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    The definition of the open library

    An open library is a collection of data records that has the following characteristics:

    • Every record is identified by a unique handle. This requirement distinguishes the library from an archive. It allows for every record to be addressed in an unambiguous way. This is important if links between records are to be established.

    • The syntax in all records of field names and field values is homogeneous. This constraint causes the open library to appear like a database. If this requirement were not present, all public access pages on the Web would form an open library. Note that this requirement does not constrain the open library to contain a homogeneous record format.

    • The documentation of the record format is available for online public access. For example, a collection encoded in MARC format would not qualify as an open library because access to the documentation of MARC is restricted. Without this requirement the cost of acquiring the documentation would be an obstacle to participation.

    • The collection is accessible on a public access computer system. This is the precondition to allow for the construction of user services. Note that user services may not necessarily be open to public access.

    • Contributing to the collection is without monetary cost. There are of course non-monetary costs to contribute to the open library. However the general principle is that there is no need to pay for either contributing or using the library. The copyright status of data in an open library should be subject to further research.