What is Knowledge Organization?

The study of logic by philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle led to the development of formal ideas of classification which have been used for centuries by physical libraries, and which have advanced still further in electronic repositories. The use of Knowledge Organization (KO) can also be seen in ground-breaking advances such as Linnaean taxonomy in biology and Mendeleev’s periodic table in chemistry. Good KO helps people find things, and even organize their own thinking.

Now KO techniques are used in all sectors — business, industry, health, education, cultural heritage and more — for mission-critical purposes. KO has applications in everything from websites to postcodes, from supermarket shelves to Amazon, from GPS to demographics, and from advertising to the Semantic Web.

  • At the personal level, we test our KO skills as we try to keep abreast of our emails, or search among last year’s files on our desktop computer, or follow links across the World Wide Web.
  • In society, democracy and the administration of justice should be supported by well organized databases of statistics and forensic evidence.
  • Scientific progress currently generates terabytes of data, quantitative and qualitative, in all the media known to technology; but this is useful only when it is available to diverse researchers.
  • At the corporate level, organizations must keep track of what they have done in the past, as well as their commitments to partners and customers; they need immediate access to their intellectual resources — whether documented, or in the memories of employees.
  • In government, the delivery of services such as education, health and social care requires records to be kept accurately, while secure and easily available.
  • Most cultural activities increasingly organize and draw on a heritage of precious resources, physical and intellectual.

Who are we?

ISKO-LC is the Low Countries Chapter of ISKO, the International Society for Knowledge Organization. We are a not-for-profit scientific/professional association dedicated to promoting the theory and practice of Knowledge Organization through the pursuit of four key objectives:

  • To establish an active membership of people with an interest in Knowledge Organization (KO), whatever their background or qualifications
  • To explore the scope and role of KO and its value to society, to publicize the results and to spread the understanding that emerges
  • To enable members to develop a community of interest and to build bridges between those working in different sectors, particularly between researchers and practitioners.
  • To encourage and support the next generation of KO researchers and practitioners.


The governance of ISKO-LC is in the hands of the executive board:

Chair: Steven Laporte (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) (chair[@t]isko-lc.org)
Vice Chair: Open position. Want to apply? Contact us.
Secretary: Ronald Siebes (DANS) (secretary[@t]isko-lc.org)
Treasurer: Open position. Want to apply? Contact us.

Senior advisors to the chapter are

  • Charles van den Heuvel
  • Richard Smiraglia


The International Society for Knowledge Organization (ISKO) was founded in 1989. Currently it has more than 500 individual and corporate members and a worldwide reach, with 14 Regional Chapters. Every two years members come together in an international conference, of which the latest was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Members’ subject fields include information science, philosophy, linguistics, computer science and other specialist domains such as medical informatics, and their interests are reflected in the journal Knowledge Organization.

The ISKO-LC chapter is to be formally established at a conference to be held in Brussels in June 2019.

(general information about KO and ISKO courtesy of ISKO UK)