Thesauri and ontologies in digital libraries: Structure and use in knowledge-based assistance to users

Dagobert Soergel


The tutorial provides a bridge by presenting methods of subject access as treated in an information studies program for those coming to digital libraries from other fields. It will elucidate through examples the conceptual and vocabulary problems users face when searching digital libraries. It will then show how a well-structured thesaurus / ontology can be used as the knowledge base for an interface that can assist users with search topic clarification (for example through browsing well-structured hierarchies and guided facet analysis) and with finding good search terms (through query term mapping and query term expansion — synonyms and hierarchic inclusion). It will touch on cross-database and cross-language searching as natural extensions of these functions. It will also mention the use of more richly structured ontologies, including Semantic Web applications. The tutorial will cover the thesaurus structure needed to support these functions: Concept-term relationships for vocabulary control and synonym expansion, conceptual structure (semantic analysis, facets, and hierarchy) for topic clarification and hierarchic query term expansion). It will introduce a few sample thesauri and ontologies and some thesaurus-supported digital libraries and Web sites to illustrate these principles.


Dagobert Soergel, College of Information Studies, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
Office:(301) 405-2037 Fax (301) 314-9145 Cell 703-585-2840