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Topic maps and the ILS: an undelivered promise

Edward Iglesias (Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, Connecticut, USA)
Suellen Stringer Hye (Vanderbilt University Library, Nashville, Tennessee, USA)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 7 March 2008




The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the current use of topic maps in the library field, how they might be integrated into the ILS structure and some of the inherent challenges in trying to transform MARC data.


A review of available literature was conducted as well as e‐mail interviews with researchers and vendors in the field. An introduction to some of the basic concepts quickly leads into a recap of some of the possibilities that have been tried with this technology in the library field. Specific examples of the use of the XML standard XTM are given as well as some theoretical possibilities discussed. Finally some thought is given to where this technology will fit into the ILS.


The paper finds that more work needs to be done by vendors and libraries in structuring data to allow for easier transformation.

Research limitations/implications

This study was a limited overview. The lack of training materials and software make topics maps have an unnecessarily high barrier to entry.

Practical implications

This paper points a way for further research and a need for basic tools and training geared towards the library community.


This paper attempts to address some of the potential and challenges associated with using topic maps in a library environment, especially as part of an ILS.



Iglesias, E. and Stringer Hye, S. (2008), "Topic maps and the ILS: an undelivered promise", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 12-18.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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