A statewide metasearch service using OAI‐PMH and Z39.50

Joanne Kaczmarek (University Archives, University of Illinois Library at Urbana‐Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA)
Chew Chiat Naun (Serials Cataloguing, University of Illinois Library at Urbana‐Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Publication date: 1 December 2005



The purpose of this paper is to describe the Illinois LSTA grant‐funded project, “Yellow Brick Roads: Building a Digital Shortcut to Statewide Information”. The project investigated the feasibility of unified searching across library holdings, digitization projects, and online state government information through use of the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI‐PMH) in tandem with the Z39.50 protocol through application of the Z39.50/OAI Gateway Profile.


The project proceeded through the construction of a metasearch service model based on the Z39.50/OAI Gateway Profile. Technical obstacles encountered during the construction of this demonstration service were noted, as were potential solutions. The evaluation of the Z39.50/OAI harvesting component of the Gateway Profile was conducted by means of a questionnaire of vendors providing Z39.50 servers to the Illinois Regional Library Systems.


The established technology platform provided by the University of Illinois Open Archives Initiative (OAI) Metadata Harvesting Project proved to be adequate to data sets of this size and character. However, the project concluded that the Z39.50/OAI Gateway Profile could not be deployed because of limitations in the functionality of typical Z‐servers.

Research limitations/implications

The project concentrated on the technical aspects of building such a service model rather than on the usability of the interface or on questions of interoperability at the metadata level, such as to what extent the vocabularies used by the different metadata communities was compatible.


The project's findings indicate that more labor intensive, or less timely, processes of aggregating records than that envisaged by the Z39.50/OAI approach will continue to be necessary. However, further investigation of hybrid approaches hold promise.



Kaczmarek, J. and Chiat Naun, C. (2005), "A statewide metasearch service using OAI‐PMH and Z39.50", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 576-586. https://doi.org/10.1108/07378830510636355

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