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Knowledge Organization Systems

Hanging Together: “That was the topic discussed recently by OCLC Research Library Partners metadata managers, initiated by Daniel Lovins of Yale and Stephen Hearn of the University of Minnesota. As controlled vocabularies and thesauri are converted into linked open data and shared publicly, they often separate from their traditional role of facilitating collection browsing and find a renewed purpose as Web-based knowledge organizations systems (KOS). As Marcia Zeng points out in Knowledge Organization Systems (KOS) in the Semantic Web: a multi-dimensional review, “a KOS vocabulary is more than just the source of values to be used in metadata descriptions: by modeling the underlying semantic structures of domains, KOS act as semantic road maps and make possible a common orientation by indexers and future users, whether human or machine.” Good examples of such repurposing are the Getty Vocabularies, which not only allow browsing of Getty’s representation of knowledge, but also help users generate their own SPARQL queries that can be embedded in external applications. Another example is Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC), which enables browsing of entities and relationships independently of their collections of origins. In such cases, the discovery tool pivots to being person-centric (or family-centric, or topic-centric.), rather than (only) collection-centric. BIBFRAME, RDA, and IFLA-LRM vocabularies may prove similarly valuable as knowledge organization systems on the Web…”

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