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Project ISO 25964

Thesauri and Interoperability with other Vocabularies


This is an international standard development project of ISO Technical Committee 46 (Information and documentation) Subcommittee 9 (Identification and description). The assigned Working Group (WG8) will revise, merge, and extend two existing international standards:

  • ISO 2788 Guidelines for the establishment and development of monolingual thesauri
  • ISO 5964 Guidelines for the establishment and development of multilingual thesauri

These two intimately linked standards will be updated to reflect the needs of the 21st century, bearing in mind the demand for interoperability in a networked society. All of their existing scope will be retained and refreshed, and the following additional subjects will be added:

  • Guidance on electronic functions and displays
  • Functional specification for software to manage thesauri
  • Interoperability (mapping) between thesauri and other types of vocabulary
  • Data modeling and formats for exchange of thesaurus data


The work will be based on BS 8723 Structured vocabularies for Information Retrieval, a standard in five parts as follows:

  • Part 1: Definitions, symbols and abbreviations;
  • Part 2: Thesauri;
  • Part 3: Vocabularies other than thesauri;
  • Part 4: Interoperability between vocabularies;
  • Part 5: Exchange formats and protocols for interoperability

ISO 25964 will draw on BS 8723, but reorganize the content to fit into two-parts. Part 1 will cover all aspects of thesauri, monolingual and multilingual, including a data model and formats/protocols for data exchange. Part 2 will cover interoperability between thesauri and other vocabularies such as classification schemes, taxonomies and ontologies. It will provide guidance on mapping practice and architecture.

Working Group

A Working Group has been established, with members from 13 countries: Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK, Ukraine, and USA. The project is led by Stella Dextre Clarke of the UK.


Part 1 (Thesauri for information retrieval) was issued as a Draft International Standard (DIS) ballot beginning on 2009-October-26 and ending on 2010-03-26. A draft schema to accompany the standard and a test XML document using the schema are available for public review and comment.

Part 2 (Interoperability with other vocabularies) is in development. It is expected to be released for a Committee Draft ballot in the first quarter of 2010.