DL.org Digital Library Technology & Methodology Cookbook

George Athanasopoulos, Leonardo Candela, Donatella Castelli, Katherina El Raheb, Yanni Ioannidis, Anna Katifori, Anna Nika, Seamus Ross, Alice Tani, Costantino Thanos, Elena Toli, Giuseppina Vullo; Innocenti, Perla. (2011) DL.org Digital Library Technology & Methodology Cookbook. DL.org, Pisa.

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The needs for ‘building by re-use’ and ‘sharing’ have grown out of the demand for powerful and rich Digital Libraries supporting a large variety of interdisciplinary activities coupled with the data deluge which the information society is now facing. Interoperability at a technical, semantic and organisational level is a central issue to satisfy these needs. Interoperable systems broaden choice and open up new perspectives for researchers, governments and citizens across a spectrum of disciplines and domains. Interoperability is key to improve Digital Libraries, enabling wider collaborations and ensuring that a broader spectrum of resources are available to a wider range of people whether for simple consumption or to enhance research activities. Although the importance of interoperability is well known and many attempts have been made in the past to give solutions to interoperability problems, there still is a lack of systematic approaches, and, on average, a scarce knowledge of existing solutions which remain confined to the systems they have been designed for. The need for interoperability goes actually well beyond the digital library domain. Interoperability is among the most critical issues to be faced when building systems as “collections” of independently developed constituents (systems on their own) that should co-operate and rely on each other to accomplish larger tasks. The “Digital Agenda for Europe” (European Commission, May 2010), one of the seven flagship initiatives of Europe’s 2020 Strategy, outlines seven priority areas for actions; the second one concerns “improving the framework conditions for interoperability between ICT products and services”. This key priority foresees that it is essential to enhance interoperability between devices, applications, data repositories, services and networks inside a framework where the conditions for interoperability can be improved in various ways. One important means to that end is to ensure that good ICT standards are available and used, notably in public procurement and legislation. Interoperability is actually a multi-layered and context-specific concept, which encompasses different levels along a multi-dimensional spectrum ranging from organisational to semantic and technological aspects. DL.org has investigated interoperability from multiple perspectives: content, user, functionality, policy, quality, and architecture. It has also examined interoperability at technical, semantic and organisational levels, all central to powerful Digital Libraries needed in today’s context. DL.org is the first initiative to examine interoperability from an all-encompassing perspective by harnessing leading figures in the Digital Library space globally. The output is an innovative Digital Library Technological and Methodological Cookbook with a portfolio of best practices and pattern solutions to common issues faced when developing interoperable digital library systems. A key facet of the Cookbook is the interoperability framework that can be used to systematically characterise diverse facets linked to the interoperability challenge as well as current and emerging solutions and approaches. The Cookbook is designed to facilitate the assessment and selection of the solutions presented, enabling professionals working towards interoperability to define and pursue the different steps involved. This publication presents the Interoperability Framework and discusses interoperability from the perspectives of the content, user, functionality, policy, quality and architecture domains.