COVAX: A contemporary culture virtual archive in XML

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The objectives of the EU-funded COVAX project are: • to build a web service for search and retrieval of contemporary European cultural documents from memory institutions. • to make existing library, archive and museum document descriptions accessible over the Internet. • to assist memory institutions to provide access to their collections, regardless of document type or collection size. • to implement standards and achieve interoperability between retrieval systems operating in the cultural heritage area. Partners in the project include technology developers and providers (public research organizations and private companies) and content owners (memory institutions). The content owners have collections of varying type and size, catalogued using a variety of library, museum and archiving systems. The project is assessing ways to improve access to these collections by converting samples of existing data into a limited set of common structured formats, each of which can be expressed using XML (eXtensible Markup Language). According to the philosophy adopted by the project, future catalogs for libraries, museums and archives will be stored in a variety of XML formats instead of proprietary formats, or formats such as MARC which have not gained wide acceptance outside of their development context. Since much material is already described in machine-readable form, the project worked on developing tools to convert such descriptions to XML and to integrate them with native XML data in order to build user-friendly websites and data archives. A comprehensive set of documents for the implementation of the prototype was selected. It contains a wide variety of documents, descriptions, formats and databases: standard and non-standard bibliographic records (including five different MARC formats), and four different structures for archive and museum finding aids and information in six different languages (Catalan, Italian, English, German, Spanish, Swedish). COVAX partners have implemented two different database models: ad hoc XML databases, or existing non-XML repositories. In the latter case, information is retrieved from the original database and transformed into XML format before presenting it to users. To summarize, COVAX is not only incorporating XML as a basic standard but also integrating other standards, and adapting them to XML. COVAX partners have implemented XML repositories using two software packages, Tamino from Software AG, a COVAX technical partner and TeXtML from IXIAsoft. Sites have been established in London, Rome, Salzburg, Graz and Madrid. COVAX will test the benefits of XML to encode and process cultural heritage information, explore the feasibility of converting existing cultural heritage descriptions into XML encoded information, adapt cultural information systems to user requirements and contribute to the extension of standards for presentation and dissemination of cultural heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Event6th European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries, ECDL 2002 - Rome, Italy
Duration: 1 Jan 2002 → …


Conference6th European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries, ECDL 2002
Period1/1/02 → …


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)

Cite this

Bordoni, L. (2002). COVAX: A contemporary culture virtual archive in XML. Paper presented at 6th European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries, ECDL 2002, Rome, Italy.