Saturday, February 25, 2017


Information Access Through The Subject

  • What is an index?
  • What are the most trusted definitions of an index?

          The term ‘index’  has been derived from the Latin word ‘indicare’ which means to indicate or to point out. Here it refers to guide to a particular concept in a document.
          Index is a systematic guide of items contained in a document or concepts derived from it. Items denote the name of the author, title, etc.; concepts may be like classification, cataloguing, etc. To elaborate a bit more it may be said that an index is a systematic guide to the items of published literature in a collection or concepts derived from a collection.
          The purpose of an index is to locate and retrieve the needed items or concepts in a collection.
          An index is consist of entries. Each entry is a unit of an index. These entries are arranged in a systematic order.
An index consists of two parts:
(i) Descriptive part – It gives items, ideas and concepts
(ii) Location Part – It gives the location where the items or concepts has been discussed or is available.
Chakrabortty and Chakrabarti defines an index as:
          “A systematic guide to the items of a collection or the concepts derived from it. It comprises entries arranged in a known or searchable order, with references to show where each item indexed is located.”
The British Standard B.S. 3700:1954 defines an index as:
          “A systematic guide to the location of words, concepts or other items in books, periodicals or other publications. An index consists of series of entries appearing, not in the order in which they appear in the publication, but in some others (e.g. alphabetic) chosen to enable the users to find them quickly, together with to show where each item is located”.
The Harrod’s Librarians’ Glossary defines an index in the following ways:
1. A systematically arranged list giving enough information for each item to be traced by means of a page number or other symbol indicating its position in a sequence.
2. A systematic guide to the location of the words, concepts or other items in publications, documents, and other records. An index consists of a series of entries appearing in some logical order, usually alphabetical, which enables the user to find then easily, together with references to show where each item is located.
3. A systematic guide to items contained in, or concepts derived from a collection. These items, or derived concepts, are represented by entries arranged in a known, or stated, searchable order such as alphabetical, chronological or numerical.
(ANSI  Z39.4-1968)
Source: (Chapter 2) Information Access Through The Subject : An Annotated Bibliography / by Salman Haider. - Online : OpenThesis, 2015. (408 pages ; 23 cm.)

Annotated bibliography titled Information Access Through The Subject covering Subject Indexing, Subject Cataloging, Classification, Artificial Intelligence, Expert Systems, and Subject Approaches in Bibliographic and Non-Bibliographic Databases etc. 

MLIS Thesis is available and discussed in following places: 
Information Access Through The Subject

The project "annotated bibliography" was worked out as Master of Library & Information Science (MLIS) dissertation in the Department of Library and Information Science, Aligarh Muslim University, IndiaInformation Access Through The Subject is a very much appreciated work (see Testimonials). It earned the author S. Bashiruddin – P. N. Kaula Gold Medal, Post Graduate Merit Scholarship, First Division, and IInd Position in the MLIS program.

This article forms a part of Glossary of Library & Information Science.
Glossary of Library & Information Science


  • Revised 2017-02-25 
  • Written 2017-02-25 



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