6 Cooperation between archives, libraries, museums

Archives, libraries and museums all have established registration standards for documentation, which govern most (but not all) of the national databases in these fields.

In 2003 the Ministry of Culture set up a working group with representatives from the archive, library and museum (ALM) sectors with the aim of establishing a set of recommendations for definitions of data format, data transfer and data content between the three sectors. The background was a wish to establish standards for local as well as national search portals in the ALM field.

A few Danish ALM portals were already in existence at that time (and still are):

The experiences from these projects were a valuable starting point for the working group. It was quite clear from the outset that not all data could be included in the data definitions, but that metadata would suffice, providing they contained a link to the full record. The Dublin Core (DC) 15 element set was chosen as the metadata standard, as this was already in use in the library sector.

The museum database chosen to test the DC mapping was The Museums' Collections, and the metadata from this database was mapped successfully, although the need for qualifiers on some of the DC elements was needed. This applied to the archives and libraries databases as well.

The same exercise had been done previously by the Cultural Heritage Agency on the NMR database in preparation for the data to be searchable in the ARENA portal. The same relative ease with mapping to the DC elements was experienced with the NMR data.

So DC mapping appears to be a suitable first step towards preparing for interoperable gateways in the ALM sector, but additions may be needed. Most users are used to free text searches, so a list of searchable keywords from all three sectors will need to be constructed as well.

As a second step the WG commissioned a small group from the Royal School of Library and Information Science and a private company (Index Data) to map one standard from each of the sectors - except two for the archives – to DC representing a common ALM format. A preliminary report (ABM arbejdsgruppe 2003) suggests that there will be no major obstacles in doing so.

A third step may be to do the conversion on a limited amount of selected data from the individual databases representing the standards involved in order to demonstrated the future possibilities both at a local and national level. There has yet to be decided on this action.

As to data exchange format, XML seems the logical choice, as the Ministry of Science, Technology and Development has recommended it as the standard for data transfer between public institutions.

Regarding data transport, two routes are put forward as suitable: Z39.50 (already in use in the libraries sector) or OAI-PMH. In their unpublished preliminary report from 2003 the ALM working group (ABM arbejdsgruppe 2003) seems to favour OAI-PMH but do suggest that the development of SRW as a successor to Z39.50 be followed closely.


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