Claudio Gnoli

Glad to communicate with you. My full name is Claudio Tommaso Gnoli, pronounced /'klawdjo tom'ma:zo 'ɲɔ:li/, and this is my personal web space.

I work as a librarian, research knowledge organization, teach courses, and am active in professional journals and associations. I live in North-Western Italy; I can speak English, French, Italian, and guess Spanish, Latin and Gallo-Italic dialects.   [Se ch'l'é cus' chì: ingléz?!...]


I want to list the wind where it bloweth.   [Jason Farradane]

(Links point to subsets of my publications)

My main interest is knowledge organization (KO), that is, how the complex of human knowledge can be best organized into systematic outlines. This is ultimately a philosophical task (ontology, metaphysics). Principles for doing this have been developing especially in library and documentation services, and can be applied to any other knowledge source. I have written introductory papers or chapters on KO in general, and the different types of KO systems and structures, both in English and in Italian; many are available online, occasionally in audio or video form.

My favourite KO systems are faceted classifications: they are rich and powerful tools, though not that largely exploited yet (what computer people call "facets" tend to be only partial implementations). My involvement in updating the venerable Universal Decimal Classification goes in this faceting direction.

The possibility of a general, freely-faceted classification, already explored by the CRG, is what stimulates most of my original contributions, at several interdependent layers:

  • examining ontological views, especially emergentist evolutionism, the theory of levels of reality and the general systems theory, as philosophical foundations for KO, in both existing and new systems;
  • exploring how both common origin (phylogeny) and similarity (morphology) can be modeled in KO systems to represent relationships between phenomena;
  • emphasizing the potential of a classification by phenomena, as opposed to disciplines, for KO and interdisciplinary research, as expressed in the ⇗ León Manifesto;
  • developing and testing a classification flavour called freely faceted, allowing to combine any concept with any other one independently from disciplinary context. To this purpose I work together with other people in the ⇗ ILC project.

Combinatorics in KO reflects combinatorics in any informed system (my term), including matter, living forms, cognitive systems, and cultural heritage. I am working to develop an informational ontology along these lines.

Libraries and their online catalogues (OPACs) are one traditional, important service where KO should be applied, though not the only one: a great place for this is the Internet itself, especially in the new perspective of linked data and the semantic Web.

I am also interested in other (probably too many) fields, such as artificial languages and semiotics, cultural anthropology of NW Italy, wildlife, ... Maybe I can do something when retired?

X is no longer public, but here is the ZIP archive of my tweets, 2012-2023



I have done tens of short courses for librarians, master students etc., concerning strategies in searching information in the Internet, online public access catalogues, library websites, subject indexing and its application to the digital environment. At present my courses mostly concern:

  • knowledge organization from Dewey to the Semantic Web
  • facet analysis
  • subject indexing in online catalogues and directories

Peer reviewing

I serve as a peer reviewer for ISKO Encyclopedia of Knowledge Organization (2016-, co-editor and web editor), for various conferences (ISKO, UDCC, NKOS, COLIS, ICKM, FSR, Italian IA Summit) and for the following journals:

Also, occasionally for Axiomathes: an international journal in ontology and cognitive systems, les Cahiers du numérique, Information, Journal of information science, Journal of Information Science Theory and Practice, Journal of knowledge management, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Scire: representación y organización del conocimiento; for online paper collections Documenti ISKO Italia (2004-) and ESB forum (2013-), and in the past AIB-Web. Contributi (editor-in-chief, 2000-2008) and Bibliotime (2016-2018).

Pool activity

KO-unrelated organizations I am proud to belong:


Personal notes

I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well.   [HD Thoreau, Walden]

Books have always been around me since I was a child, and I soon realized that a basic question was which ones to read... When I was 7 years old, my grand-father Giulio Gnoli wrote that I had "a need for order, organization, almost cataloguing, of documentation", so that I was often "writing, making lists, establishing a precise sequence between persons and between facts, pretending to own large books where news and details could be searched for"... My nickname Scritur — "Writer" in Oltrepò dialects — has been coined by friend Franco Mela as I take notes on trivial things (actually of ethnographic interest) I hear about. It is a weird fate that my great-great-grandfather, my great-grandfather, my great-aunt, and my mother have also been librarians. I am pleased that my work contributes to the diffusion and use of knowledge, a cause without owners nor flag.

Though having been born in a frantic anonymous city, I feel much more bound to my mother's region, at the boundary between Pavia plain and the valleys of the Northern Apennine. The latter, also known as the Quattro Province, despite depopulation keep a remarkable heritage of traditions, including high-level folk music. I often find rural communities to be much more civilized and deep than urban ones. Maybe I am able to understand both thanks to my half-cast background (mez e mez, "grey area", as they say in our village).

I collect images of me and individual people and places important to me for various reasons, as well as some quotes. Classes of things I like include (sorted by integrative levels) silence, rivers, forests, cats, hiking, dining with good company, smoking pipe or cigars, independence, peaceful attitude, friendship, open-mindedness, deep-spirit women, languages, pluralism, welfare state, degrowth, the Internet, reading, watching auto racing, folk music and dances, art films, epistemological realism, humanism. I'm afraid I am not "ready to death" like in our militaristic national anthem, nor believe in just "one church" like in the catholic creed: I belong to the party of those who go out to vote, and the religion of those who do not want to destroy other religions.







«...Di' Scritur, ma t'é muntà ra testa, che ta scriv in ingléz o cul ch'l'é?!»

«Ma no, l'é che ra gent ch'a gh'piaz i stesi rob che mi j en mija tanti, e si ta spet da truvai dma in Itàllia, ta pö spetà un bel toch...»

«Va be', e alura j amiz da chì?»

«Par parlà con cuei lì u s' fa prima a veghse, o no?...»

Claudio Gnoli — <> : 2020.12 - 2023.11 -
« Claudio Gnoli — Università di Pavia. Dipartimento di Matematica <> : 2003.07 - 2021
« Claudio Gnoli's personal web site — Yahoo!-Geocities <> : 1998.07 - 2003.11