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Construction and evaluation of logical hierarchical structures of indexing languages for online catalogs of libraries

The construction and updating of indexing languages depend on the organization of their logical hierarchical structures formed by categories and subcategories in order to determine the classification of related terms and, above all, to allow a constant updating of vocabulary, a fundamental condition for knowledge evolution. For this reason, a consistent methodology and support are required from other Knowledge Organization Systems that have proven useful and representative of knowledge areas. From this perspective, the present paper reports on the work of a team of catalogers and researchers in the area of Knowledge Organization and Representation for the construction of a logical hierarchical structure of an indexing language for the Athena online catalog of the Sao Paulo State University Julio de Mesquita Filho (UNESP) libraries’ network. Thus, the construction of the logical hierarchical structure began by defining the categories and subcategories that form the indexing language Macrostructure by using the macrostructure parameters of the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), the National Library Terminology as well as the Vocabulary of the University of Sao Paulo libraries’ system (VocaUSP). Although the latter language lacks the same foundation of the LCSH, as it is the case of the the National Library Terrminology, VocaUSP was selected because its development was based on the terminology of the knowledge areas offered at the University. It was possible to access the LCSH macrostructure via the “Classification Web”, a software available through the Library of Congress’ Web-based subscription service. Throughout the stages of the elaboration process of the Macrostructure, difficulties and improvements were observed and discussed. The results enabled the assessment of the hierarchical structures of the languages used in the organization of the superordinate and subordinate terms, which contributed to the systematization of operational procedures of the indexing language manual for online catalogs of libraries.