Dear Dr. Yan Ma,
I took indexing at library school in 2007 and to this day consider it to be one of the most useful classes. In fact, obtaining indexing and cataloging skills were among the main driving factors for me to join a LIS program. Prior to LIS school, I was specializing in online publishing and building commercial aggregate databases for libraries since the mid 90s. As I was researching ways to develop better interfaces and access points for scholars, I came across Thomas Mann's "Library Research Models" and the author moved me to join the LIS school.
Since then, I was looking for ways to incorporate indexing/cataloging operations into the digital production streams. Several years ago, a very large digital project came by which finally gave this opportunity. The project collects tens of thousands of historical documents which are digitized and published in an online collection. Thanks to the indexing class, writing a description/indexing manual for the documents was not a big deal. Today, a group of 8 specialists describe and index hundreds of documents daily using the manual. The assigned index terms form a developed Index to the digital collection which makes researchers happy. Like Thomas Mann and many others in the LIS field, I see a great value for researchers in the "pre-coordinated access" to large collections, and would highly recommend indexing and cataloging classes to LIS students who are thinking of the digital venues in libraries, archives and other organizations.
Since we are on the topic of library education, I should also mention that I was about to complete the LIS program when I took a demanding position in an academic library and had to take a break from the school. Busy years passed by in a flash, and when I returned to the LIS program to complete it, I found out that half of what I learned has changed too much over the years and is no longer relevant, and that the courses cannot be counted towards degree requirements. This included:
- 2 core required courses “Information Organization & Access” and “Librs, Info & Society”
- Change Management and Leadership in Libraries (Adv Prob in LIS), and
- Cataloging & Classification I
So while contemplating on the speed of change in the library education field I have also settled with the idea of remaining an eternal LIS student :)