Cultural Heritage Collections: From Content Curation to Semantic Services and the Semantic Web

Muriel Foulonneau


The action of collecting intentionally resources for a specific purpose, to organize them for personal
use or for a particular audience, creates meaning. It has in itself a value which can be shared
and used, just like descriptions or annotations to enable retrieval and manipulation of resources.
All the actions of content creators, managers (e.g., librarians or museum curators) and users may
be thought of through the concept of collection. Content creators often create a set of resources.
Managers collect resources for a particular audience (e.g., the manuscripts of James Joyce or
a collection of resources to support researchers in high energy physics). Users collect resources
and organize them in their environment.
Nevertheless, resources are most often described at item level and more rarely at collection level.
The standards for the description of collections are not as stable and consistently used as standards
for item level descriptions. As a result, while the work around resources is conditioned and
driven by implicitly or explicitly created collections, those are often not represented in resource
management systems.
Recent advances in online services have emphasized interactions with users who can create their
own collections and share them in Web 2.0 applications. Semantic representations of resources
have also led to widening our conception of valuable resources because anything can be a resource
of equal importance, a picture, a book, a city, an idea, and therefore also a collection.
This article provides an overview of collection description practices, the integration of collections
in different services, the metadata models for collection level descriptions, and the representations
of collections on the Semantic Web.


culture heritage, semantic web, curation

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ISSN: 2083-0599 (online); 2082-6923 (print)