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A Globally Interoperable Scottish Subject Landscape?. HILT, SPEIR and a Scottish Terminologies Server CIGS Scottish Terminologies Day, September 2004. Dennis Nicholson: Centre for Digital Library Research. Overview. HILT: Scope and Participants HILT I: Aims and Outcomes HILT II:

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A globally interoperable scottish subject landscape

A Globally Interoperable Scottish Subject Landscape?

HILT, SPEIR and a Scottish Terminologies Server

CIGS Scottish Terminologies Day, September 2004.

Dennis Nicholson:

Centre for Digital Library Research


  • HILT: Scope and Participants

  • HILT I: Aims and Outcomes

  • HILT II:

    • Aims, Overview of the Problem, Outcomes

    • Server Design Summary

      • Function; Elements; Coverage; Use

    • Other Points of Note; Costs; Alternatives

    • Evaluation, M2M reports

    • HILT futures; Pilot server demo

  • SPEIR; A Scottish Pilot

  • A Way Forward in Scotland

Scope and participants
SCOPE and Participants

  • JISC focus (funders); but problem tackled of global importance

  • Both HILT I and HILT II involved:

    • CDLR; mda; NCA; OCLC; UKOLN; RDN;JISC; FE Representative; NGfL Scotland; SLIC; SUfI; British Library, NLS, others world-wide via email

    • Terminology experts, Alan Gilchrist and Leonard Will (external evaluator)

Hilt 1 aims
HILT 1: Aims

  • Look into the problem of cross-searching and browsing by subject across UK services in Libraries, Museums, Archives, HE, FE, Public Libraries, electronic services, clumps projects, JISC IE services (RDN etc.)

  • Were they using different subject schemes, or the same schemes differently, and did it matter?

  • If it did, could a consensus be reached on a solution that was affordable, sustainable, implementable, politically acceptable, useful, future proofed, and the rest…

Hilt 1 conclusions
HILT 1: Conclusions

  • Many different subject schemes, practices in use

  • That cross searching by subject was considered of value to users and staff.

  • That an online service that would map subject schemes to user terminologies and to each other was the preferred solution (Workshop outcomes)

  • But that things like level and nature of user need, design requirements, and costs against benefits needed to be examined before we committed to a possibly expensive solution

  • Finally, there was a strong consensus favouring the creation of a pilot service and an investigation of these issues

Hilt phase ii aims
HILT Phase II: Aims

  • Build pilot terminologies service for JISC Information Environment, aiming to:

    • Provide a practical experimental focus within which to investigate and establish subject terminology service requirements for the JISC I.E

    • Make recommendations as regards a possible future service

Hilt ii the problem in outline
HILT II: The Problem in Outline

  • JISC services (and other services JISC users need to cross-search) have:

    • Different schemes in use

    • Different versions of the same scheme

    • Varied approaches to amending, extending

  • Schemes, variations vary in ability to reflect terminologies used by users when searching

  • Resources in distributed services, so users need to:

    • Identify services appropriate to their search

    • Identify relevant items by using correct term for scheme used

Hilt ii outcomes
HILT II: Outcomes

  • Recommended a follow-up development project to build a working terminologies server with specific features

  • Since consensus, collaboration seen as vital, recommended (1) A dialogue with key national and international players (2) A server design that assumed:

    • Mapping between schemes, rather than preference for a single scheme (HILT I)

    • The need for a facility to allow others to include their own (self-provisioned) mappings

    • The existence of other terminology servers

Server functions
Server Functions

  • Improve accurate, informed searching by users

  • Improve accurate, consistent description by staff

  • Harmonise staff amendments and extensions to schemes (UK Terms Registry)

  • Map between schemes, variations via DDC spine

  • Map user terms to DDC, collections, other schemes

  • Serve up mappings via various m2m and h2m routes

  • Ultimately: improve retrieval from legacy metadata

  • Monitor, learn from user terminology sets

Server elements
Server Elements

  • Wordmap; three elements:

    • Database (Oracle) of terminology mappings

    • User front end that interacts with database according to staff specifications and user input and feedback

    • Drag and drop, multi-user interface to support sophisticated staff interaction with database for creation and maintenance of maps, inter-service co-ordination and training

Server schemes
Server Schemes

  • Proposed Development Server:

    • DDC spine; captions; relative index; standard subdivisions

    • LCSH to DDC mapping

    • UNESCO to DDC mapping

    • UK terms registry (mapped to DDC)

    • Optional: MeSH, Regional registry, AAT

  • Pilot:

    • More limited – UNESCO, MeSH illustrative, no AAT, UK Terms

The server in action
The Server in Action

  • User enters subject term

  • Term matched to terminology set and mapped to DDC

  • Options returned; user ‘disambiguates’

  • DDC number truncated, mapped to collections database to identify appropriate collections

  • Info on scheme used; advice; sample retrieval

  • Demonstration available at: http://hiltpilot.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/pilot/top.php

  • Or http://hiltpilot.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/pilot/examples/

Other points costs
Other Points; Costs

  • More sophisticated user interface facilities needed

  • Further Research into user needs generally

  • Machine to Machine (M2M) Facilities and Interactivity Issues

  • No to ‘Limited granularity mapping’

  • Information Environment Services Registry (IESR) Issues

  • Costs over 5 years

Hilt ii evaluation
HILT II Evaluation

  • Evaluation report conclusions were that:

    • The general approach and proposals of the HILT project are reasonable and worth pursuing.

    • Some underlying problems in mapping of compound concepts need to be investigated further and solutions found before investing in major mapping or terminology service implementation work.

    • Finally, it must be recognised that any service of this kind will have to be sustainable in the long term, and that continuing work will be needed long into the future to maintain and develop it.

Hilt ii m2m

  • Special report on m2m; follow-up project should:

    • Provide m2m demonstrator services based on controlled vocabularies mapped within Wordmap (Develop SOAP based interfaces between JISC IE components and Wordmap).

    • Look into use of the Zthes protocol.

    • Track developments within the Semantic Web and activities within e-Science to ensure forward compatibility of syntax for structuring vocabularies, and data exchange protocols

Hilt futures
HILT Futures

  • Known futures:

    • M2M Feasibility Study

    • M2M Demonstrator

    • Then what?

  • Possible futures:

    • JISC and others finance ongoing work in a ‘global’ terminology mapping service

    • Limited implementations in domain-based environments

    • Do Nothing?

      • Leave it to others (OCLC? Google?)

      • Global; Will deteriorate until tackled


  • The Server in Action (2)

    • User enters subject term

    • Term matched to terminology set and mapped to DDC

    • Options returned; user ‘disambiguates’

    • DDC number truncated, mapped to collections database to identify appropriate collections

    • Info on scheme used; advice; sample retrieval

    • Demo: http://hiltpilot.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/pilot/top.php

Hilt offline demo
HILT Offline Demo

  • The slides you are about to see are screen shots

  • But the pilot works – try it and see

  • But use Internet Explorer and remember it is illustrative – you won’t be able to ‘break it’ but you have to use known examples to see it at its best…


  • Aliment

  • Loch

  • Bairn

  • Population

  • Leisure

  • Child Development

  • Opinion polls

  • Tooth

  • But try what you like – just don’t expect miracles

  • An amusing thing to try is the contraction for General Practitioner - GP


  • A Scottish Pilot

    • Adapted from HILT

    • Small selective mapping:

      • Aliment

      • Provost

      • Bairn etc

    • Ends with CAIRNS search

    • As with HILT, many issues

A way forward in scotland
A Way Forward in Scotland

  • Tidy up our own backyard (and keep it tidy!)

  • Assume HILT or similar will solve the global problem and base our tidy up on that (e.g. map to LCSH or DDC)

  • Maybe it will…

  • Even if it doesn’t, we’ll still have made things better here and have a sound basis in international ‘standards’

A way forward in scotland1
A Way Forward in Scotland

  • Where possible, adopt international ‘standards’ – probably LCSH

  • Only adapt or extend if essential

  • Try to get extensions adopted via SACO

  • Standardise other essential additions via a Scottish authority file

  • Map Scots and Gaelic terms to LCSH

  • Work within COSMIC’s SCI, maybe with a physical interoperability group, maybe with a virtual one, maybe both

A globally interoperable scottish subject landscape

The Scottish Cooperative Infrastructure

Coordination and Management:

To guide strategy, policy, planning, infrastructure

design & development, training, institutional

representation etc | Implemented via COSMIC

and existing or new groups.

Research & Development:

Technical and non-technical work to progress the

infrastructure in line with an agreed joint R&D

plan | Undertaken by participating groups or

institutions | Backed by COSMIC

Funding Processes:

To coordinate bids for existing funds and

influence future funded R&D programmes

Management and R&D of Online and Offline:

Local User


User services,


Independent portals

utilising mix

of local and central

services | Local

control of some

shared service

functions via staff portal | User needs


Shared Central



catalogue | Collection

and collection strengthdatabases | Portal

landscaper | Scottish

Distributed Digital

library| E-journals

service |Terminolo

gies server | ILL &

DD | Authentication



Advice and training on standards and their implementation | Inclusive seamlessaccess to global information services |

JISC & Resource IEcompatibility| Scottish

web presence



On collecting andcataloguing, onpurchase and storage,on digitisation andcourse development,on user & staff training,, onquality control,and so on



Current awareness and general supportservices for staffvia online facilities for professionals, emaillists, journals and e-journals, conferences and meetings, professional groups, staff collaborativecollecting portal

Feedback from Research & Practice


  • Don’t run before you can walk…

  • Don’t assume it’s easy…

  • Don’t duplicate effort…

  • Long term and slow is a possible alternative to expensive (if we’re careful)

  • Think globally before acting locally

  • Don’t forget the user!

Further information
Further Information

  • Websites:

    • http://hilt.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/

    • http://cosmic.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/

  • e-mail:

    • d.m.nicholson@strath.ac.uk

  • Demonstrators:

    • http://hiltpilot.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/pilot/top.php

    • OR http://hiltpilot.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/pilot/examples/