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Open Archives initiative

Contributed by:
Edward A. Fox
Professor, Department of Computer Science
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

The Open Archives initiative (OAi) <http://www.openarchives.org> was launched in October 1999 to provide a forum to discuss and solve problems of interoperability among author self-archiving solutions.

The second meeting connected with the Open Archives initiative was a one-day workshop <http://purl.org/net/oaijune00/> supported and hosted by both ACM Hypertext '2000 <http://www.ht00.org> and ACM Digital Libraries '2000 <http://www.dl00.org>, on June 3 in San Antonio, Texas, USA. The purpose of this workshop was to ratify, solidify, and expand on previous agreements.

The third OAi meeting <http://purl.org/net/oaisept00>, which still has openings for interested attendees, will be held in Lisbon, Portugal, on September 21, 2000, in conjunction with the September 18-20 activities of ECDL'2000 <http://www.bn.pt/org/agenda/ecdl2000/>. These OAi workshops follow on from the October 20-21, 1999, meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which discussed what was then called the Universal Preprint Service and the Santa Fe Convention (see two February 2000 D-Lib Magazine articles at <http://www.dlib.org/dlib/february00/02contents.html>).

OAi aims to support archives, both those focused on e-prints (e.g., preprints and reprints, often connected with journals and conferences) and those representing a wide variety of other content types (e.g., theses and dissertations, Web log files, and educational resources). The emphasis has been on allowing harvesting of metadata that describes diverse "records" of content, stored in managed repositories. By June, there were 6 conforming archives with content available for harvesting.

At the Second OAi meeting, 43 people assembled from 5 countries. Eleven of those had attended the Santa Fe meeting, and many others were closely affiliated with an organization or group that participated in the Santa Fe meeting. Among those were the workshop organizing committee: Edward Fox, Carl Lagoze, Clifford Lynch, and Hussein Suleman -- each of whom gave brief presentations.

After the results of the Santa Fe meeting were discussed, follow on work was described. In the rest of the morning session, a thorough review led by representatives (Michael Nelson, Hussein Suleman, Robert Tansley, and Simeon Warner) of 4 implementation teams (Old Dominion University, Virginia Tech, Southampton University, and Los Alamos National Laboratory), along with comments solicited from all attendees, resulted in a list of concerns and issues. Workshop attendees agreed to work on these issues and create official and definitive documents that address all key concerns by the end of the calendar year. Coordination will be provided by an emerging OAi steering committee (with agreed participation of Dale Flecker, Edward Fox, Carl Lagoze, Clifford Lynch, and Herbert Van de Sompel -- and additional participation expected), with a focus on creating and managing appropriate mechanisms, both organizational and technical, to support the work of the initiative.

Version 2 of the OAi specifications and a number of conforming implementations, including in PERL and Java, will be available so that archives can participate easily in OAi. Both data and service providers should be able to confidently build on a firm foundation as they expand the set of functions available to deal with a growing distributed base of open metadata and content.

Afternoon sessions briefly considered follow-on work to support dissemination of initiative results, recruitment of new archives to join the OAi, development of additional services, research on the many technical/user/social/economic/legal problems that relate, and management/community development activities.

For more information and additional references see the Web site at <http://www.openarchives.org>, which points to the online workshop proceedings.