Knowledge & expertise

Common Thesaurus for Uniform Publication

September 2015 - April 2016

Between September 2015 and June 2016, a project relating to a common thesaurus was carried out by the Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision (Beeld & Geluid) and VIAA. The project was financed by the Dutch Language Union (Digital Heritage Committee) and was completed in cooperation with Spinque, VRT, Ghent University Data Science Lab and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The Common Thesaurus for Uniform Publication final report is now available through this page.

Both the Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision and VIAA manage a large audiovisual archive that is composed of various sources. This archive material is made accessible to various target groups, such as education and research. Publishing these very diverse collections in a uniform way is one of the biggest challenges for both institutions. 

A thesaurus is one of the tools that can help with this. The Unified Thesaurus feasibility study, performed on behalf of VIAA, has previously shown that linking is a more realistic option than building one ‘überthesaurus’. When existing local thesauri are linked with each other, there is an opportunity to search various collections in a uniform way, without needing to compromise on the specificity or niche nature of the thesaurus. The Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision already has extensive expertise in relation to the publication of the thesaurus (the Common Thesaurus for Audiovisual Archives) in the SKOS format as well as linking thesauri, in the CultuurLINK project, for example. With this project, we aim to illustrate that links between thesauri offer opportunities not only at a local level, but also at an international level.

Research was carried out into how the various thesauri (the VRT thesaurus and the Common Thesaurus for Audiovisual Archives) relate to each other and how they could be linked. Tools were also developed to convert the VRT thesaurus to SKOS and the software to detect links was developed further. With the help of the CultuurLINK tool, 21,640 links were made between the two thesauri.

To complete the project, a demonstrator was built, which illustrates how the collections can be searched based on a linked thesaurus. The demonstrator allows a user to search in two sub-locations (a selection of VRT and the OpenBeelden collection) and to explore the links between these two collections.

The screencast below gives a clear idea of the demonstrator that was built:

In collaboration with the Dutch Language Union and the Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision, and with the support of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the City of Ghent and Spinque.