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Semantic heterogeneity: comparing new semantic web approaches with those of digital libraries

Jürgen Krause (GESIS‐IZ, Bonn and Computer Science Department, University of Koblenz‐Landau, North Rhine‐Westphalia, Germany)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 21 March 2008




To demonstrate that newer developments in the semantic web community, particularly those based on ontologies (simple knowledge organization system and others) mitigate common arguments from the digital library (DL) community against participation in the Semantic web.


The approach is a semantic web discussion focusing on the weak structure of the Web and the lack of consideration given to the semantic content during indexing.


The points criticised by the semantic web and ontology approaches are the same as those of the DL “Shell model approach” from the mid‐1990s, with emphasis on the centrality of its heterogeneity components (used, for example, in vascoda). The Shell model argument began with the “invisible web”, necessitating the restructuring of DL approaches. The conclusion is that both approaches fit well together and that the Shell model, with its semantic heterogeneity components, can be reformulated on the semantic web basis.

Practical implications

A reinterpretation of the DL approaches of semantic heterogeneity and adapting to standards and tools supported by the W3C should be the best solution. It is therefore recommended that – although most of the semantic web standards are not technologically refined for commercial applications at present – all individual DL developments should be checked for their adaptability to the W3C standards of the semantic web.


A unique conceptual analysis of the parallel developments emanating from the digital library and semantic web communities.



Krause, J. (2008), "Semantic heterogeneity: comparing new semantic web approaches with those of digital libraries", Library Review, Vol. 57 No. 3, pp. 235-248.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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