MCD Home

The Meaningful Concept Displays project is focused on investigating and evaluating ways to improve users’ experience with libraries and museums as searchers (search, both query formulation and result exploration; sensemaking; and learning) and as contributors (social tagging) through exploiting the intellectual capital present in many Knowledge Organization Systems (KOS) (controlled lists, thesauri, classifications, taxonomies, ontologies, …) and Linked Open Data.

This project aims to have a significant impact on users’ learning and mastering “21 century skills” through the following:

  • transforming the search experience and success of a wide range of users;
  • transforming the ease and quality of social tagging, increasing the benefits from the vast volunteer labor invested and possibly engaging even more people;
  • transforming learning: students’ individual or collaborative exploration, sensemaking, making connections, and active learning.

MCD architecture

A prototype Meaningful Concept Display for Search and Tagging appliance (illustrated above) will be developed which will sit between the user and a search engine (or social tagging site) and serve the following functions:
1a    Receive user queries and enhance them with or without user interaction (spelling correction, detecting phrases, synonym and hierarchic expansion, supplying Boolean structure to queries).
1b    Based on user queries or at the start of the search, produce concept displays that convey meaning (such as concept maps or hierarchic displays) to assist users in clarifying their information needs, leading to better queries. Users will be able to modify the display as they conceptualize their needs. The ability to draw KOS-linked concept maps can be used as a stand-alone function.
1c    Send the improved query to one or more search engines.
2    Receive search results and produce a meaningful arrangement to support exploration.
3    Support social tagging through functions such as spelling correction, disambiguation, suggesting additional tags or displaying the conceptual structure around a tag, providing a facet frame.
4    Support learning throughout.

Ultimately we envision a system that

  • will combine a built-in database of many KOS across many domains, linked through available mappings, with the ability to acquire needed KOS data on the fly from the Web, using KOS or termi- nology servers such as or or KOS registries such as TaxoBank ( or;
  • can access many search engines and tagging sites and interfaces with learning systems.

This project is supported by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.