The Accidental Taxonomist


I’ve had the honour of writing the foreword for Heather Hedden’s new book The Accidental Taxonomist which will be published in the next few weeks - here’s a snippet of what I wrote, to give you a flavour of the book:

“The need for information organization has drawn practitioners from several loosely related disciplines: librarianship, publishing, information architecture, indexing, data, and information and knowledge management, among others. So we have a loose coalition of taxonomy professionals of varying levels of experience, many of them teleported into taxonomy work from elsewhere (or “accidental” taxonomists, as Hedden puts it), many of them combining taxonomy responsibilities with other duties, and bringing different backgrounds, skills, and approaches to their work. The field desperately needs a practical literature to bring together the key elements of taxonomy work for this diverse range of practitioners, particularly for those who have found themselves with taxonomy responsibilities without much prior theoretical or technical preparation….

Hedden’s book, The Accidental Taxonomist, provides that critical link at the 100 feet “how do I do this?” level, and rather than focusing on the enterprise as Stewart and I have done, she has focused on what a taxonomy practitioner—especially the “accidental” taxonomist—needs to know, in all its nitty gritty, technical glory. She has done this in an accessible, systematic, clear and organized way, covering the pathways into taxonomy work, what it means to build and manage taxonomies, how to work with taxonomy software, how to make a living as a taxonomist, where to network and build knowledge and skills, and how to plan and run taxonomy projects.

The best use of this book, I am sure, will be as a practical field guide to taxonomy work. Every taxonomist, accidental or not, should have a copy close by. This is a formidable piece of work, whose success will be measured by the well-grounded confidence it inspires, and the consistency and quality of the taxonomy work that it enables.”

Read the full Foreword here; and if you want to benefit from a substantial pre-order discount, buy from here. Heather will be at the Special Libraries Conference in New Orleans in mid June (as will I) – do catch up with us there if you’re in the mood for cajun, taxonomy and jazz!

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