ltr: Vol. 46 Issue 4: p. 35
Chapter 5: Resources
Michael Witt


The Open Archives Initiative Object Reuse and Exchange (ORE) specification defines a set of new standards for the description and exchange of aggregations of Web resources. This presents an exciting opportunity for us to revisit how digital libraries are provisioned. ORE and its concept of aggregation–that a set of digital objects of different types and from different locations on the Web can be described and exposed together as a single, compound entity–may present the next major disruptive technology for librarians who develop and manage collections of digital information.

Currently, the management and presentation of digital library collections revolve mostly around the digital library systems that house them. A librarian decides what digital resources go together and then works within the capabilities of the system to present the resources in an appropriate and orderly context. The result is typically a series of webpages that human beings need to navigate in order to find and click on links to resources that meet their information needs. While the system may expose its metadata for harvesting or its index for federated searching, the digital resources themselves are tucked deeply inside proprietary silos.

ORE presents the possibility of breaking down these silos by exposing the semantics of these resources and providing hooks to retrieve them without the need for a human being to read a webpage and click on a link. Liberating digital library content from these silos for reuse and exchange may very well explode the construct of the “collection” as we know it today because it will no longer be the exclusive domain of librarians to aggregate digital library resources and dictate the context of their presentation for use. Human beings and machines will be able to assemble their own “collections.”

The goal of this issue of Library Technology Reports is to present a tutorial on ORE to make it more approachable and understandable to information professionals who are not computer scientists or programmers. The report begins by presenting the general concepts of ORE and then works backwards to explain and fill in some of the supporting technical details. It introduces the basic concepts of ORE and its foundation and follows an example of implementation to illustrate the graphing of the ORE data model, exploring Aggregations and Aggregated Resources and the serialization and provisioning of Resource Maps. A series of ORE tools and implementations are presented to relate the specification to real-world application in libraries.

While the Semantic Web and ORE represent potentially disruptive technologies, the need for librarians to help make sense of interoperable digital information by provisioning resources with care and quality metadata and by connecting users to resources–and resources to resources–is greater than ever. In order to capitalize on these technologies, librarians must first understand them and be able to relate them to the professional practice of librarianship.

Selected ORE Implementations, Demonstrations, and Tools
Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories

A demonstration of ORE utilizing Resource Maps to integrate the Open Journal System with a DSpace repository for the submission and subsequent rendering of Aggregations to end-users.

Using OAI-ORE in an e-Journal-to-Repository Workflow

Ben O'Steen, David Tarrant, Tim Brody

A powerful demonstration at the Open Repositories 2008 conference where a group of repository developers used ORE to transfer the entire contents of an e-Prints repository into a Fedora repository and back again.

The CRIG Repository Developer Challenge

Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS)

Demonstrations of “enhanced” publications that are constructed using ORE and displayed as webpages using client-side (DRIVER-II) and server-side (JALC) XSLT transformations. DRIVER-II also provides Java applet for visualizing the relationships between the resources.

Enhanced Publications

European Commission

A portal, API, and collection of materials from cultural institutions all over Europe that uses ORE as a modeling tool to present complex digital objects.


German National Library of Economics (ZBW)

A collection of more than six million digitized newspaper clippings between the 19th century and 2005 that are exposed as ORE Aggregations with Resource Maps serialized using RDFa.

20th Century Newspaper Archives

Ghent University

A custom-made institutional repository and faculty citation management system that includes support for ORE.


Japanese Digital Mathematics Library

Utilizes ORE for aggregating resources that relate to mathematics from distributed digital libraries, serializing Resource Maps as Atom XML.

Japanese Digital Mathematics Library

Jewish American Archive

A module for the Drupal content management system that allows you to build and present media presentations based on OAI-ORE.

Nodequeue OAI-ORE

Johns Hopkins University

Librarians collaborating with astronomers to publish, archive, and cross-link documents and research data sets.

National Virtual Observatory

Library of Congress and National Endowment for the Humanities

A long-term program to digitize a selection of newspapers published in the United States between 1836 and 1922 to preserve and improve access to them.

National Digital Newspaper Program

Los Alamos National Labs, Old Dominion University

A project that utilizes HTTP content negotiation and ORE concepts to retrieve archived versions of Web resources from the past.


Michael Giarlo

A plug-in for the Wordpress blog platform that generates Resource Maps for blog pages and posts that are exposed using Atom.

Wordpress Plug-in for ORE

Microsoft External Research

A word processor plug-in for Microsoft Word 2007 that adds support for SWORD and the generation and embedding of Resource Maps into .docx files.

Article Authoring Add-in for Microsoft Word

An institutional repository built on top of Microsoft SQL Server and the .Net framework that supports ORE natively.


Mellon Foundation

A broad collaboration to facilitate standards and implementations for leveraging annotations across clients, servers, and collections.

Open Annotation Collaboration


A broad collaboration sponsored by Microsoft that builds on the work of ORE by defining a core model, ontology, and extensions for chemical entities, populating and exposing data sources using the model, and developing a set of demonstration applications in scholarly communication and research in chemistry.


Oskar Grenholm, National Library of Sweden

An open-source ORE implementation for the Fedora repository.


University of Cambridge

A JavaScript application that presents a quick way to view and navigate through the resources in Aggregations in a pop-up pane that uses preloading and ORE autodiscovery.


University of Liverpool

A project that has produced code libraries for implementing ORE in Java and Python as well as an extension for Mozilla Firefox called explORE that can visually characterize Aggregations, which was originally developed for JSTOR and with support from HP Labs.


The winner of the “ORE Challenge” at RepoCamp 2008 that provides a visual interface for navigating nested Aggregations.


University of Queensland

A Mozilla Firefox extension that enable researchers to create and publish ORE-compliant literary objects that encapsulate their digital resources and bibliographic metadata and view them as Aggregations.


A scientific authoring, publishing, and editing environment that generates ORE-compliant digital objects.

SCOPE: A Scientific Compound Object Publishing and Editing System

University of Southampton, University of Manchester

A social networking platform for sharing formalized scientific workflows that can be exposed as ORE Aggregations.

University of Southern Queensland, University of Cambridge

A demonstration of ORE in various applications in a production environment including integrating repositories and the production of electronic theses and dissertations.

ICE Theorem

Texas Digital Library

An implementation of ORE for the DSpace repository platform that supports a digital library of electronic theses and dissertations.


Selected References

OAI-ORE Community
ORE Executive Committee

Carl Lagoze, Cornell University

Herbert Van de Sompel, Los Alamos National Laboratory Research Library

ORE Advisory Committee

Sayeed Choudhury, Johns Hopkins University

Gregory Crane, Tufts University

Lorcan Dempsey, OCLC

Mark Doyle, The American Physical Society

John Erickson, Hewlett-Packard Laboratories

Steve Griffin, National Science Foundation

Robert Hanisch, Space Telescope Science Institute

Jane Hunter, The University of Queensland

Clifford Lynch, Coalition for Networked Information

Liz Lyon, UKOLN

Peter Murray Rust, University of Cambridge

Jim Ostell, National Center for Biotechnology Information

Sandy Payette, Cornell University

Robby Robson, Eduworks

MacKenzie Smith, MIT Libraries

Leo Waaijers, SURF Platform ICT and Research

ORE Technical Committee

Chris Bizer, Free University of Berlin

Les Carr, University of Southampton

Tim DiLauro, Johns Hopkins University

Leigh Dodds, Ingenta

David Fulker, UCAR

Tony Hammond, Nature Publishing Group

Pete Johnston, Eduserv Foundation

Richard Jones, Imperial College

Peter Murray, OhioLINK

Michael Nelson, Old Dominion University

Ray Plante, NCSA and National Virtual Observatory

Rob Sanderson, University of Liverpool

Simeon Warner, Cornell University

Jeff Young, OCLC

ORE Liaison Group

Leonardo Candela, ISTI-CNRI and DRIVER

Tim Cole, DLF Aquifer and UIUC Library

Julie Allinson, University of York and JISC

Jane Hunter, DEST

Savas Parastatidis, Microsoft

Sandy Payette, Fedora Commons

Thomas Place, DARE and University of Tilburg

Andy Powell, DCMI

Robert Tansley, Google, Inc. and DSpace

OAI-ORE Community on Google Groups

Article Categories:
  • Information Science
  • Library Science


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Published by ALA TechSource, an imprint of the American Library Association.
Copyright Statement | ALA Privacy Policy