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open archives forum

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Archive -- "Archive" in the Open Archive Initiative sense is synonymous with a repository of scholarly papers (reflecting the origins of the OAI); and, more broadly, a repository of stored information. Outside the OAI, archivists have stricter definitions of what an archive is, these definitions include notions of long-term preservation, institutional policy, and document appraisal. See the OAI FAQ: 'What do you mean by an "Archive?" See also "Open Archive" in this glossary.


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Data Provider -- A Data Provider's web server supports the OAI Protocol as a means of exposing metadata about its content (see Service Provider)

DC / Dublin Core -- a standard metadata format for web documents (with 15 core fields).


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Interoperability -- interoperability issues are those revolving around the implementation of common standards and the machine readability of data (resulting in data interoperability)


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Metadata -- in essence, 'data about data'. Descriptive information about resources.

Metadata Harvesting -- the collection of metadata into a single repository (see repository) from distributed data providers.


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OAI / Open Archives Initiative -- A particular initiative to make information about electronic resources widely available, using the OAI protocol (see Open Archive and OAI protocol for Metadata Harvesting). The Initiative website is at http://www.openarchives.org/

OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting -- The protocol defines a mechanism for harvesting records containing metadata from repositories. The link between this metadata and the related content is not defined by the OAI protocol.

OAI and the OAIS differentiated -- The OAIS stands for the 'Open Archival Information System'. This is a reference model and conceptual framework for an archival system dedicated to preserving and maintaining access to digital information over the long term. Brian Lavoie of OCLC defines its purpose as: "to increase awareness and understanding of concepts relevant for archiving digital objects, especially among nonarchival institutions; elucidate terminology and concepts for describing and comparing data models and archival architectures; expand consensus on the elements and processes endemic to digital information preservation and access; and create a framework to guide the identification and development of standards." [Meeting the challenges of digital preservation: the OAIS reference model, originally published in the OCLC Newsletter, No. 243: 26-30 (January/February 2000)].

Thus the aim of the OAIS is quite different from that of the Open Archives Initiative. The OAIS also uses the term "Archive" in a quite different sense, more in line with that used by the archiving profession, where it has connotations of long term preservation. See "Archive" in this glossary.

Open Archive -- an 'open archive' is one for which metadata is publicly available (i.e., 'exposed') to researchers via a service provider. The 'open' part of this technical term refers to the architectural aspect of the open archives idea - the definition and promotion of machine interfaces which facilitate the availability of content from a variety of providers. 'Open' does not mean 'free' or available for unlimited use. 'Archive' reflects the origins of the OAI - in the E-prints community the term 'archive generally means 'a repository of scholarly papers' - but the OAI uses the term in a broader sense as a repository for stored information.


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Record (OAI sense) -- an XML encoded byte stream returned by a repository in response to an OAI protocol request for metadata from an item in that repository.

Repository (OAI sense) -- refers to a web server (maintaining a collection of metadata about resources) which supports the OAI protocol. It is a network-accessible server to which OAI protocol requests, embedded in HTTP, can be submitted.


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Service Provider (OAI sense) -- a service provider makes harvested metadata available. The service provider issues OAI protocol requests to data providers, and the resulting metadata repository is the basis for building value-added services (see Data Provider).



The Open Archives Forum (OAF) is an IST– Accompanying Measures project (IST- 2001-320015).
The partners of OAF are: University of Bath-UKOLN (United Kingdom), Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie della Informazione-CNR (Italy) and Computer- and Media Service (Computing Center) of Humboldt University (Germany).

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