A-1.6 What Has Been Done Elsewhere?


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A-1.6 What Has Been Done Elsewhere?

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This section gives background information on Europeana, WorldCat, Digital New Zealand, Libraries Australia, the National Science Digital Library and MICHAEL and Universeum. Further information on the lessons learned from SUNCAT, Copac and Archive Hub, RepUK, Go-Geo!, the UK Data Archive, VSM Portal Demonstrator, JorumUK and JorumOpen, Collections Trust, Culture Grid and DIE is summarised in the Final Report section 6.1.
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A-1.6.1 Europeana

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Europeana [i]collects multimedia library, museum and archives into one digital website combined with Web 2.0 features. It offers direct access to digitised books, audio and film material, photos, paintings, maps, manuscripts, newspapers and archival documents that encompass Europe’s cultural heritage. Visitors can search and explore different collections in Europe’s cultural institutions in their own language in virtual form, without having to visit multiple sites or countries.
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The Europeana v1.0 project began in January 2009. A report by Helga Trupel, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education notes [ii] that ‘Europeana is a very important project, because it gives people easy access to European culture and heritage worldwide. Furthermore, it is of high importance for the development of a knowledge-based society and the fostering of cultural diversity’.
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Europeana has engaged with end-users extensively to discover more about their needs, expectations and behaviour on the site. The online user survey in May 2009 was answered by over 3,000 users. It yielded positive results about loyalty and frequency of site usage, and highlighted some concerns about ease of access to content and search functionality.
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The aggregation model has achieved its aim of scaling up content provision: to date (July 2010) over 10 million objects have been ingested [iii]. The Europeana Content Strategy was published in August 2009. It identified those countries providing less than 1% of content and highlighted the poor representation of materials other than image, and focused the collection efforts on achieving greater parity. Substantial quantities of audiovisual material have been brought in; however, film and sound remain proportionately under-represented at this stage. Of the more than 10 million objects, over 7 million are images, over 3 million are text, and around 160,000 are video or sound. Current projects, such as EUScreen (in which BUFVC are partners) and MIMO (Musical Instrument Museums Online) will be supplying more audiovisual materials in 2011.
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Europeana is notable for strong features like the quality and authenticity of the content, guaranteed by the cultural organisations behind the service, and its openness in terms of cultural institutions that can participate and re-use the material.
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Europeana has a broader remit than commercial search engines such as ‘Google books’. Europeana gives access to different types of content from different types of cultural institutions, thus making it possible to bring together the works of a painter with relevant archival documents, as well as the books written about his life. However, asProfessor Stefan Gradmann, from Berlin School of Library and Information Science, stated [iv] in a Europeana White Paper, ‘It is important to understand that the metadata currently aggregated and which conform to the Europeana Semantic Elements specification (2009) are not an adequate basis for creating the fully operational Europeana including semantic features…, and that [therefore] partial re-delivery of data is a very likely scenario as a consequence. This is part of the overall planning for building Europeana.’
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Europeana prefers to work with aggregators; their Content Strategy states: “There are thousands of cultural and scientific institutions in Europe with content collections that are of interest for Europeana. It is not sustainable for Europeana to work with all these institutions directly… The labour effort connected to the administration and ingestion process is not dependent on the size of the collection but on the number of institutions and their collections. By aggregating content from several institutions, aggregators provide Europeana with economies of scale that allow Europeana to continue to be a relatively small organization without a large overhead and at the same time give access to a large quantity of content.” [v] Europeana can also work directly with individual institutions, in situations in which there is no appropriate aggregator.
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The Europeana content team has automated much of the process of content ingestion, in particular by developing a content checker. Aggregators can check their metadata functions correctly and their own providers can see their content display in a dummy Europeana interface. Any changes needed to metadata fields or mapping become apparent at that stage, and the onus is on the aggregator and their providers to refine the metadata before final submission.
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Regarding Intellectual Property Rights, the principle of re-use of open resources to generate innovation, creativity and knowledge is at the heart of the European Commission’s objectives for Europeana. This was reinforced by the Commission’s support for the recent publication of the Public Domain Charter. The Charter’s fundamental principle is that a change in format does not constitute a change in legal status. The outcome of the Charter that will have most impact on both providers and users are the operational consequences required by the Commission – that the rights associated with a digitised item must be clearly labelled so users will be able to exclude content from their results that requires payment or doesn’t comply with the Public Domain Charter. Rights labelling will become a requirement when submitting content to Europeana by the end of this year.
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A-1.6.2 WorldCat

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WorldCat [vi] is a global, aggregated library catalogue that was first launched in 1971. It has maintained its focus on the library community throughout its steady development.
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WorldCat is operated by OCLC, and although OCLC charges for services related to its cataloguing, access to WorldCat is free. WorldCat holds over 140 million records from 71,000 libraries, and has been searchable by anyone since 2006. It is presented to end-users as a single library catalogue that enables them both to identify the correct details for a book and to locate a library that holds a copy. Librarians can edit records and add new ones. WorldCat also has features aimed at the end-user community, such as a mobile phone catalogue search, a ‘favourite books’ listing service and a review feature. As a recent WorldCat policy report [vii] states, ‘WorldCat gives libraries a Web-scale presence. The more libraries participate, the better and more useful WorldCat becomes to libraries, their end-users, and other organizations that want to interact with libraries on the Web.’
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WorldCat is a federated search engine that co-indexes metadata records from articles, serials and monographs. It also combines in a single database metadata for direct access (physical) items and for electronic resources. So for example, users are theoretically able to locate in a single search all works, books, articles, etc., by a single author or all works on a particular topic. WorldCat has a great amount of unique metadata, including records for archival collections, theses and dissertations, and rare books, and also metadata records that describe art objects owned by museums and also display thumbnail images of the objects. OCLC is working with CAMIO, the Catalogue of Art Museum Images Online, contributors to add their metadata records and thumbnail images to WorldCat. All of the high-quality art images in CAMIO have been rights-cleared for educational use.
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Searches in WorldCat return a standard bibliographic record and details of libraries, museums or archives that hold the item. Additionally, WorldCat now allows users to add tags, reviews or comments, and to build lists that can be accessed from the catalogue record. These are similar to Amazon’s wish lists. Records also add a small number of related subject terms and ‘buy it’ links to Amazon and other online booksellers, and in some cases a ‘users who read this book, also read’ section. Ancillary features include cover images where available.
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A-1.6.3 Digital New Zealand

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Launched in December 2008, Digital New Zealand (DigitalNZ) is a collaborative project, led by the National Library and funded by the New Zealand Government, which aims to test new ways to create digital content, collect and share existing digital content and build smart, freely available search and discovery tools. A recent gathering of a group of experts who met at UKOLN to discuss aggregation in the context of the RDTF vision was noted [viii] to have made favourable comments about the results of the DigitalNZ initiative.
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A primary aim of the Digital New Zealand project is to increase the amount of New Zealand digital content available online. As the DigitalNZ website mentions, ‘ease of use and ease of discovery is crucial to web browsers: content that can’t be easily found won’t be used’. DigitalNZ is working with content creators to help them get their content online in a form that can be easily found and used by web users. They take the metadata and see what they can do.
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The metadata available through DigitalNZ comes from content providers across the New Zealand cultural and heritage, broadcasting, education, and government sectors; as well as local community sources and individuals. Geospatial and commercial content is due to be available by early 2011. DigitalNZ only collects metadata for the content, so APIs point users to the online items made available by the content contributors. DigitalNZ therefore behaves much like a search engine, except that the metadata is highly structured.
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A-1.6.4 Libraries Australia

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Libraries Australia have worked in: partnership with Flickr: the library has arranged to harvest metadata for Australian images to add to the Pictures Australia service (integrated into a single search in the new beta service).
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A-1.6.5 National Science Digital Library (NSDL)

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The particular metadata schema with which this study is concerned is a variant on the DC standard called NSDL_DC. Its design grows out of the idea of ‘normalized’ metadata, or a ‘common denominator’ approach to metadata in an environment where individual projects may use diverse metadata schema based on their own specific needs and adapt it as necessary to satisfy an aggregator’s standard. For this reason, DC was chosen as the preferred format. DC comes in two versions: ‘Simple’ (only 15 elements) and ‘Qualified’ (with element refinements and encoding schemes).
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The Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), which is one of NSDL’s primary avenues for acquiring metadata, requires simple DC as a minimum. However, Simple DC’s 15 basic elements do not provide a sufficient platform for describing NSDL’s education- and research-focused holdings in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. Therefore, NSDL_DC has been developed as a customized application of Qualified DC. It also includes elements from the IEEE-LOM Learning Object Metadata standard and features NSDL-specific controlled vocabularies for the following elements: Education Level, Audience, Type, and Access Rights. The most important elements in the NSDL_DC schema are: Title, Identifier (URL/URI), Description, Subject (and/or keywords), Education Level, and Type.
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A-1.6.6 MICHAEL

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The MICHAEL service is the Multilingual Inventory of Cultural Heritage in Europe, and includes:
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  • A searchable database of digital resources from museums, libraries and archives in several European countries.
  • Articles and user stories, which look at various aspects of the European cultural heritage and the contents of MICHAEL.
  • Information about the MICHAEL project, the technology that it uses and links to useful materials.
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At a practical level, the MICHAEL service is being used to collect information about existing digitisation projects of all types, and is therefore an important overview of existing and planned projects.
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The MICHAEL database is based on national inventories of digital resources that have been created by the project partners. Each national inventory includes descriptions of digital collections and the websites, CD-ROMS and other products and services that have been created by museums, libraries and archives. The descriptions are written especially for MICHAEL by people working in, or on behalf of, the cultural institutions themselves. Details are harvested directly from the national inventories to become part of the MICHAEL database for the European services
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The major goal of the MICHAEL project is to build a multilingual inventory of the cultural heritage in Europe. To achieve this data will be gathered from regional and national inventories using a standard software platform and a shared data model.
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The MICHAEL software platform consists of two modules that work together to provide data management and publishing services.
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  • A production module allows users to create, modify, import and manage records that describe aspects of the digital cultural heritage. All of these functions are available using a standard Web browser. Data is stored using a powerful and flexible XML database, which is based on the MICHAEL data model.
  • A publication module provides an intuitive interface to enable end-users to search for digital cultural heritage with their Web browser. This module uses a powerful XML search and display engine, which can be customized to allow institutions or countries to adapt the interface to meet their particular needs.
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A MICHAEL national instance consists of both a production module and a publication module.
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The two MICHAEL modules act as data repositories that are consistent with the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH http://www.openarchives.org/) making metadata available in both standard DC and MICHAEL format. The MICHAEL publication module includes a REST-based API for searching and retrieving records using simple HTTP requests and XML responses. The MICHAEL platform is being distributed as open source software, and is built on top of other well-known open source components (e.g. Apache Cocoon, Apache TomCat and eXist, an XML database management system).
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Data has been collected in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, ensuring that it reflects activity across the UK. The project has been led by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, working with Regional Agencies in England, and a range of organisations in each country in the UK.
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The Strategic Content Alliance developed a strategy in 2008 for content and service registries at a UK level, which included identifying relationships between the MICHAEL service and the JISC Information Environment Service Registry, as well as related projects in Scotland.
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A-1.6.7 Universeum

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Universeum is a European network concerned with academic heritage in its broad sense. It aims at the preservation, study, access and promotion of university collections, museums, archives, libraries, botanical gardens, astronomical observatories, etc. and is open to heritage and museum professionals, researchers, students, university administrators and all those involved with university heritage.
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It is a network of collections at a collection level rather than the resource level. Its main goals are to:
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  • Promote reflection and research in order to enhance our knowledge about European university heritage.
  • Provide support in the preservation, care and promotion of university heritage.
  • Provide a forum for collaborative projects and share experiences and knowledge.
  • Establish links between European institutions and universities concerning their heritage.
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A-1.6.8 Enrichment of metadata

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One of the questions being addressed in this study is whether metadata contributed to an aggregation should be enriched (enhanced) and, if so, how should that be done and by whom.
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A recent study undertaken for the JISC Resource Discovery Taskforce (a group responsible for ‘defining the vision and requirements for the provision of a shared UK infrastructure for resource discovery for libraries, archives and museums to support education and research’), found that ‘enabling discovery across media types’ is one of the common challenges facing national resource discovery services. One of the common solutions is ‘improving and extending metadata.’ (Rightscom 2009). One approach to doing this, explored by some of the (commercial) services reviewed for this study was to have users edit resource discovery metadata. The report concluded that: ‘It is too early to say whether user editing of resource discovery metadata will be significant in improving quality’.
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Another enrichment that may be required is to incorporate information that is contextual within a service and thus is implicit, so that it becomes explicit within the aggregation. For example, if a whole service is about one famous person, the metadata do not need to name that person but if those metadata are incorporated into an aggregation, the person’s name must be included in every record [ix].
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The OCLC programme of projects called ‘Metadata switch’ explored a range of metadata-related services that may, in some regards, obviate the need for metadata enrichment for example, by translating records into different formats, or by providing related information from authority files or from other records that describe the same item [x]. Much of this would depend on matching of records; it can be a formidable challenge to state, with a reasonable degree of certainty, that record A describes the same thing as record B, let alone automate this process.
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These examples suggest that metadata enrichment may be essential in some instances and may be undertaken as a straightforward batch process whilst other, more sophisticated enrichments are more difficult or are unproven. It may be appropriate or necessary for an aggregator to apply differential rules to different types of collections – and, in some regards, to deal on a collection-by-collection basis.
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[i] http://www.europeana.eu/portal/
[ii] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/resume.jsp?id=5813232&eventId=1095518&backToCaller=NO&language=en
[iii] Highlights of Europeana v1.0
http://version1.europeana.eu/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=ea9f2b40-1730-4ab0-a3d6-5b3f2a051edb&groupId=10602
[iv] http://www.scribd.com/doc/32110457/Europeana-White-Paper-1
[v] http://version1.europeana.eu/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=b7b24d45-116e-442f-8b85-fbf931ebee72&groupId=10602
[vi] http://www.oclc.org/uk/en/worldcat/default.htm
[vii] WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative (June 2010) http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/recorduse/policy/default.htm
[viii] http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/jisc-ie/blog/2010/08/19/aggregation-and-the-resource-discovery-taskforce-vision/
[ix] Foulonneau, M. Cole, T. W., Habing, T. G., Shreeves, S.L. (2005) Using collection descriptions to enhance an aggregation of collection-level metadata, Proceedings of the 5th ACM/IEEE-CS joint conference on Digital libraries Denver, CO, USA, pp. 32 – 41, ISBN:1-58113-876-8.
[x] OCLC (2002) Metadata Switch, http://www.oclc.org/research/activities/past/orprojects/mswitch/default.htm (accessed 14 September 2010).

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