Malachi (the librarian) looked at me sternly: “Perhaps you do not know, or have forgotten, that only the librarian is allowed access to the library. It is therefore right and sufficient that only librarian know how to decipher these things.”
“But in what order are the books recorded in this list?” William asked. “Not by subject, it seems to me.” He did not sugges an order by author, following the same sequence as the letters of the alphabet, for this is a system I have seen adopted only in recent years, and at the same time it was rarely used.
“The library dates back to the earliest times,” Malachi said, “and the books are registered in order of their acquisition, donation, or entrance within our walls.”
“They are difficult to find, then” William observed.
“It is enough for the librarian to know them by heart …
The passage is taken from the book: “The name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco and the (fictional) episode (taking place sometime in the 14th century) is an interesting overview of the findability of information within a repository of books. Apparently, only the repositor (librarian) knew where the books were located and he was the only way to get information on the nature of the books.
It is astonishing to see how in all these centuries we have not evolved that organization of the knowledge sources which need be more accessible. We rely on social information or not-so-well organized system to find relevant knowlede or data.
Probably something that only the Semantic Web promises to solve. By annotating similar sources of knowledge through all the content within; by annotating repositories themselves as a collection of all the inner semantic information and only through a giant “web of knowledge” that can emerge in the future, related knowledge will be more accessible. (Although another problem of vast will arize, with too much information-error and little information.)