I'll add my two cents to this. I, too, took a course on indexing and abstracting. I found indexing to be more enjoyable. Abstracting is not as enjoyable but understanding its importance has stayed with me over the years, especially when it comes to writing an abstract for my articles. It's the more difficult of the two skills. I talk about a variety of indexing and abstracting processes in several of my classes. Yes, there is technology that might do these processes for you, but all librarianships/information scientists/information professionals should understand how they are created and how they work to in information retrieval, subject representation, and relevancy (i.e., helping the user to judge the relevance of a resource to their information need).

As for the "outdated" and "traditional"--it may be traditional, but that doesn't mean outdated. There are still indexes and people who work as indexers, as there those who abstract or summarize information resources. This should not be difficult to understand. The skill of extracting meaningful words, concepts, phrases, etc., is still needed.

It reminds me of a conversation I had about 21 or so years ago with a person at ASIST who occupied an influential elected position within the organization. We argued over the value of cataloging and catalogs--this person, who I recall had a more non-LIS IT background, declared that because we now had full-text capabilities that library catalogs were no longer needed and would be quickly replaced.  I'm still waiting for that to happen.


Shawne D. Miksa, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Information Science
College of Information
University of North Texas
email: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
office 940-565-3560 fax 940-565-3101