Interfaces to knowledge organization systems in Canadian digital library collections

Ali Shiri (School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Keri Molberg (School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Publication date: 1 December 2005



The purpose of this paper is to report an investigation into the ways in which Canadian digital library collections have incorporated knowledge organization systems into their search interfaces.


A combination of data‐gathering techniques was used. These were as follows: a review of the literature related to the application of knowledge organization systems, deep scanning of Canadian governmental and academic institutions web sites on the web, identify and contact researchers in the area of knowledge organization, and identify and contact people in the governmental organizations who are involved in knowledge organization and information management.


A total of 33 digital collections were identified that have made use of some type of knowledge organization system. Thesauri, subject heading lists and classification schemes were the widely used knowledge organization systems in the surveyed Canadian digital library collections.

Research limitations/implications

The target population for this research was limited to governmental and academic digital library collections.

Practical implications

An evaluation of the knowledge organization systems interfaces showed that searching, browsing and navigation facilities as well as bilingual features call for improvements.


This research contributes to the following areas: digital libraries, knowledge organization systems and services and search interface design.



Shiri, A. and Molberg, K. (2005), "Interfaces to knowledge organization systems in Canadian digital library collections", Online Information Review, Vol. 29 No. 6, pp. 604-620.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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