The UK Chapter of the International Society for Knowledge Organisation

ISKO UK Executive Committee

Upon election, any member may serve on the Committee for up to four years, after which he or she is eligible for re-election for a further term of four years. A person holding one of the four offices described may not continue in that role for more than two consecutive terms. The Executive Committee may co-opt members at any time to fill vacancies.  More detail is available under the Members Area (restricted access).

The current members of the Executive Committee are (with links to their profile): 

Chair and Secretary

Sylvie Davies

I am the current Chair and Secretary of ISKO UK

I have recently retired from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, where I taught and researched on Knowledge Organization. I am also a member of the UDC (Universal Decimal Classification) editorial team. Apart from teaching and research activities, I have been involved in various aspects of information management in the oil and gas industry and at the Aberdeen Harbour Board via the delivery of taxonomy workshops and cross-industry forums.

I am now committed to promoting Knowledge Organization education, particular for information workers who have not benefited from a formal education in ILS and IM.

ISKO UK is in an enviable position globally thanks to the hard work of members who have contributed to very successful online events which attracted a wide audience concerned with the organisation of information. I will endeavour to promote sound governance practices to allow past, current and future contributors to deploy their talents and ideas in a stable environment.

I live in Scotland with my large extended family.

Vice Chair and Event Coordinator

Aida Slavic

As a long time member of ISKO and one of the founding member of the UK Chapter, I am currently serving as a Vice-Chair and Event Coordinator.  Apart from my roles in our Chapter I am also Vice Chair of the ISKO Scientific and Technical Advisory Council (ISKO STAC), member of ISKO's Editorial Board of the Knowledge Organization journal. In 2019, I helped establish the Low Countries Chapter of ISKO and I continue collaboration between our Chapters in event organization and promotion of knowledge organization in professional and academic communities.

My main job is editor-in-chief of the Universal Decimal Classification at the UDC Consortium (The Hague, Netherlands). I am also an adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Information and Communication Sciences at the University of Zagreb, Croatia where I occasionally participate as a lecturer of postgraduate courses in indexing languages, knowledge organization and information retrieval (my webpage).


Duncan J McKay

Treasurer ISKO UK - As Financial officer, the Treasurer provides strategic financial advice to the Executive Committee. In addition, the Treasurer has a number of routine responsibilities for financial policy and administration.  These responsibilities include maintaining the day to records of financial transactions and the production of a monthly financial summary for the Executive. The Treasurer also produces the Annual Accounts for the Chapter.  The Treasurer also provides assistance in respect of financial matters to the Events’ committee and Conference team.

Now, well, retired my professional career was spent mostly in the oil sector providing library and information services within a number of Upstream Oil Companies starting with BNOC in Glasgow and ending with ConocoPhillips in Aberdeen from whom I took early retirement in 2010. In the KO field my interests were, and remain, in classification schemes and their application in automated cataloguing systems.

Committee Member

Helen Challinor

I serve on the Executive Committee and the Events Committee of ISKO UK.

I have been a government librarian for nearly 30 years, with experience across a variety of different roles. I am currently the Departmental Taxonomist at the Department for Education where I manage, maintain and develop controlled subject vocabularies in the department. I am a Chartered Fellow of CILIP.

Committee Member

Dave Clarke

I was invited on to the executive committee to bring the perspective of a KO software tool provider and a KO consulting practice.

I am co-founder of Synaptica®, providers of enterprise knowledge organisation solutions. I lead R&D at Synaptica, including solutions for taxonomy and ontology management, text analytics and auto-categorisation, image indexing, and Linked Data. I was a contributing author of the US national standard for controlled vocabularies, ANSI/NISO Z39.19 (2005). In 2016 I was awarded the Knowledge Management Leadership Award by the Global Knowledge Management Congress. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Leadership Fellow of St. George’s House, Windsor Castle.

Committee Member

Deborah Lee

I am a Senior Teaching Fellow at University College London, where my responsibilities include leading the Cataloguing and Classification and the Knowledge Organisation modules. Previously, I taught information organisation as a Visiting Lecturer at City, University of London and as a Sessional Lecturer at Charles Sturt University, Australia. I was awarded my PhD in Library and Information Science in 2017, and my thesis is a deep analysis of the classification of Western art music. I am an active researcher in knowledge organisation, and my research interests include music classification, the nature of knowledge organisation systems, LRM/RDA for arts materials, and art knowledge organisation. My research has been published in LIS journals including Journal of Documentation, JASIST, Knowledge Organization, Journal of Library Metadata, and Information Research. Before joining UCL, I was the Joint Acting Head of the Book Library and Senior Cataloguer at The Courtauld Institute of Art.

Committee Member

Tara McDarby

Tara is a member of the ISKO UK Executive Committee

Committee Member

Ian Synge

I have been working in the knowledge organization field for over 20 years, predominantly in the publishing space, and with a particular interest in the application of vocabularies, taxonomies, and ontologies to help organizations solve business problems. To that end I have designed taxonomy systems using applications such as Verity/Autonomy, SmartLogic, and MarkLogic for organizations including NATO, Eni, and Nizhny Novgorod State University.

Currently a Principal Consultant with Massachusetts based Copyright Clearance Centre focused on content management, search solutions, and knowledge graphs, I have previously worked with Jane’s Information Services, Inchcape Shipping Services, and ICAEW.  My PhD Thesis (Aberystwyth 2001) focused on taxonomic interpretations of naval diplomacy in the late Cold War.

Based in South East London, I enjoy cooking, history, and looking after my middle-aged rescue cat.

Committee Member

Judi Vernau

I see my role on the Committee as providing some historical perspective, since I was one of the very earliest members of ISKO UK, and have been on the Committee for over 10 years.

I have been a practising information architect for over thirty years, and was the co-founder of Metataxis Ltd in 2002, a UK company specialising in information management and information architecture. My particular interest has always been in structuring and categorising content, and I’ve built metadata schemes, thesauri, taxonomies and ontologies for government, third sector and commercial organisations around the world. I am now based in New Zealand, where I have recently been working on options for an all-of-government ontology for Archives New Zealand, as well as researching the development and use of indigenous metadata. I run regular courses in information architecture at Victoria University Wellington.

Committee Member and Web Editor

David Watkins

I have taken the role of Web Editor for ISKO UK

I studied Librarianship and Information Studies (and International Politics) at Aberystwyth. My first knowledge organisation role was in the energy sector, including custodianship of a specialist collection with a very simple classification scheme. I became interested in the web and how crucial information architecture is to finding things on it. Later, in the pharmaceutical industry I employed a local taxonomy to help organise intranets and generally organise content into shape, and in the legal sector advocated a naming convention for distribution lists.

I hope you can see from this sample that I see the value of applying knowledge organisation to quite disparate areas. The reader may note these examples are not academic, and not of a particularly large scale, which I think can add perspective to the field.

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