The Discipline of Organizing

The Discipline of Organizing

Edited by Robert J. Glushko

A framework for the theory and practice of organizing that integrates the concepts and methods of information organization and information retrieval.





A framework for the theory and practice of organizing that integrates the concepts and methods of information organization and information retrieval.

Organizing is such a common activity that we often do it without thinking much about it. In our daily lives we organize physical things—books on shelves, cutlery in kitchen drawers—and digital things—Web pages, MP3 files, scientific datasets. Millions of people create and browse Web sites, blog, tag, tweet, and upload and download content of all media types without thinking “I'm organizing now” or “I'm retrieving now.”

This book offers a framework for the theory and practice of organizing that integrates information organization (IO) and information retrieval (IR), bridging the disciplinary chasms between Library and Information Science and Computer Science, each of which views and teaches IO and IR as separate topics and in substantially different ways. It introduces the unifying concept of an Organizing System—an intentionally arranged collection of resources and the interactions they support—and then explains the key concepts and challenges in the design and deployment of Organizing Systems in many domains, including libraries, museums, business information systems, personal information management, and social computing.

Intended for classroom use or as a professional reference, the book covers the activities common to all organizing systems: identifying resources to be organized; organizing resources by describing and classifying them; designing resource-based interactions; and maintaining resources and organization over time. The book is extensively annotated with disciplinary-specific notes to ground it with relevant concepts and references of library science, computing, cognitive science, law, and business.


$45.00 X ISBN: 9780262518505 560 pp. | 8 in x 9 in 50 b&w illus.


Robert J. Glushko

Robert J. Glushko is Adjunct Full Professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the coauthor (with Tim McGrath) of Document Engineering: Analyzing and Designing Documents for Business Informatics and Web Services (MIT Press).


  • This ambitious and well-written book provides a foundation of the theory and practice of organizing. It is highly recommended to library and information science academics who incorporate the concept of organizing or organization into their courses.

    Library Journal


  • A masterful piece of work.

    Don Norman

    author of Living with Complexity and The Design of Everyday Things

  • This book is long overdue. Robert Glushko demystifies the discipline of organizing things, making the case for a unified approach to the way we arrange things and the information about them. This book is not only jam-packed full of extremely practical advice, it's a fascinating read loaded with examples from all walks of life. A must-read!

    Scott Abel

    The Content Wrangler, Inc.

  • The Discipline of Organizing is an innovative synthesis of library science and computer science that is both of fundamental interest and entirely practical. It is a must-read for all students, faculty, and practitioners who aspire to be better designers of product and service systems.

    James C. Spohrer

    Director, IBM University Programs Worldwide

  • This is a wonderfully executed book that represents a significant new way, in both form and substance, of thinking about knowledge representation within an expanding interdisciplinary field. It is an ideal introduction to the conceptual and technical problems of knowledge representation that will serve library and information professionals and those in many other professional fields. It provides an exemplary model for rethinking the core library and information curriculum toward an inevitable, broader, and more inclusive information discipline.

    Ron Day

    Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Science, University of Indiana


  • Co-winner of the 2014 Best Information Science Book awarded by the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS& T).