OAIster provides access to digital resources by "harvesting" their descriptive metadata (records) using OAI-PMH (the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting). The Open Archives Initiative is not the same thing as the Open Access movement.
Digital resources can range from an old-time advertisement of electric refrigerators (from the Library of Congress American Memory project) to Harriet Beecher Stowe memoirs (from the University of Michigan Digital Library Production Service Making of America collection).
Digital resources include items such as:
- digitized (i.e., scanned) books and articles
- born-digital texts
- audio files (e.g., wav, mp3)
- images (e.g., tiff, gif)
- movies (e.g., mp4, quicktime)
- datasets (e.g., downloadable statistics files)
These resources, often hidden from search engine users behind web scripts, are known as the "deep web." The owners of these resources share them with the world using OAI-PMH.
OAIster reveals these digital resources in an easy-to-use, searchable interface. In addition, we aim to:
- Provide one-stop "shopping" for users interested in useful, academically-oriented digital resources. We gather all potential digital resources out there in an effort to build a comprehensive digital union catalog.
- Eliminate dead ends. Users retrieve not only descriptions (metadata) about resources, they have access to the real digital resources. For instance, instead of just the catalog records of a slide collection of Van Gogh's works, users are able to view images of the actual works.