Date of Award

Winter 2002

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science

Committee Director

Kurt Maly

Committee Director

Mohammad Zubair

Committee Member

Frank C. Thames

Committee Member

Chris Wild

Committee Member

Steven J. Zeil


This dissertation studies the challenges and issues faced in federating heterogeneous digital libraries (DLs) by metadata harvesting. The objective of federation is to provide high-level services (e.g. transparent search across all DLs) on the collective metadata from different digital libraries. There are two main approaches to federate DLs: distributed searching approach and harvesting approach. As the distributed searching approach replies on executing queries to digital libraries in real time, it has problems with scalability. The difficulty of creating a distributed searching service for a large federation is the motivation behind Open Archives Initiatives Protocols for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). OAI-PMH supports both data providers (repositories, archives) and service providers. Service providers develop value-added services based on the information collected from data providers. Data providers are simply collections of harvestable metadata. This dissertation examines the application of the metadata harvesting approach in DL federations. It addresses the following problems: (1) Whether or not metadata harvesting provides a realistic and scalable solution for DL federation. (2) What is the status of and problems with current data provider implementations, and how to solve these problems. (3) How to synchronize data providers and service providers. (4) How to build different types of federation services over harvested metadata. (5) How to create a scalable and reliable infrastructure to support federation services. The work done in this dissertation is based on OAI-PMH, and the results have influenced the evolution of OAI-PMH. However, the results are not limited to the scope of OAI-PMH. Our approach is to design and build key services for metadata harvesting and to deploy them on the Web. Implementing a publicly available service allows us to demonstrate how these approaches are practical. The problems posed above are evaluated by performing experiments over these services.

To summarize the results of this thesis, we conclude that the metadata harvesting approach is a realistic and scalable approach to federate heterogeneous DLs. We present two models of building federation services: a centralized model and a replicated model. Our experiments also demonstrate that the repository synchronization problem can be addressed by push, pull, and hybrid push/pull models; each model has its strengths and weaknesses and fits a specific scenario. Finally, we present a scalable and reliable infrastructure to support the applications of metadata harvesting.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).