Aucott, Paula J., von Lunen, Alexander and Southall, Humphrey (2009) Exposing the history of Europe: the creation of a structure to enable time‐spatial searching of historical resources within a European framework. OCLC Systems & Services: International digital library perspectives, 25 (4). pp. 270-286. ISSN 1065-075X

– The purpose of this paper is to describe the development of a knowledgebase supporting a prototype Europe‐wide time‐spatial search interface for historical resources. It discusses how this structure could be used to access other types of digital heritage content.

– By using a relational database with spatial capabilities, a multi‐lingual search structure has been created which supports a temporal map and a facetted browser, collaborative facilities and a heritage resource viewer, with links to online catalogues.

– Combining data from three states with very different histories identified the strengths and weaknesses of the approach. The framework's flexibility means it could easily be re‐purposed to support front ends to other types of cultural content.

Research limitations/implications
– Due to the variability in the administrative unit source data, its initial integration required significant manipulation to achieve consistency; however, the benefits of data assimilation ensure the base framework is as efficient as possible.

Practical implications
– Usage levels of on‐line cultural resources will be far higher if ordinary users can access them via access routes which have meaning for them, such as by locality/place. Ontology‐based geographical frameworks are much easier to search by place name than are conventional GIS systems, and vastly more accessible to search engines.

– This interface demonstrates the potential for integrating data from any number of different national organisations into a single user tool. It also highlights the potential for utilising the underlying structure in multiple contexts.

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