Magazine article Information Today

NISO Workshop on Electronic Thesauri Recommends Development of Interoperability

Magazine article Information Today

NISO Workshop on Electronic Thesauri Recommends Development of Interoperability

Article excerpt

In early November, the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) convened a group of experts at an invitational workshop on electronic thesauri to investigate the need for standards. This workshop was a result of the review of the ANSI/NISO Z39.19-1993 (R1998) standard (Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Thesauri) that recommended such an investigation.

At the end of 1 1/2 days of intense discussion, the group arrived at a consensus that a new standard is needed to supplement Z39.19 rather than supersede it. This new standard should include thesauri and controlled vocabularies such as ontologies, classifications, taxonomies, and subject headings. Using "electronic" in the title of the new standard was deemed superfluous, since most thesauri and controlled vocabularies are digital today.

Attendees agreed that the primary concern of this new standard should be on interoperability or shareability to enable users (searchers, indexers, lexicographers) to cross boundaries from one thesaurus or vocabulary to another. To accomplish this goal, a standard interchange format would be required to support displays at a variety of levels. The consensus was that displays should be left to vendor participation, with the intent of accommodating the needs of many users and uses.

The workshop participants recommended that the new standard focus on concepts, terms, and relationships. On relationships, the consensus was that more than one schema may be needed; there may need to be schemata for hierarchical and non-hierarchical vocabularies. Further, there appeared to be support for an open registry of relationship types.

The attendees also recognized that different domains require different relationship lists and the standard needs to accommodate these differences. …

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