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Developing the collection graph

Tobias Blanke (King's College London, London, UK)
Michael Bryant (King's College London, London, UK)
Reto Speck (King's College London, London, UK)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 16 November 2015




In 2010 the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) was funded to support research into the Holocaust. The project follows on from significant efforts in the past to develop and record the collections of the Holocaust in several national initiatives. The purpose of this paper is to introduce the efforts by EHRI to create a flexible research environment using graph databases. The authors concentrate on the added features and design decisions to enable efficient processing of collection information as a graph.


The paper concentrates on the specific customisations EHRI had to develop, as the graph database approach is new, and the authors could not rely on existing solutions. The authors describe the serialisations of collections in the graph to provide for efficient processing. Because the EHRI infrastructure is highly distributed, the authors also had to invest a lot of effort into reliable distributed access control mechanisms. Finally, the authors analyse the user-facing work on a portal and a virtual research environment (VRE) in order to discover, share and analyse Holocaust material.


Using the novel graph database approach, the authors first present how we can model collection information as graphs and why this is effective. Second, we show how we make collection information persistent and describe the complex access management system we have developed. Third, we outline how we integrate user interaction with the data through a VRE.


Scholars require specialised access to information. The authors present the results of the work to develop integrated research with collections on the Holocaust researchers and the proposals for a socio-technical ecosystem based on graph database technologies. The use of graph databases is new and the authors needed to work on several innovative customisations to make them work in the domain.



Blanke, T., Bryant, M. and Speck, R. (2015), "Developing the collection graph", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 610-623.



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