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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Australian METS Profile: A Journey about Metadata

In December 2007 the National Library of Australia registered an
Australian METS Profile with the Library of Congress. This profile
describes the rules and requirements for using the Metadata Exchange and
Transmission Standard (METS) to support the collection of and access to
content in Australian digital repositories. METS is a framework standard
that enables metadata describing an object and its structure to be
recorded in a document that can be used as a Submission Information
Package (SIP) or Dissemination Information Package (DIP) in digital
object management and delivery scenarios. It is extensible by plugging
in various other extension schemas such as MODS (Metadata Object
Description Schema) for resource description, MIX (Metadata for Images
in XML) for still image technical metadata and PREMIS (PREservation
Metadata Implementation Strategies) for provenance and fixity. The aim
of this article is to describe our journey towards a generic Australian
METS profile that can be used across multiple domains and usage scenarios.
It also describes how the main profile and the sub-profile work together
and what additional profiling work is planned by the National Library of
Australia and its partners to address the needs of the Australian
repository community and (hopefully) of the international community as
well. The Journal Workflow project focussed on the use case of preserving
access to an on-line journal created via the Public Knowledge Project
(PKP) Open Journal System (OJS) application. The Submission Service takes
packaged content (OJS Native XML), performs pre-ingestion processing over
it (transform OJS Native XML into a METS package) and submits it to a
repository. This workflow is customisable via the ability to develop and
configure localised workflow steps within the service. The METS package
is unpacked by the receiving repository and stored in whatever form the
repository requires. In future, the OJS application itself is likely to
support the export of content as a METS package. The Dissemination Service
is available to repositories and makes use of the Digital Repository
Interface (DRI) XML as the standard for representing the repository
objects. In this way any repository able to generate DRI-compliant
markup can store their objects natively but through the Dissemination
Service have them rendered in a common way. Under the Journal Workflow, a
journal stored in DSpace and Fedora native formats (vastly different) can
be given the same look and feel. The Simple Web-service Offering Repository
Deposit (SWORD) project led by UKOLN published its Deposit API not long
after the Submission Service project had concluded. SWORD has been
developed as a profile of the ATOM Publishing Protocol and is agnostic
to workflow or content packaging format. Combining METS with SWORD in
submission workflows is a direction we are currently exploring. METS is
a good fit for reaching our destination. It is, however, one of a long
line of standards developed to meet emerging needs. Standards will
continue to be developed to meet changes in technology and the dynamic
nature of the digital universe.

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