Using Topic Maps to Create a Sophisticated Digital Library
The implicit connections and cross-references between books, which occur in all print collections, can be made explicit in a collection of electronic texts. Correctly encoded and exposed they create a framework to support resource discovery and navigation both within and between texts by following links between topics. Using this approach the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (NZETC) has developed a delivery system for its growing online digital library using the CIDOC CRM and ISO Topic Map technology. Like a simple back-of-book index or a library classification system, a topic map aggregates information to provide binding points from which everything that is known about a given subject can be reached. Topics in the NZETC digital library represent authors and publishers, texts, and images, as well as people and places mentioned or depicted in those texts and images. Importantly, the Topic Map extends beyond the NZETC collection to incorporate relevant external resources which expose structured metadata about their collection. Innovative entity authority records management enables, for example, the topic page for William Colenso to automatically provide access not only to the full text of his works in the NZETC collection but out to another book-length work in the Auckland University’s “Early NZ Books Collection” and to several essays in the National Library’s archive of the Royal Society Journals. The NZETC system is based on international standards for the representation and interchange of knowledge including TEI XML, XTM, XSL and the CIDOC CRM. The NZETC collection currently includes over 2000 texts covering 110,000 topics.
Keywords: Digital Library
Director, New Zealand Electronic Text Centre
Alison is a member of the Victoria University Library Executive with particular responsibility for Technology Strategy, and a board member for both the New Zealand Humanities Research Network and the New Zealand National Digital Forum