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Introduction to the IESR; IESR: A Registry of Collections and Services

Amanda Hill and Ann Apps

Mimas, The University of Manchester.

Summary of presentation at:
Digital Library Service Registry Workshop, National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia, USA, 23 March 2006.

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Amanda Hill and Ann Apps gave a presentation about the Information Environment Service Registry. The context for the registry was described by Amanda, who explained that the registry was seen as one of the components of the Information Environment envisaged by the UK's Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), which is responsible for providing and supporting ICT within universities and colleges. The aim of the Information Environment is to make it much easier to connect users with resources which will be useful for their research, teaching and learning. A recent paper by Andy Powell describes 'A service-oriented view of the JISC Information Environment' and explains the role of the service registry as "the service (or set of services) that maintains and exposes information about the services that are available on the network".

The IESR is therefore a catalogue of the electronic resources available within the JISC's Information Environment, holding information about the resources themselves, the technical access points (services) to data resources and the organisations which provide the resources and services.

Ann went on to explain how the content of IESR is described, giving some examples of current descriptions, the services that provide access to the records in IESR, which is a middleware service intended primarily for machine-to-machine use, some possible ways in which IESR could be used, and some future envisaged developments of service registries.

The resources described in IESR are collections, services that provide access to the collections, and agent collection owners or service administrators. Digital data resources are described as collections using a metadata application profile based on current developing standards (the NISO Metasearch Initiative Collection Description Specification and the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) Collection Description Application Profile). "Backbone" searching over collections is provided via the Dewey Decimal Classification System. Services may be either `informational', which provide access to a collection, or `transactional'. Transactional, broker services play a significant role in the Information Environment without providing access to an explicit collection, for example an OpenURL Resolver or a SOAP Web Service within an eScience workflow. IESR describes services using a small set of bespoke metadata, primarily to support discovery, which is effectively a wrapper for more detailed connection information according to the appropriate standard for the service protocol. In IESR context a service has a single access protocol. It may also have a descriptive service type according to a prototype vocabulary, eg `Alert'. Although IESR's primary purpose is to assist machine-to-machine applications, `web page' is included as a service protocol to support the many collections that provide only a human search interface. All IESR descriptions have associated administrative metadata to maintain provenance, and to assert a Creative Commons licence that reserves some rights over reuse (non-commercial, attribution required, share-alike).

The IESR API provides various services into the metadata descriptions and further are planned, either by searching or harvesting, including a human web interface, and also a web-form Editor for registering resources.

IESR expects some of its users to be Digital Library portals, including metasearch applications. A dynamic portal could discover, then provide a metasearch over, collections appropriate to an end-user, without the need for manual intervention to build resources into the portal, potentially widening the user's landscape of useful knowledge. Use of IESR descriptions by harvesting, or by human discovery preparatory to manually plugging a resource into an application, is also expected.


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence: Attribution Required; Non-Commercial; Share-Alike.

18 April 2006

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