Untangle: A New Ontology for Card Catalog Systems

Christopher Welty and Jessica Jenkins, Vassar College

The ontology used by most card catalog and bibliographic systems is based on a now outdated assumption that users of the systems would be looking for books on shelves, and therefore only books were first-class objects, with people. organizations, etc. as simple attributes. This limited the ability of a user to browse. A new ontology for card catalog systems is proposed that suggests that persons, organizations, conferences, etc., should be first-class objects with attributes and relations of their own, creating a rich space of background information that helps users find what they are looking for. This new ontology has been implemented in a knowledge-based system called Untangle, which demonstrates two key advantages of this rich information space: it enables automatic augmentation of the data through reasoning, and it enables a new paradigm for search that combines querying and browsing.

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