Universal Access to Cultural Heritage Material: The Europeana Resolution Discovery Service for Persistent Identifiers

Lars G. Svensson


Within the cultural heritage community, it is increasingly common to distinguish the tasks of identification and addressing the object by using a location-independent Persistent Identifier (PI) such as a URN, a DOI, or a Handle linked to a URL describing the object location in an institutional repository or a digital long-term preservation system run by a national library. This way, the problem that a digital object is inaccessible if the content provider moves it to a different location can be solved since the object can still be found using the PI.
In order to resolve a PI to a URL with the object location, a resolution service is required, which usually is run by the national library acting as legal deposit for the digital object. This requires the user to know, which national library is responsible for the service, which is a problem for digital library portals collecting metadata from content providers in different cultural settings and from different nations. For the European cultural heritage portal Europeana, it was decided to implement a metaresolver – The Europeana Resolution Discovery Service (ERDS) – which collects all PI resolution requests and dispatches them to the proper national resolver service. The development of this metaresolver is part of the Europeana sister-project EuropeanaConnect and is scheduled for completion in July 2010.

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