Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto - OCS, 15th INTERNATIONAL ISKO CONFERENCE

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Carlos Henrique Marcondes

Last modified: 2017-12-18


Problem: This paper reports new results of a research that was first communicated in the 14th International ISKO Conference 2016. Cultural Heritage institutions as archives, libraries and museums have the mission of curators and safeguard of the memory of societies. The patrimonialization and curatorial processes developed by such institutions is a continuous value-adding process resulting in cultural heritage objects that constitute different archives and collections. Such institutions are beginning to publish their collections as digital objects over the Web. Despite the advances of Web catalogues archives, libraries and museums collections are still dependent of catalogue systems and technologies which not allow fully integration with other resources available throughout the Web. The representation and publication of cultural heritage objects as digital objects using the facilities offered by LOD technologies is a whole new step in this patrimonialization and curatorial process. LOD technologies enable direct publishing of digital collections and thus their integration to the mainstream of the Web.  Many of these collections are thematically superimposed and complementary, having synergies that have not yet being explored by cultural curators. Now these technological facilities enable such synergies and complementarities to be empowered for the benefit of heritage institutions, culture and education. Frequently these collections present culturally relevant relationships between their objects, like a book about a painting, a draft or sketch of a famous painting, a letter from and author commenting a book or an artwork, a contract to commission a sculpture or artwork, etc. What culturally relevant relationships may exist between digital objects of collections in archives, libraries and museums? How to discover and identify such relationships? How to use LOD technologies to implement such relationships? How such relationships could be useful for art, history or culture curators and educators?


Objectives: This paper aims at discuss and characterize such cultural relevant relationships, compile an inventory of such relationships, organize them in a vocabulary and discuss how semantic links expressing them should be derived from the databases of catalogue systems, the current technology used by such institutions to provide access to their holdings. The implementation of semantic links using LOD technologies can achieve interoperability between digital collections. It aims also to improve the usability of digital collections in archives, libraries and museums thus empowering heritage institutions.


Methods: Relationship Classification schemas are usual in Knowledge Organization; theoretical bases are examined to evaluate previously proposed relationship classification schemas.  Bibliographic and documental sources were sought about the patrimonialization and curatorial processes developed by heritage institutions such as archives, libraries and museums, for definitions of archives, collections, items, records and cultural heritage objects; these sources were object of ontological analysis of their nature and the social value added processes they are inserted in to precisely characterize the properties for of digital objects that represent cultural heritage objects in archives, libraries and museums. An inventory of culturally relevant relationships is being compiled from the literature on culture and art and from cases suggested by users – curators of archives, libraries and museums collections. Conceptual models as the FRBR, the CIDOC CRM, the EDM, the Ric-CM were also examined as sources of possible relationships between objects. The relationship schema between entities of Groups 1, 2 and 3 of the FRBR model was used as a starting point for the classification and organization of the cultural relevant relationships collected.


Main results: A definition of culturally relevant relationships is proposed and discussed. From the analysis of entities as bibliographic items, museum objects and records in archives and collections, a characterization of digital heritage objects - DHO - is proposed; these are the objects that are to be interlinked by culturally relevant relationships. A first division of the culturally relevant relationships found is between DHO-DHO (a painting related to a book, a drawing that is a sketch of an artwork); another division is between DHO-other entities relationships (a book related to its author or to a theme). A further subdivision of these other entities in Agents, Themes, Events, Time and Places and relationships between DHO and such entities are also proposed. Culturally relevant relationships compiled are organized in an initial, not exhaustive, vocabulary. Rules specifying how to derive conceptual links connecting records in a catalogue to records in another one are also proposed.


Conclusions: Many database fields in catalogue systems of archives, libraries and museums are in dead relationships, as Authoring, Subject - Personal Name, Subject - Corporate Name, Subject - Uniform Title, Subject - Named Event, Subject - Chronological Term, Subject - Geographic Name, etc. These fields are potential sources for web links. A web link is directed from one resource to other. Within the context of distributed digital collections of archives, libraries and museums, the creation of a web link from one object in a collection to other object in a different collection does not guarantee the creation of a reversed link. The creation of reciprocal web links between digital collections deserves agreements and commitments between the institutions involved, a new way of cooperation and curation of digital collections. Heritage institutions have to curate and promote the creation of reciprocal links between their collections. A practical implantation of the proposal delineated herein should be a triplet repository served by SPARQL. The availability of cultural relevant links between heritage institutions collections in such a repository enable curators in specific domains as Art, Culture, Literature, History, Journalism, Education, Scientific Divulgation, etc., to create new, unique, curated, digital resources, as virtual exhibitions or virtual classrooms.