Online Heritage Resource Manager (OHRM)
- What is the OHRM?
- What will the end product will look like?
- OHRM Availability
What is the OHRM?: how it works, what it produces and what other technologies are used to complement it
The eScholarship Research Centre’s Online Heritage Resource Manager (OHRM) has emerged from more than 20 years research and development, producing a wide variety of scholarly public knowledge resources.
Notable projects using this architecture include:
- Find & Connect
- The Australian Women's Register
- The Australian Dictionary of Biography Online
- EGold: Electronic Encyclopedia of Gold in Australia
(View a longer list of web resources that utilise the OHRM on our Key Resources page).
The OHRM is a contextual information framework mapping system that integrates information from a wide range of sources – archival and published material, photographs, audio and video. The system maps and manages highly complex networks of entities and relationships, presenting these as static and dynamic HTML pages, typically in the form of online encyclopedias or registers.
A register entry forms an authoritative (researcher contributed) base point that can grow over time and be complemented by community input via contributions in the form of commenting or submitting further information. New information and source materials can easily be added to the system and entries republished simply and efficiently.
At present the data ingest and preservation elements of the OHRM run out of a Microsoft Access backend, complemented by Solr, PostgreSQL and (on the web server) PHP searches. The system allows for full XML output and systematic version control, with the master data preserved offline, on mirrored servers at the University’s data centre. Data from Access is exported to Postgres and the web server, creating a dissemination copy separate from the preservation environment, in compliance with the Open Archives Information Systems (OAIS) model. Users access this data through template-driven static and dynamic HTML output (dynamic searches using PostgreSQL) generated from the preserved OHRM master data and disseminated via the web. As all these activities operate independently, and are geographically distributed, we can ensure redundancy against system failure at each stage of the process – ingest; preservation; and dissemination. This framework has been used continually since 1994 without any irretrievable data loss or corruption.
In several current projects we run WordPress blogs and incorporate blog feeds into the project’s home page. We currently run Solr searches on sites hosted by the ESRC (e.g. Find and Connect), Google Custom Search and Zoom search on sites hosted externally, e.g. The Australian Women's Register and the Australian Trade Union Archives. We have trialled GentleSource Comments on the Australian Women's Register. The Australian Women’s Register and the Encyclopedia of Australian Science have OAI-PMH repositories, from which data is regularly harvested by Trove, the National Library of Australia’s national discovery service. This is facilitated through the OHRM’s data export capability, as EAC-XML to the National Library’s data exchange, or for transformation to RDS.
These are the platforms we are experienced in using and can provide stable, reliable outcomes. As a research and service group, the ESRC are committed to investigating and improving our systems. We are heading in the direction of a web services environment, and away from the Access database backend, as far as the OHRM goes. We are also currently investigating the use of Omeka ('a free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions') as a repository for OHRM generated data, which could bring another layer of interactivity to our OHRM-based projects. If, after further investigation, we feel they offer a reliable alternative to the current proposed platform for the website.
Typically, the ESRC maintains an ongoing relationship with clients using the OHRM system. This includes regular transfers of their ingest and preservation data and associated files to the ESRC. We keep a back up of each. We would also hand over the OHRM and all associated data files at the end of the project and train relevant candidates in its use. In order to maintain data quality, the APC or its delegates should continue to add to the data (through the OHRM system) if and when new information comes to hand. We expect that this will be the case. After handover, the OHRM system should be managed in line with APC policies for digital data. We backup our WordPress databases separately and can advise on that if necessary.
What will the end product look like?
Typically, OHRM output consists of encyclopedic-like entries on people, organisations and broad concepts (places, events and so on), accompanied by links to other relevant entries within the OHRM, including archival and bibliographic references and digital resources (such as multipage digitised documents, images, sound files, movies). Selected (or all) digital resources, such as images, can also be highlighted to form a ‘gallery’ related to an entry. See:
- Encyclopedia of Australian Science, biographical entry for Phillip Garth Law
- EGOLD, entry for the Ballarat Reform League
The Australian Women's Register adds another thematic layer over their data via associated exhibitions, see:
Where the image of Alisa Camplin in the gallery leads you back to the Register entry for that image, then back to the entry for Alisa Camplin - in a different context, for example, specifically sport, rather than Australian women, this would also be linked back to an entry on snow jumping.
We manage multimedia elements as digital objects in their own right, mapped contextually within the framework of the broader histories we document. See:
- She's Game, Extracts of Interview with Barbara De Franceschi (audio recording)
- EGOLD, Video, The Australian Sketchbook (Australian Views)
(Explore a longer list of web resources that utilise the OHRM on our Key Resources page).
Our newer websites are optimised to be print friendly. See:
- Find and Connect Victoria, entry for Convent of the Good Shepherd, Abbotsford (click on print preview from your browser menu)
We don't have the mechanism to create books from OHRM data at this time. The need has not arisen yet, but it is something we have envisioned. We have used Open Journal Systems ('An open source journal management and publishing system') to publish a collection of papers, as pdfs, from the University of Melbourne History Conference and Seminar series, concurrently in hard copy as print-on-demand using the University Bookshop’s expresso book machine. See:
- Evangelists of Empire? Missionaries in Colonial History, and
- Melbourne University Bookshop eBook catalogue, entry for Evangelists of Empire?
We will be using Open Journal Systems again as part of the Australian Women and Leadership project to publish a collection of papers, and we are investigating alternative methods for extracting OHRM data and repurposing for hard copy publishing as an Encyclopedia of Australian Women Leaders. Again, as stated previously, in relation to the possible use of Omeka, we would report on these findings for consideration as a complementary publishing platform to the online model proposed.
The ESRC hosts works for University of Melbourne clients and other affiliated ARC grant-funded university projects. The ESRC server framework is hosted in the award-winning University of Melbourne data centres. The framework has been engineered for 24/7 dual redundancy performance. Our preference is to use our server framework for development, testing and records storage during the course of the project, while making the work in progress available through our development and testing hosting environment.
Upon completion and handover, external projects like the Australian Women' s Register are hosted by the stakeholder groups themselves, for example, through external web hosts, such as Bluehost (as with the Australian Women’s Register). Where appropriate and possible, we deploy the public services in the cloud - ‘Blue Host’, or the server provider of the client’s choosing. The final location of the public services is agreed on with relevant stakeholders during the course of a project.
OHRM AvailabilityThe OHRM is available under license at no cost for non-commercial, heritage and public good purposes. Contact the eScholarship Resource Centre for more information about the latest version of the OHRM.
PapersFor more information on the OHRM, its conceptual underpinnings and development plans, please explore the following papers:
- McCarthy, Gavan, 'Engineering Utility: A Visionary Role For Encoded Archival Authority Information In Managing Virtual And Physical Resources', paper presented at AusWeb99, the Fifth Australian World Wide Web Conference, April 1999.
- McCarthy, Gavan, 'Heritage and the Internet - Encoding Context Objects: Using Knowledge to Reduce Risks', paper presented at the Australian Society of Archivists 1999 Conference, Brisbane, July 1999.
- McCarthy, Gavan, 'Utilizing the Web to build a network of archival authority records', Janus, vol. 1999.1, pp. 96-107.
- Evans, Joanne, 'Exploring Bright Sparcs: creation of a navigable knowledge space', paper presented at Charting the Information Universe, 13th National Cataloguing Conference, Brisbane, 13-15 October, 1999.