HaIRST: Harvesting Institutional Resources in Scotland Testbed. Final Project Report

Dunsire, Gordon (2005) HaIRST: Harvesting Institutional Resources in Scotland Testbed. Final Project Report. [Report]

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The HaIRST project conducted research into the design, implementation and deployment of a pilot service for UK-wide access of autonomously created institutional resources in Scotland, the aim being to investigate and advise on some of the technical, cultural, and organisational requirements associated with the deposit, disclosure, and discovery of institutional resources in the JISC Information Environment. The project involved a consortium of Scottish higher and further education institutions, with significant assistance from the Scottish Library and Information Council. The project investigated the use of technologies based on the Open Archives Initiative (OAI), including the implementation of OAI-compatible repositories for metadata which describe and link to institutional digital resources, the use of the OAI protocol for metadata harvesting (OAI-PMH) to automatically copy the metadata from multiple repositories to a central repository, and the creation of a service to search and identify resources described in the central repository. An important aim of the project was to identify issues of metadata interoperability arising from the requirements of individual institutional repositories and their impact on services based on the aggregation of metadata through harvesting. The project also sought to investigate issues in using these technologies for a wide range of resources including learning, teaching and administrative materials as well as the research and scholarly communication materials considered by many of the other projects in the JISC Focus on Access to Institutional Resources (FAIR) Programme, of which HaIRST was a part. The project tested and implemented a number of open source software packages supporting OAI, and was successful in creating a pilot service which provides effective information retrieval of a range of resources created by the project consortium institutions. The pilot service has been extended to cover research and scholarly communication materials produced by other Scottish universities, and administrative materials produced by a non-educational institution in Scotland. It is an effective testbed for further research and development in these areas. The project has worked extensively with a new OAI standard for 'static repositories' which offers a low-barrier, low-cost mechanism for participation in OAI-based consortia by smaller institutions with a low volume of resources. The project identified and successfully tested tools for transforming pre-existing metadata into a format compliant with OAI standards. The project identified and assessed OAI-related documentation in English from around the world, and has produced metadata for retrieving and accessing it. The project created a Web-based advisory service for institutions and consortia. The OAI Scotland Information Service (OAISIS) provides links to related standards, guidance and documentation, and discusses the findings of HaIRST relating to interoperability and the pilot harvesting service. The project found that open source packages relating to OAI can be installed and made to interoperate to create a viable method of sharing institutional resources within a consortium. HaIRST identified issues affecting the interoperability of shared metadata and suggested ways of resolving them to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of shared information retrieval environments based on OAI. The project demonstrated that application of OAI technologies to administrative materials is an effective way for institutions to meet obligations under Freedom of Information legislation.