From infrastructure to intrastructure

Theo van Veen writes about the National Library of the Netherlands' (KB) plans for 'renewal' of their technical infrastructure in the current issue of Dlib Magazine. This is an important article in as much as it discusses how a major national organization is looking at unifying its D2D (discovery to delivery) framework in a unified architecture articulated in a web idiom. The emphasis is on reducing the fragmentation and 'off-webness' of the legacy environment. It proposes an approach based on unification of index data across resources, disclosure through 'webby' protocols (SRU), a sketched-out business entity model (collections, services, compound objects, thesaurus relation, ...), XML-based metadata and self-describing compound objects, routing of all requests through a central resolver, and much else.

The article is not very detailed, and is cast in the form of general recommendations. Nevertheless, I think it is well worth looking at.

The philosophy behind the recommendations in this article is a simple one: most services have a base-URL and accept URL parameters in compliance with appropriate standards. The responses are in XML, which is also in compliance with standards. The combination results in machine-readable responses that can generate machine-readable requests to get information from services selected by users. The addresses (base URLs) of these services can be entered by users, but the addresses can also be obtained as part of the information from other services. [Renewing the Information Infrastructure of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek]

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