In the situation you describe I don’t think it really matters whether you expose already deleted records as “deleted” or simply never include them. In either case a downstream harvest will correctly not include the records.
The focus of the protocol is synchronization of a harvested copy of metadata records rather than description of the history.
Just one word of warning, however. You mention sets and I note that OAI-PMH has a “bug” in its design in that items moving in an out of sets cannot be tracked properly. The notion of deleted is in relation to the records independent of set membership.
I have a question about the meaning of 'deleted' status, please.
Does it mean that the record was deleted since the previous publishing, or it just says that the record is not available now?
This question comes for a record on an existing set, which was marked as unavailable record since the set creation. (it already was an unavailable record before the first publishing of the set)
Should this record be published as deleted, or not be published at all?
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