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[Fwd: FYI: Open Archive Initiative]

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Howard Flack        http://www.unige.ch/crystal/ahdf/Howard.Flack.html
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Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2001 08:46:05 -0500 (EST)
From: Gail Hodge <Gailhodge@AOL.COM>
Subject: FYI:  Open Archive Initiative
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Dear ICSTI Members,

Several members have received announcements about the Open Archive Initiative
(OAI) meetings and asked me if OAI has anything to do with the Open Archival
Information System Reference Model that ICSTI reviewed last year, or with
digital archiving in general.

Therefore, I've done some investigation and here is a brief update on what
OAI is.  I am going to the Washington DC meeting next month and will then
give you more details about the status and the standards they are promoting.
Even though, as you will see, this doesn't have anything to do with long-term
preservation and archiving, it should be of interest to the ICSTI community,
since many of these archives are in the sciences, and often outside the
mainstream publishing and secondary service community.

The Open Archives Initiative (www.openarchives.org) - Searching Across
e-Print Services

The Open Archives Initiative (OAi) was begun in October 1999 to develop
interoperability standards that would promote access to material in the
growing number of electronic preprint (e-print) archives (i.e., collections
of electronic journals and preprints) on the Web.   ("Archive" here is used
to indicate a collection, without necessarily any responsibility for
long-term preservation and access.) Specific technical mechanisms and
institutional structures are being developed to support the interoperability
of these archives in order to achieve this goal.  Standards that are being
developed are independent of the type of content and will provide access to a
wide range of digital materials.

The Open Archives Standard
Three guidelines for the OAI architecture were established at the Santa Fe
Convention (the site of the first OAI meeting).  The first guideline requires
the definition of a set of metadata elements, the Open Archives Metadata Set
(OAMS).  The purpose of this metadata is to enable document discovery across
archives, at least at a coarse level. The second is an agreement to use XML
as the standard syntax for representing and transferring the metadata sets.
The third is the definition of a common protocol called the Dienst subset,
which allows for the extraction of OAMS from participating archives.

The guidelines agreed upon in Santa Fe have been tested over the last year
and are being revised.  Users are currently advised not to implement current
Santa Fe conventions without first contacting openarchives@openarchives.org.

Upcoming Meetings
Two upcoming meetings are scheduled.  The first will be held on January 23,
2001 in Washington, D.C.  The second will be held during the first quarter in
Berlin.  The goal is to present the specifications of the revised
interoperability architecture to a broader community.  There will be an
overview of the Open Archives Initiative and a detailed presentation of the
architecture based on metadata harvesting.

Who is Involved
In August of 2000, the OAI steering committee was selected and includes the
following members:
 Caroline Arms (Library of Congress)
 Lorcan Dempsey (Joint Information Systems Committee, UK)
 Dale Flecker (Harvard University)
 Ed Fox (Virginia Tech)
 Paul Ginsparg (Los Alamos National Laboratory)
 Daniel Greenstein (DLF)
 Carl Lagoze (Cornell University)
 Clifford Lynch (CNI)
 John Ober (California Digital Library)
 Diann Rusch-Feja (Max Planck Institute for Human Development)
 Herbert van de Sompel (Cornell University)
 Don Waters (The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation)
The Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) and the Digital Library
Federation (DLF) are providing resources for the OAI.
Alternative Method
Access across e-print archives is in response to the problems of searching
the "deep Web"(white paper from BrightPlanet.com -
http://completeplanet.com/Tutorials/DeepWeb/index.asp), i.e., material that
is contained in databases, spreadsheets, and other applications that cannot
be indexed at the item level by current Web search engines that deal
primarily with HTML pages.

An alternative to the metadata harvesting being promoted by the OAI is the
development of search engines that broadcast specialized searches to
multiple, targeted databases when the user inputs a search.  For example,
DOE's PrePRINT Network (www.osti.gov/preprint), and its broader EnergyPortal
(http://www/osti.gov/energyportal) uses software called Distributed Explorer,
which takes a search statement as input, "recasts" the search based on rules
and submits it as if it were being entered on the search form of the target
system.  Similar techniques are used by Broadsword which is in use by the
U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, and has been tested by several members of
The aim of this approach is to avoid change on the part of the target system,
while the OAI requires certain minimum standards to be met.  Neither approach
is expected to be able to take full advantage of the functionality provided
by the native searching of the target database systems, but they do provide
consistency across heterogeneous database structures and search systems.


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