Like many others in class, I had difficulty finding working links on the list of open archives service providers we were given. Most service providers seemed to collect scientific database metadata, and many sites were in foreign languages, which is great but not useful to me. There were only a few that provided harvests from humanities archives; these were almost exclusively the same sites that I found with my harvester. I also found many dead links; or sites that would not load.
I looked at the DL-Harvest site from the University of Arizona; its description states that “It brings together full-text, scholarly materials in the Information Sciences from many different OAI-PMH compliant repositories.” The site seemed true to its description, well organized, and I was able to search it easily. It would be very useful if I were looking for articles in library science or information management.
I looked at the OIAster site, which is the huge federated site that supports WorldCat. That site is truly amazing, and the search is faceted in very useful ways, mainly by type of resource, which works for me most of the time. I think this service is very very useful; there have been many times I have used WorldCat to find things I could not find in other ways. In particular, when I am searching for archival material it is invaluable. I think it is especially helpful when one is searching for unique items, or a set of items that is small in number. A general search would return too many hits. But again, being able to select archival material usually returns a manageable set. Sometimes the links don’t click through, or it can’t resolve a particular record to a particular library or collection; but that is pretty rare in my experience.
The Perseus site was really interesting. It collects metatdata from sites containing Greek and Latin texts, as well as Arabic and Old Norse. It was very easy to use and search; it also included a dictionary for each language. I liked the interface; when I searched for “shame” in the general search bar, I got hits that actually showed me the hits in context. It is very useful for the subject matter it covers.
It seems that services work best that have a very specific focus; or a very, very broad one with the faceted ability to cull the search results. The descriptions need to specify the language used by the federated site. Thet also need to indicate the last time the federated archive was updated.