Practical Ontologies for Information Professionals

Aug 2016 | 224pp

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Practical Ontologies for Information Professionals

David Stuart

Practical Ontologies for Information Professionals provides an accessible introduction and exploration of ontologies and demonstrates their value to information professionals.

More data and information is being created than ever before. Ontologies, formal representations of knowledge with rich semantic relationships, have become increasingly important in the context of today’s information overload and data deluge. The publishing and sharing of explicit explanations for a wide variety of concepts, in a machine readable format, has the power to both improve information retrieval and discover new knowledge. Information professionals are key contributors to the development of new, and increasingly useful, ontologies.

Practical Ontologies for Information Professionals provides an accessible introduction to the following:

  • defining the concept of ontologies and why they are increasingly important to information professionals
  • ontologies and the semantic web
  • existing ontologies, such as RDF, RDFS, SKOS, and OWL2
  • adopting and building ontologies, showing how to avoid repetition of work and how to build a simple ontology
  • interrogating ontologies for reuse
  • the future of ontologies and the role of the information professional in their development and use.

Readership: This book will be essential reading for information professionals in libraries and other cultural heritage institutions who work with digitization projects, cataloguing and classification and information retrieval. It will also be useful to LIS students who are new to the field. 

1. What is an ontology? 

  • Introduction 
  • The data deluge and information overload 
  • Defining terms 
  • Knowledge organization systems and ontologies 
  • Ontologies, metadata and linked data 
  • What can an ontology do? 
  • Ontologies and information professionals 
  • Alternatives to ontologies 
  • The aims of this book 
  • The structure of this book 

2. Ontologies and the semantic web 

  • Introduction 
  • The semantic web and linked data 
  • Resource description framework (RDF)
  • Classes, subclasses and properties 
  • The semantic web stack 
  • Embedded RDF 
  • Alternative semantic visions 
  • Libraries and the semantic web 
  • Other cultural heritage institutions and the semantic web 
  • Other organizations and the semantic web 
  • Conclusion 

3. Existing ontologies 

  • Introduction 
  • Ontology documentation 
  • Ontologies for representing ontologies 
  • Ontologies for libraries 
  • Upper ontologies 
  • Basic formal ontology 
  • Cultural heritage data models 
  • Ontologies for the web
  • Conclusion 

4. Adopting ontologies 

  • Introduction 
  • Reusing ontologies: application profiles and data models 
  • Identifying ontologies 
  • The ideal ontology discovery tool 
  • Selection criteria 
  • Conclusion 

5. Building ontologies 

  • Introduction 
  • Approaches to building an ontology 
  • The twelve steps 
  • Ontology development example: Bibliometric Metrics Ontology element set 
  • Conclusion 

6. Interrogating ontologies 

  • Introduction 
  • Interrogating ontologies for reuse 
  • Interrogating a knowledge base 
  • Understanding ontology use 
  • Conclusion 

7. The future of ontologies and the information professional 

  • Introduction 
  • The future of ontologies for knowledge discovery 
  • The future role of library and information professionals 
  • The practical development of ontologies 
  • Conclusion 



' ... an impressive and comprehensive study. Of special note are the chapters on 'Ontologies and Information Professions'; 'Alternative Semantic Visions'; and 'Ontological Documentation'. Impressively well written, organized, and presented, Practical Ontologies for Information Professionals will prove to be an enduringly valued and appreciated addition to professional, community, and academic library Information Science reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.'
- Midwest Book Review, Reviewer's Bookwatch

'Practical Ontologies for Information Professionals offers insight into the evolution of classification of digital data and knowledge. This book will be useful to archivists, domain experts, LIS students, and library and information professionals. Recommended.'

'The generous provision of definitions, insights on the development of contemporary tools, and identification of theoretical concerns provide a sound introduction ... This guide has potential as an textbook for those focusing on library information systems careers.'
- Betty J. Glass, University of Nevada Library, Library Journal​

'As a relative novice, I was still able to come away from this book with a good idea of how exactly the linked data models are made manifest. I would recommend this book for experienced information professionals interested in concrete examples of an often nebulous subject.'
- Eric Brownell, Technical Services Quarterly

'Stuart’s writing style is clear and straightforward, and his occasional subtle humor helps to make a potentially dry topic less tedious. Practical Ontologies for Information Professionals is strongly recommended for all librarians who work with linked data or are thinking about it, and would be useful to have on hand as a resource in metadata departments.'
- Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Metadata and Emerging Technologies Librarian, University of Minnesota Libraries, Cataloging & Classification Quarterly


David Stuart is an independent information professional and an honorary research fellow at the University of Wolverhampton, and was previously a research fellow at King's College London and the University of Wolverhampton. He regularly publishes in peer-reviewed academic journals and professional journals on information science, metrics, and semantic web technologies, and in 2015 began writing a regular column for the journal Online Information Review called 'Taming Metrics'. He has previously published Web Metrics for Library and Information Professionals (Facet Publishing, 2014) and Facilitating Access to the Web of Data (Facet Publishing, 2011).


There are three main aims for this book. The first is to demonstrate to the information professional the importance of ontologies for knowledge discovery. The second is to demonstrate the important contribution information professionals can make to the development of ontologies. Finally, the book aims to provide a practical introduction to the development of ontologies for information professionals. This introductory chapter will, hopefully, already have gone some way to demonstrating the importance of the development of robust and widely used ontologies in the fight against information overload, and the role of the information professional in the process. These ideas will continue to be developed and reinforced throughout the rest of the book.


Chapter 2 – Ontologies and the semantic web

Ontologies have gained added significance in recent years through the adoption of an increasingly semantic web. Chapter 2 provides an introduction to the semantic web and the role of ontologies, and how ontologies have been increasingly adopted in a wide variety of libraries as well as other cultural heritage institutions and commercial organizations.


Chapter 3 – Existing ontologies

There is a wide variety of ontologies that have been developed, and knowledge of the dominant ontologies, their applications and their differences is increasingly essential to the information professional. Chapter 3 considers some of the main ontologies, including those ontologies used for representing ontologies, those widely adopted by libraries and those widely used on the web.


Chapter 4 – Adopting ontologies

The reuse of existing ontologies is important for both the integration of data across different systems and to avoid the repetition of work. Chapter 4 considers the tools that are available for identifying existing ontologies, how the ontologies (or elements thereof) can be combined in the creation of application profiles, and some of the criteria that should be considered when selecting ontologies.


Chapter 5 – Building ontologies

It is increasingly important that information professionals are not only users of existing ontologies, but that they build their own ontology for particular applications. Chapter 5 provides both a methodology for building an ontology and an overview of some of the tools that are available, before leading the reader through the development of a simple ontology with Protégé, the most popular (and free) software for ontology development.


Chapter 6 – Interrogating ontologies

Ontologies are not only of interest for the structure they provide, but also for the data that they contain. Chapter 6 provides an overview of tools available for interrogating semantic web ontologies, both through Simple Protocol and RDF Query Language(SPARQL)and web crawlers, to gain new insights.


Chapter 7 – The future of ontologies and the information professional

The final chapter looks to the future of ontologies and the role of the information professional in their development and use. The future of ontologies will undoubtedly be a mixture of lightweight and more formal ontologies, and their development is likely to be integrated with other technologies such as Natural Language Processing and potentially crowdsourcing workflows. The contribution for the library and information professional to ontology development also has the potential to change, expanding from the bibliographic ontologies that will undoubtedly occupy them in the short term to the development of niche subject specific ontologies in the long term.

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