The OAIster ® database at a glance

OAIster is a union catalog of millions of records that represent open access digital resources. It was built through harvesting from open access collections worldwide using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). Today, OAIster includes more than 50 million records that represent digital resources from more than 2,000 contributors.

Multidisciplinary resources

The records of the open access digital resources available via OAIster lead to a wide range of materials and include:

  • digitized (scanned) books, journal articles, newspapers and manuscripts,
  • digital text,
  • audio files (.wav, mp3),
  • video files (mp4, QuickTime),
  • photographic images (.jpg, .tif, .gif),
  • data sets (downloadable statistical information) and
  • theses and research papers.

History of OAIster

OAIster began at the University of Michigan in 2002 funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Its purpose was to establish a retrieval service for publicly available digital library resources provided by the research library community. During its curation at the University of Michigan, OAIster grew to become one of the world’s largest aggregations of records pointing to open access collections.

In 2009, OCLC formed a partnership with the University of Michigan to provide continued access to open access collections aggregated in OAIster. Since OCLC began managing OAIster, it has grown to include more than 50 million records contributed by 2,000+ organizations. OCLC has evolved OAIster to a model of self-service contribution for all open access digital repositories to ensure the long-term sustainability of this rich collection of open access materials.