What is Documentation?

The word ‘Documentation’ derived from Document meaning official paper. Document means material that provides official information or evidence or that serves as a record.
The connotational meaning of documentation is processing of information or document. Documentation is that process that process by which the documents are ready to use in a stratified way i.e. the process of classifying and annotating texts, photographs etc. Documentation is a set of documents provided on paper or online or on digital or analogue media, such as, audio tape or CDs. Professionals educated in this field are termed documentalists. This field best known as Information Service.
Documentation as a process by which we brought together, classified and distributed all documents of all kinds of all the areas of human activity.

Documentation as the art of collecting classifying and making readily accessible the records of all intellectual activity. (S.C. Braclford – 1948)

Types of Documentation:
There are two types of documentation, they are:

  1. Active Documentation.
  2. Passive Documentation.

Now they are described below.
1. Active Documentation: Active documentation is an activity done inside the archives or library. This kind of in-house activity help to know/ understand what kind collections are acquisitions are there in the library. This type of work is called Active Documentation or documentation work. e.g. A librarian create index, abstracting, bibliography, catalogue so that the user get their required need and these activities are done in the absence of the information users.

The activity done in active documentation are:

  • Abstracting Service.
  • Indexing Service.
  • Subject Bibliography.
  • Classified Cataloguing.
  • Review Digest.
  • Translation service.
  • Current Awareness Service (CAS).
  • Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) service.
  • Union Catalogue.

2. Passive Documentation: Passive documentation is a service which is done in the presence of the user.

Passive  documentation contains:

  •   i. Literature search and preparation of reading list.
  •  ii. Location of documents.
  • iii. Document procurement.
  • iv. Location of translation.
  •  v. Preparation of copies of documents.

Document is a Cycle Process:
According to Ralph R. Shaw documentation is a cycle process. He thinks that documentation is a complete cycle of information service. There are 8 steps to be a document. They are:

  1. Identification,
  2. Recording,
  3. Organization,
  4. Storage,
  5. Recall,
  6. Conversion,
  7. Synthesis,
  8. Dissemination.


Fig: Documentation cycle system
This are described bellow elaborately:
1. Identification:  Identification means to identify and select appropriate information for the user. The process of identify information of a document are-
    • Catalogue,
    • Classification,
    • Bibliography,
    • Descriptive bibliography,
    • Subject bibliography,
  • Indexing and Abstracting.
2. Recording: All the information is recorded for future use and research purpose. Recording consists of followings:
  • Accessioning,
  • Cataloguing,
  • Indexing,
  • Bibliography,
  • Classification.

3. Organization: Organizing all the information is very important. All the desired information should be organized in a systematic way, so that we can easily able to find them. Organization can be done by:

  • Assessing the extent/ amount of information.
  • Identify the language of information and using appropriate language.
  • Explaining the nature of information.
  • Evaluating publication quality.
  • Presenting the quality of information.

4. Storage: For the future use, document should be stored in a systematic way. Storage process might be done properly in two ways.

  a. Ancient/traditional Library System:
  • Acquisition.
  • Accession.
  • Cataloguing.
  • Classification.
  • Indexing.
  • Abstracting.
  • Written call number.
  • Bibliography.
  • Typing.
  • Shelf arrangement.

b. Modern System:

  • Microfilm,
  • Microfiche,
  • Photocopy,
  • Computer Catalogue,
  • Magnetic tape,
  • Magnetic Core,
  • Magnetic Disk,
  • Floppy Disk,
  • CD-ROM.

5. Recall: Document should be stored in such a way so that, users can easily retrieved them. To recall according to the demand of information, some methods are applicable.

  • Catalogue,
  • Vertical Catalogue,
  • Classification,
  • Bibliography,
  • Indexing.

6. Conversion: Documents are published in many forms, format and
language. But most of the user does not have enough skill to read all
document. To solve this problem, librarian translate those materials in
user friendly way.

  • Translation from one language to another.
  • Transforming language used in a document into another artificial language.

7. Synthesize: Synthesize means something made by combining different things. For this purpose, all the document should be synthesize so that user can easily select the. For this we should follow this process:

  • Content analysis,
  • Recording the results,
  • Vocabulary control,
  • Question analysis.

8. Dissemination: Dissemination of information is the main purpose of documentation. The main duty of a documentalist is to provide the document at the hand of the user within a minimum cost. For this use some medium:

  • Computer,
  • Tele-printer,
  • Telephone.
  • Postal services,
  • Fax,
  • News-clipping service,
  • Reference service,etc.

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