Personalised access to Cultural Heritage spaces


Developed during the PATHS project, the PATHS prototype is now available at:

In order to support the system the project has developed a range of enrichment techniques used to augment the digital library content with additional information to enhance the users’ browsing experience.

The logical data model is implemented as a combination of SQL and non-SQL databases and indexes combining the power of the PostgreSQL RDBMS with that of Apache Solr inverted index and Virtuoso RDF triple store. All relationships and references in the data model are implemented using persistent URIs as foreign keys. This allows for flexible integration between the three data stores.

The web service API is implemented on top of a wide range of server components and controls all data I/O operations towards the data layer. It consists of more than 30 different web methods grouped into seven Web Services. The Web Services communicate over the HttpGet, HttpPost, Soap and Soap 1.2 protocols. The default return format is JSON but the services are also capable of delivering XML.

The web application is implemented with a number of sophisticated end-user interfaces that rely and data received through Web Service requests for their operation. The application is user centric and emphasizes good interaction design as well as innovative modes of exploration. The prototype is designed to demonstrate the core functionality of the system and the potential of the navigation, information retrieval and content enrichment methodology proposed by the project.

Most of the enrichment techniques applied in the PATHS project were developed in-house and are relatively complex. An overall set of recommendations for the automatic enrichment of cultural heritage collections using open source software is presented in a project report available from the PATHS project web site: Agirre and Otegi (

The project has provided a prototype enrichment service as a web service which allows independent content providers to enrich their cultural heritage items online. Specifically, the service enriches the items with two types of information: links to similar items within the PATHS collection and links to Wikipedia articles which are related to it. The Web service is described by Agirre et. al. (E. Agirre, A. Barrena, K. Fernandez, E. Miranda, A. Otegi and A. Soroa. 2013. PATHSenrich: A Web Service Prototype for Automatic Cultural Heritage Item Enrichment. In TPDL 2013, Lecture Notes in Computer Science volume 8092, pages 462--465).

The PATHS prototype system is available for demonstrations and testing by end users, cultural institutions and others integrating the components summarised above. In developing the system prototype, our aim has been to demonstrate a collection discovery environment for users that combines search, narrative Pathway and visualisation techniques in an integrated system. PATHS offers two main ways into collections:

  • PATHS – enable users to follow Pathways (or narratives) published by users. Users can follow a Path from beginning to end or they can leave the path at any time by following recommendations and links. Users who are logged in to the system can save items to their workspace and then create, edit, publish and share Pathways.
  • EXPLORE - enables users to explore the collections using tools which are being designed to appeal to different user preferences. Exploration can be done using a Map, Thesaurus or tags.

It is also possible to SEARCH, and the system supports discovery of both collection items and Paths through keyword search based on the enriched metadata prepared by the project. The PATHS prototype incorporates data provided to the project for test purposes by Europeana. The Europeana demonstrator includes around 2 million content items from Spain and the UK.

Conditions of Use: 

The PATHS prototype is online:

More information about this project: Ms Kate Fernie at

Use Case: 

- Digital library applications.

- Cultural institutions seeking to improve user experience of search and discovery of their collections.

- Portals and aggregators such as Europeana. 

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