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Report Explores Use of Knowledge Organization Systems in Digital Libraries

CLIR Press Release


For Immediate Release April 18, 2000

Contact: Dan Greenstein 202-939-4762

Report Explores Use of Knowledge Organization Systems
in Digital Libraries

WASHINGTON, D.C.—A new report from the Digital Library Federation (DLF) examines the
use of knowledge organization systems—schemes for organizing information and
facilitating knowledge management—in a digital environment. Systems of Knowledge Organization
for Digital Libraries: Beyond Traditional Authority
, by Gail Hodge, is the DLF’s fourth
published report.

Knowledge organization systems serve as bridges between a user’s information needs and
the material in a collection. Examples of such systems include term lists, such as
dictionaries; classification schemes, such as Library of Congress Subject Headings; and relationship
lists, such as thesauri. These and other types of knowledge organization systems, which vary
in complexity, structure, and function, can improve the organization of digital libraries
and facilitate access to their content.

The report provides examples of how knowledge organization systems can be used to
enhance digital libraries in a variety of disciplines. For example, they can be used to link a
digital resource to related material. They can be used directly or indirectly to provide
more descriptive records for entities in the digital resource. Finally, they can provide access not
only to a descriptive record, but also to location information about a relevant physical object.

The author also discusses how knowledge organization systems can be used to
provide disparate communities with access to digital library resources. They can provide
alternate subject or multilingual access, support free-text searching, or add a new mode of access— such as visual or geographic—to the digital library.

The report concludes with a discussion of what to consider when using knowledge organization systems with digital libraries. It provides a framework for the design, planning, implementation, and maintenance of these systems in digital library environments.

Systems of Knowledge Organization for Digital Libraries is available electronically at Print copies may be ordered for $15, prepaid, from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). Checks should be made payable to CLIR and mailed to CLIR Publication Orders, 1755 Massachusetts Avenue, NW,
Suite 500, Washington, D.C., 20036-2124. Credit card orders may be placed by calling CLIR at 202-939-4750, sending a fax to 202-939-4765, or sending e-mail to

The Digital Library Federation is a partnership of research libraries dedicated to creating,
maintaining, expanding, and preserving a distributed collection of digital materials accessible to scholars and to a wider public. It operates under the umbrella of CLIR, which works in partnership with libraries, archives, and other information providers to advocate collaborative approaches to preserving the nation’s intellectual heritage and strengthening the many components of its information system.

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