Open Archives Initiative

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The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) is an attempt to build a "low-barrier interoperability framework" for archives (institutional repositories) containing digital content (digital libraries). It allows people (service providers) to harvest metadata (from data providers). This metadata is used to provide "value-added services", often by combining different data sets.

Initially, the initiative has been involved in the development of a technological framework and interoperability standards specifically for enhancing access to e-print archives, in order to increase the availability of scholarly communication; OAI is, therefore, closely related to the open access publishing movement. However, the developed technology and standards are applicable in a much broader domain than scholarly publishing alone.

The OAI technical infrastructure, specified in the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) version 2.0, defines a mechanism for data providers to expose their metadata. This protocol mandates that individual archives map their metadata to the Dublin Core, a simple and common metadata set for this purpose. In other words, the relation of OAI compatibility to Dublin Core is that OAI standards allow a common way to provide content, and part of those standards is that the content has metadata that describes the items in Dublin Core format.

OAI has recently[when?] begun work on the Object Reuse and Exchange (OAI-ORE) project which defines standards for the description and exchange of aggregations of Web resources.

Funding for the initiative comes from various organizations including the Joint Information Systems Committee.

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