grow. If so, explain potential resources; for example, it will grow by acquisitions, or donations, etc.  Be specific.  If it will not continue to grow, explain why.

PART II. Users of the collection:

2.1 User group(s)

You will identify all user group(s) that may use the collection.  You may have one or more user groups, depending of the collection and its location.  It is useful to think about and refer to your groups as “primary” and “secondary” users if you have more than one group.  If you use this way of describing your groups, then use this same convention throughout Section 2.  If you have more than two primary user groups and find this section unwieldy, then limit the groups to two that you feel would be the most likely users of the collection.

2.2 Use Demographics:

Briefly describe the demographics of your user group(s).  This section should include information on gender, ethnicity, age, occupation, primary language(s) spoken, etc.  Refer to class discussion on “Users & Systems” for some of the demographic variables to consider.

Explain how demographics might impact your representation system design (not interface design or features you would add to the system, unless they directly are related to representation design).

2.3 Types and levels of knowledge:“

This description of the users should include a brief discussion on the four types and levels of knowledge as discussed in class. Refer also to the Allen, 1991 reading. List the 4 types of knowledge using the headings noted below:

Domain knowledge:

System knowledge:

Task knowledge:

World knowledge:

List these types and levels of knowledge and for each of your user groups. Explain how these types and levels of knowledge might impact your system design (not interface design or features you would add to the system, unless they directly are related to representation design).

2.4 User problems and questions

Tasks to complete: (this is simply a list of tasks to complete in order to complete 5A and 5B below. Tasks 1-4 are not part of the narrative and should not be included in your text.)

 Consider the kinds of situations that motivate users to seek information from the collection: their information problems or needs and how those are translated into requests to the system. Think about their purposes for using the collection.

  1. Brainstorm a list of two to three typical users’ information problems and requests, or the kinds of questions they ask with regard to your question. With your 5 sample objects in mind, think of what your users might ask in order to retrieve one of them. In other words, what information about the objects do your users usually come into an information seeking situation already knowing?
  2. Identify the attributes of the information objects that these user questions suggest.  Attributes are general characteristics or properties (e.g., name, creator, physical description) of information objects. Attributes that are important to users, as indicated by their questions, suggest characteristics of the objects that should be described in your system.
  3. Consider also that user requests imply expectations for information system retrieval performance, such as levels of recall and precision.
  4. Write the narrative for this section by completing A and B as described below.
    1. Begin this section with a short paragraph generally describing users’ information needs or information need situations, that is, what they are looking for and why they are looking for it.
    2. List three user questions or requests (from the questions you brainstormed above), the object attributes they suggest, and the desired precision and recall, using the format below:

 User Question 1

Suggested Attributes:

Desired Precision/Recall:

User Question 2:

Suggested Attributes:

Desired Precision/Recall:

User Question 3:

Suggested Attributes:

Desired Precision/Recall:

 PART III. System design:

 You will design the information system/database field structure used to organize the collection. We are not going to actually create the system in a database management system, but you will model the field structure and indexing scheme, semantics, syntax, and input rules on paper, a necessary design step when creating an organization system.

3.1 Entity level / unit of analysis and why appropriate

Decide on the entity level / unit of analysis at which you are representing each object (whole object, chapter level, article level, etc.). Explain why you think this is the appropriate entity level(s) for the collection. You may have more than one entity level but you must justify its appropriateness in your discussion.
Be mindful, that if more than one entity level or unit of analysis, your system may become more complex.

3.2 Attributes chosen and their appropriateness to the collection

Identify the attributes or general characteristics of objects in your collection. Remember that the samples you have chosen are representative of the larger 1,000 item collection, so the attributes should reflect this.

Explain why you think these each of these attributes are necessary to represent the objects in your collection.

3.3 Field names and indexing decisions

  1. Use a Word table formatted like the one below to show your attributes, how they translate into field names (depending on your desired precision/recall), and your indexing decision for each. See sample table below.

Example of Word table showing attributes, field names, and indexing decisions:

General AttributeField NameSearchable? (y or n)
CreatorMain AuthorYes
Physical DescriptionNo. of PagesNo
  1. Following the table outlined above, include a paragraph explaining your indexing decisions. Your discussion should include an explanation of your rationale for indexing each field, as well as discussion of why you chose not to index certain fields. Hint: you might want to look at user questions and the attributes you identified.

 PART IV: Semantics, Syntax, and Input Rules

In this section you will be outlining and defining the fields within your system. You will write clear, concise semantics for each of the fields in your system. You will also create clear, concise input rules for each field, to instruct the record creator in how to create consistent entries in the field. These rules are NOT used by users to search, so they should not include searching instructions.

 4.1 Field Names and Semantics:

List field names and semantics (definitions). Please keep the fields in the same order as in the Table in 3.3. Definitions should be broad and not circular but should describe the data to include in the field.  Use examples only if necessary to clarify meanings. You may use the Dublin Core readings or the AACR2R2 as examples of semantics within metadata schemes. Do not copy semantics from the AACR2R2 or the Dublin Core or any other existing metadata scheme. The point of this assignment is for you to create your own scheme.

Be sure to include all fields, including and fields used for Subject and Classification.

 Include: List of fields and semantics, using a table format like this:

Field NameSemantics
TitleThe identifying name given to the information object.
AuthorEntity responsible for original content, such as author, illustrator, composer.

David Marks

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