DLF-Aquifer Asset Actions Experiment: Demonstrating Value of Actionable URLs
Metadata records harvested using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) are often characterized by scarce, inconsistent and ambiguous resource URLs. There is a growing recognition among OAI service providers that this can create access problems and can limit range of services offered. This article reports on an experiment carried out by the Digital Library Federation (DLF) Aquifer Technology/Architecture Working Group to demonstrate the utility of harvestable metadata records that include multiple typed actionable URLs ("asset actions"). The experiment dealt specifically with digital image resources. By having for all images a consistent set of well-labeled URLs (e.g., pointing to thumbnails, in-context presentations of images on data provider's Website, or medium and high resolution views), the service provider was able to insure consistent results across repositories of content from multiple institutions. With predictable retrieval, advanced features such as thumbnail result displays, image annotation and manipulation, and advanced book bag functions are possible. It was even possible to overlay for use with this widely dispersed content a locally developed digital object collector tool from the University of Virginia. Results illustrate the potential of asset actions and support the need for further work at the community level to define and model actionable URLs for different classes of resources, and to develop agreements on how to label and convey these URLs in concert with descriptive metadata.