General Background

General Developments Outside Anthropology

There have been great strides made with regard to creating digital object repositories and moving toward interoperability between repositories. It is prudent to build on rather than reinvent these developments. The best way to do this is to work with experts who are familiar with the accomplishments from these fields.

In its broadest sense, the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) is an organization that seeks to promote interoperability so as to “facilitate the efficient dissemination of content” ( While funded largely by funds in the US, it reaches out to a broad-based community of concerned individuals and institutions ( OAI has suggested a mechanism—Open Archives Initiative-Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH)—which allows harvesting data from many repositories. (Note that OLAC is specifically intended to be a linguistics-specific extension of OAI.) While technically the metadata may be in any agreed-upon format, the OAI-PMH protocol suggests Dublin Core metadata standards. The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative is a separate organization that seeks to promote a central set of metadata terms to find and share information. Dublin Core metadata has gained wide acceptance.

Architecture systems for digital repositories with long-term preservation goals have also been developed. For example, the Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) has been accepted as an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standard ( OAIS models all the functions of a digital repository, from receiving and preparing items (ingest function), storing, maintaining, and retrieving items (archival storage), data management and administration, and access ( Software systems, including open source software, can implement this architecture. For example, Fedora (Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture) is designed to archive complex digital objects and gives organizations flexible tools for managing and delivering their digital content.

Core metadata elements central to long-term preservation have been laid out by a working group called PREMIS (PREservation Metadata Implementation Strategies) organized by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC–a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization used by more than 40,000 libraries now combined with RLG).

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