‘Strategy has proven extremely successful’
The National Library of Ireland is using free and open source software where possible. The public institute also encourages code contributions of IT staff members to open source software development projects.
“The strategic decision to participate in open source has proven extremely successful”, the NLI writes in a briefing document. “It enables the NLI to put in place the core components of a modern digital library infrastructure despite a small technical team."
Open source is used in all parts of the NLI’s digital library infrastructure. Linux systems are used for web services, for middleware systems and for managing digital assets. The state-funded organisation also uses open source development and testing tools.
The NLI says that using and contributing to open source is a key means of delivering its services: collecting, preserving and making accessible collections of national significance. “By using open source, the NLI benefits from the resources and expertise of countless developers and domain experts worldwide”, the government-funded institute writes in its briefing document.
The NLI is contributing to the development of an open source digital repository system, based on two management solutions for digital asset, Hydra and Fedora Repository. “These allow the NLI to ensure the long-term management and preservation of over 40 Terabytes of digitised material, and to tackling the complex task of collecting ‘born digital’ collection material in the future.”
The National Library is also involved in the development of the VuFind search engine, “now used by thousands of libraries around the world”. For its contributions to VuFind, the NLI was awarded Ireland’s first ever eGov Open Source Award in 2011.
This year, NLI was again nominated for the award, for its Parish Registers at the NLI’ project. The library is making available online its collection of microfilms dating from the 1950s and 1960s. These contain records of baptisms and marriages from almost all Catholic parishes in Ireland and Northern Ireland from the 1740s to the 1880s.