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The Application
Service Model
The librarian learns that a consortium of five libraries in a neighbouring local authority
is planning to carry out investigation into the design, implementation and deployment of
a pilot service for wider access to autonomously created institutional resources in their
local area.The venture's ultimate aim is an investigation into the plausibility of a nation-
wide author-deposit repository and portal, and in particular the technical and operational
demands that such a project would place on participating organisations.The librarian asks
to be kept informed about their progress, with a view to expanding the consortium to
include the seven libraries in her own local area.
Unfortunately, the neighbouring authority's libraries use a different library management
system, and compatibility appears to be a problem.Together the librarians consult staff at
larger libraries, and seek advice on the best way to proceed.They learn that interoper-
ability will be a key factor in any future success, and that the creation of metadata must
be uniform/compatible across the board if the venture is to succeed.The records that are
deposited must be of a verifiably high standard, and sustained and preserved in a similar
way.The co-operation and collaboration between content providers and technology
vendors/experts will be of key importance here as the libraries work together to make
their metadata available for examination by remotely sited users.
An umbrella organisation called the Open Archives Initiative (OAI)
provides a
wide range of helpful documents and advice for ensuring digital libraries/repositories
maintain compatibility for cross-platform searching and the harvesting of metadata.The
OAI differentiates between the two types of provision as follows:
- Data Providers administer systems that support the OAI-PMH as a means of
exposing metadata; and
- Service Providers use metadata harvested via the OAI-PMH as a basis for building
value-added services.
The University of Michigan
's OAIster
metadata harvester provides a link between
the two, its mission is `to create a collection of freely available, difficult-to-access, academ-
ically oriented digital resources...that are easily searchable by anyone.' On 1 August 2003,
OAIster held references to 1,484,767 records from 195 institutions, although this is
expected to have doubled by the time of going to press.
Our librarian brings what she has learned to the table, and together the libraries of both
local authorities embark on a journey towards closer compatibility and interoperability, in
the hope that their work will initiate a domino-type effect towards a nation-wide digital
library strategy for smaller-scale institutions.
31 (Note: the PMH part of the acronym
simply stands for `Protocol for Metadata Harvesting'.)
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