In early 2007 the National Library of Australia (NLA) commenced the People Australia project. It was originally intended that the project would create a new collaborative resource discovery service called People Australia similar to existing services such as Australian Research Online (http://research.nla.gov.au), Libraries Australia (http://librariesaustralia.nla.gov.au), Music Australia (http://www.musicaustralia.org), and Picture Australia (http://www.pictureaustralia.org). This service would allow users to discover biographical and contextual information about a person or organisation (a party), access links to related parties and, importantly, access resources by and about the party.
During the People Australia project the National Library commenced the development of its integrated discovery service called Trove (http://trove.nla.gov.au). This service offers a single point of discovery for topics and resources independent of their format. Importantly it also exposes the relationships between resources across formats. In terms of its web interface, People Australia was the first service to be natively implemented in the Trove framework as the People and Organisations view (http://trove.nla.gov.au/people).
In taking a standards-based approach to its record formats and data interchange protocols the People Australia project added key services to the Australian national information infrastructure that have presented opportunities, particularly with managing identities in the Australian research sector. The People Australia project has also created key internal services that have benefitted other National Library projects.
The People Australia program commenced operation in early 2009 and in its first year focused on increasing the numbers of contributors to the service and greatly increase the numbers of records available. By the start of 2010 the People and Organisations view of Trove provided users with access to approximately 880,000 party records drawn from eight contributors.
The rest of this page provides an overview of the services operated by the People Australia program and of future activities.
The People Australia program ingests data from a range of contributors and makes it available via Trove and a range of machine-to-machine interfaces. The core of the People Australia data is the Name Authority File created as part of the National Bibliographic Database operated by Libraries Australia and the program has to date ingested records from the following services:
- Australia Dancing
- Australian Dictionary of Biography Online
- Australian Mines Atlas
- Australian Parliamentary Library
- Australian Women's Register
- Collections Australia Network
- Dictionary of Australian Artists Online
- Encycldaedia of Australian Science
- Libraries Australia
- Music Australia
Through this work People Australia has essentially become an identity resolution service which provides a single point of access to information about a party and refers users to contributed information about that party.
Following a data analysis task in the People Australia project, the Encoded Archival Context (EAC) standard, released in 2004, was selected as the base record format for parties. It was selected primarily because of its flexibility, its ability to be used across the Australian collections sector and to meet a number of requirements for describing parties that were not met by existing library-based standards. In the People Australia data each EAC record groups name variants for a party and, where available, includes biographical and contextual information, references to related resource records, references to related parties and details about a party's function, field of activity or occupation. Importantly the EAC records relate party records from a number of contributors.
In 2007 the analysis work carried out by the People Australia project identified a range of issues with EAC. Coincidentally the international EAC Working Group was reformed with a view to redeveloping the 2004 version of EAC. Basil Dewhurst was invited to join the EAC Working Group and through the generous assistance of the Friends of the National Library was able to attend the May 2008 meeting of the EAC working Group in Bologna, Italy and table these issues. The EAC Working Group has carried out work to develop a new version of the standard entitled Encoded Archival Context for Corporate Bodies Persons and Families(EAC-CPF). EAC-CPF is due for release in February 2010 and in time will be implemented in the People Australia infrastructure.
Currently all contributors to the People Australia program use the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) to contribute party records and People Australia supports harvesting of both OAI Repositories and OAI Static Repositories as depicted in Figure 1: Metadata contribution to People Australia.
Figure 1: Metadata contribution to People Australia.
Records are harvested by the NLA Harvester which has been designed with flexibility in mind and has the ability to apply multiple processing steps to incoming records that can transform the structure or content of the records. In the case of People Australia records, these ingested in or transformed into EAC in the harvester and passed to an identity matching service for further processing.
The National Library has extensive experience with metadata harvesting using OAI-PMH for its discovery services and for these services separate metadata harvesters were used. Foreshadowing the single business model that underpins Trove, the People Australia project specified and implemented a new harvester that is currently used for Australian Research Online, Libraries Australia, People Australia and Trove. As existing services such as Picture Australia are migrated to Trove, they will commence use of the new harvester.
As described above, records ingested into People Australia by the harvester are passed to an identity matching service; this is depicted as the auto-match process in Figure 1. This service attempts to automatically match incoming party records to existing parties. If a record is automatically matched during the auto-match process it is collocated with an existing People Australia party and assigned the persistent identifier for that identity. If a record is unable to be matched it is passed to the Data Administration module for matching by hand. If an ingested record is new and does not match an existing party a new persistent identifier is assigned.
The National Library is committed to the use of persistent identifiers for the permanent identification of internet resources and has a history of managing and supporting persistent identification. The People Australia service assigns each party with a public, persistent and citable identifier. For example, the persistent identifier for the feminist and activist, Maybanke Anderson, is http://nla.gov.au/nla.party-466159 and http://nla.gov.au/nla.party-869246 for 'Darwin's bulldog' Thomas Huxley.
People Australia persistent identifiers for parties are made freely available via Trove and via machine-to-machine interfaces including the People Australia Search and Retrieval via URL (SRU) and Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) services.
Through its People and Organisations view the NLA's new integrated discovery service, Trove, provides access to the data ingested by the People Australia program.
The Trove People and Organisation records display all aspects of the EAC record and a good example is the Maybanke Anderson record shown in Figure 2 below. This record is drawn from a number of key sources including the Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, the Australian Women's Register, Libraries Australia and Music Australia. Moving from the top of the record to the bottom it shows information drawn from all of these sources:
1) the primary and other forms of name for Maybanke Anderson along with existence dates;
2) her occupations;
3) the persistent identifier for her record;
4) biographical snippets;
5) related people and organisations; and,
6) related resources.
Each Trove People and Organisation record also refers users to the record available on our contributor's services.
Because one of the primary aims of Trove is to expose relationships between resources the various panels on the right hand side of the screen show results drawn from other areas of Trove.
Figure 2: The Trove Maybanke Anderson record (http://nla.gov.au/nla.party-466159)
In addition to the Trove web interface for people and organisations, the National Library has made available three standards-based machine-to-machine interfaces that allow other services to search or harvest data about parties thereby enabling and supporting interoperability. The OAI Repository, Search and Retrieval via URL (SRU) interface and OpenSearch interface are depicted in Figure 3: People Australia machine-to-machine interfaces below.
Figure 3: People Australia machine-to-machine interfaces
The People Australia OAI Repository is available at http://www.nla.gov.au/apps/peopleaustralia-oai/. Record formats available are EAC and Dublin core.
SRU (Search and Retrieve via URL)
SRU (Search and Retrieve via URL) provides a standard web-based text-searching interface, utilises a rich query language called CQL (Contextual Query Language) and provides records in XML format. The People Australia SRU interface is available at http://www.nla.gov.au/apps/srw/search/peopleaustralia. Record formats available are EAC, Dublin core and ATOM.
The People Australia OpenSearch interface description file is available at: http://www.nla.gov.au/apps/srw/peopleaustralia-os-description.xml. Record formats available are RSS and ATOM format. OpenSearch supports basic keyword searching and provides records in XML format.
The infrastructure that the National Library created in the People Australia project has enabled authority control in other online services and through a new project is being used as the building blocks for identifying researchers the Australian Research sector through the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) Party Infrastructure Project (http://wiki.nla.gov.au/display/ardcpip). The ARDC Party Infrastructure Project is an Australian National Data Service (ANDS) funded project being carried out by the National Library of Australia (NLA). The project aims to enable the improved discovery of research outputs and data in the ARDC through persistently identifying Australian researchers and research organisations.
In 2010 other People Australia program sources including the Australian Parliamentary Library and the Dictionary of Australian Artists Online, the National Archives of Australia Commonwealth Agencies data, Bright Sparcs (Australian scientific researchers) and Australian Science at Work (Australian scientific organisations) will be brought online.
The NLA is a partner in the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) which currently makes available approximately 12 million authority records from National Libraries and other online services across the globe. We are currently making preparations to ingest VIAF records into People Australia. The impact of ingesting these records into People Australia will be that information about and resources by and about people and organisations from across the globe will be available to all Australians