Standard Spotlight: From ISO 2788 to ISO 25964: The Evolution of Thesaurus Standards Towards Interoperability and Data Modeling

Publication Title

Information Standards Quarterly

Publication Date

Winter 2012

Document Type





standards, ISO 2788, ISO 25964, thesaurus, interoperability, data modeling


Library and Information Science


The information retrieval thesaurus emerged from pioneering work in the 1960s, and by 1974 the principles and practical guidance for constructing thesauri were enshrined in the international standard ISO 2788 as well as national standards such as ANSI/NISO Z39.19. Successive updates since then have led most recently to the publication of ISO 25964-1, Thesauri and interoperability with other vocabularies. Part 1: Thesauri for information retrieval. The authors review the reasons behind the development of thesauri; the dilemma that thesaurus standards have in differentiating between concepts and terms; the pressure for clarification through data models; the timeline of English thesaurus standards development; various national and international vocabulary standards development; the recently published Part 1 of the ISO 25964 standard, and further work underway including Part 2 of the ISO 25964 standard.