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Project Team

Digital Library Federation

David Seaman,
Project Director/
Principal Investigator

Barrie Howard,
Project Manager

Martha Brogan,

Emory University

Martin Halbert,
Co-Principal Investigator

Elizabeth Milewicz,
Technical Writer

University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign

Tom Habing,
Co-Principal Investigator

Xuan Xie,
Graduate Assistant

University of Michigan

Perry Willet,
Co-Principal Investigator

Kat Hagedorn,
Technical Manager



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The Distributed Library:
OAI for Digital Library Aggregation

IMLS 2004 National Leadership Grant for Libraries
Research and Demonstration

New: view the presentations and documents from the DLF OAI Implementers' Workshop held on August 25, 2006, at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California

New: read the findings from our OAI Advisors' Meeting, May 23, 2006 [PDF | HTML]

June 2006: the DLF Collections Registry, which describes the collections (759 publicly accessible digital collections) that include many items found via the DLF OAI Portal (see below), available from http://gita.grainger.uiuc.edu/dlfcollectionsregistry/browse/
May 2006: the Best Practices for OAI Data Provider Implementations and Shareable Metadata, co-developed with NSDL, is undergoing its final revision and will be published online and in print this fall, available from http://oai-best.comm.nsdl.org/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?TableOfContents
December 2005: read the OAI Repository Cataloging Procedures and Guidelines, developed at the University of Illinois, it is a guide to writing collection-level descriptions for OAI repositories using Library of Congress subject headings, available from http://gita.grainger.uiuc.edu/registry/CatalogingOAIRepositories.pdf
November 2005: view the presentations from the Fall Forum 2005 session, "OAI for digital library aggregation," and read the documents from the OAI training session held on November 10, 2005, in Charlottesville, Virginia
October 2005: view the DLF MODS Portal—a subset of the DLF OAI Portal (see below)—drawing together those records that have the richer MODS metadata format, which supports much better subject, date, and geographic navigation (253,478 MODS records) http://www.hti.umich.edu/m/mods/
June 2005: read the findings from our first Scholars' Advisory Panel [PDF | HTML]
April 2005: view the DLF OAI Portal that makes accessible all items from DLF libraries that have been publicized through the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (1,042,268 records) http://www.hti.umich.edu/i/imls/

In September 2004, the Digital Library Federation (DLF) was awarded $292,456 by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as one of their National Leadership Grants for Libraries.

DLF in partnership with Emory University (Emory), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and the University of Michigan (Michigan), will research, design, and prototype a second generation OAI finding system, capitalizing on the lessons learned from the first wave of OAI harvesting and using as its raw material collections drawn from across the DLF membership. The aim is to foster better teaching and scholarship through easier, more relevant discovery of digital resources, and enhance libraries' ability to build more responsive local services on top of a distributed metadata platform.

The work of the grant project team is guided by the participation of three working groups: the DLF OAI Project Affiliates Team, the DLF OAI Scholars' Advisory Panel, and the DLF OAI Technical Advisory Group. Click here to review a list of group members.

An abstract of this two-year research and development grant, outlining its goals, objectives, and impacts is posted below. To read the full narrative, follow this link.


In 2004, the Digital Library Federation began a 2-year project to research, design, and prototype a second generation OAI finding system, capitalizing on the lessons learned from the first wave of OAI harvesting and using, as its raw material, collections drawn from across the DLF membership. Our research here builds on the digital objects, motivated scholarly users, and high-level OAI expertise that we have across our 38-member organization, and is informed by ongoing research into metadata creation and service building at Emory, Michigan, UIUC, and elsewhere, including our colleagues in the NSF's (OAI-based) National Science Digital Library.

The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) has proven itself as a protocol that allows basic metadata records to be created by many providers and then gathered up by harvesters who use those records to create library services (e.g. www.oaister.org). In the act of using it over several years in library settings, however, a range of issues have come to light that need research and development if OAI is going to mature into its full potential: collections as well as item records need further development, and we need richer mechanisms of creating dialog between harvesters and providers; the hurdles to adoption need careful study, particularly how to embed the very idea of creating public, harvestable metadata as a routine step in our digitizing workflows, and how to speed up the feedback loop from a harvester to a community of providers such as exists in the library world, who typically respond positively to such "good practice" guidance.

The aim we have clearly in mind is to foster better teaching and scholarship through easier, more relevant discovery of digital resources, and a much greater ability for libraries to build more responsive local services on top of a distributed metadata platform. To this end, a team of scholars—alongside digital library experts—will be assembled at the early stages of the project and their input will inform and challenge our assumptions about the nature and design of our prototype service throughout the grant period.

DLF is an ideal community in which to prototype collection-level and item-level metadata that is explicitly designed for use in digital library aggregation services. We are large enough to give confidence that what we discover can be generally applied; we have rich intellectual resources in our librarians and a proven track record for effective collaborative work; and we have in our number some of the most active OAI harvesting service providers. We have a good sense of the barriers to providing OAI records routinely, and the training and consultancy component of our work seeks to overcome those hurdles; related work such as the recent DLF Survey of Digital Aggregation Services provides rich feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the first wave of OAI services--lessons we will take to heart in this second wave research.

imls logo
The Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal grant-making agency dedicated to creating and sustaining a nation of learners by helping libraries and museums serve their communities, supports the Digital Library Federation.

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