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Thomas Stäcker
Head, Rare Books and Digitization Herzog August Bibliothek,
The Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) provides an
application-independent interoperability framework based on metadata harvesting and has
by now become a widely established standard for the exchange of metadata.The mandatory
metadata set of OAI is Dublin Core, but OAI also supports other formats, because, as it is
recognized in the OAI core document, each community is interested in using specific sets
and formats that suit their needs and the types of data they handle.The paper will attempt to
show how OAI works on the technical level and how it is suited to transport metadata on
emblems. In addition, it will discuss the question of Emblem metadata exchange against the
background of building up joint databases and the problems that may occur by establishing a
general data format for different types of Emblems.
Open Archives Initatives (OAI), standardization of emblem metadata.
he Open Archives Initiative (OAI) standard became a buzz word in recent years in var-
ious research areas. Despite its popularity it is not well known what this standard exact-
ly stands for, particularly in the field of humanities, and which goals it serves. In
recommending OAI as a standard for emblems one, therefore, runs the risk of assuming that we
have reached a general solution for all standardization and exchange problems that possibly may
occur, which simply is not the case. Thus, I will briefly explain what OAI is about, what it is
intended to achieve, and which particular conditions must be fulfilled to apply OAI successfully
for the exchange of emblem metadata.The second, larger part of this paper attempts to outline a
possible OAI metadata set, which can also be considered a general description format for emblems
and therefore goes beyond the scope of the OAI topic.
Wh a t i s OA I ?
OAI stands for Open Archives Initiative. It must be emphasized that OAI is a formal standard.
Except for Dublin Core (DC), which plays a constitutive role in OAI - see more about that
schema below - it does not tell us anything about the content it conveys. No information is given
about emblems, mottos, picturae, or subscriptiones.Thus, the question must be posed how it then
can be used for emblem research and exchange of relevant metadata. A look at the OAI home-
page helps to answer this question.
There it is said that OAI "provides an application-independ-
ent interoperability framework based on metadata harvesting," which means that OAI constitutes
a standard that is suitable for the exchange of metadata via the Internet, no matter which appli-
cation is used for that purpose. Nothing is said about the kind of metadata which is communi-
cated. On the contrary, OAI encourages communities to draw up and establish specific standards,
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