As part of a new partnership between ITS and the School of Information and Library Science, ITS Research Computing has begun provisioning and managing the infrastructure of digital archive ibiblio.

ITS Research Computing took on this work with ibiblio.org in May. People all over the world take advantage of ibiblio’s hosting and sharing services. It is one of ITS’ largest network customers, reaching millions of users every day.

Was one of the world’s first online libraries

Ibiblio was founded at UNC-Chapel Hill in September 2000 as one of the world’s first online libraries and a way to share and support all kinds of free software. It has origins in SunSITE, a networked collection of publicly available resources that was managed at UNC-Chapel Hill by the Office of Information Technology, a predecessor to ITS. Ibiblio took advantage of information discovery and retrieval tools of the time while the team supported the development of Unix workstations across campus.

Paul Jones, the director of ibiblio.org and a clinical professor the School of Information and Library Science, has been instrumental in the formation and evolution of the service. He began his journey at UNC-Chapel Hill as an IBM systems programmer 40 years ago.

Non-commercial materials that further the teaching, research or public service mission of UNC-Chapel Hill are eligible to be contributed to the catalog. Copyright clearance must be demonstrated, and Creative Commons licensing is promoted.

Michael Barker

Partnering was a natural fit

Ibiblio’s new closer relationship with Research Computing, Jones said, brings “access to new minds trying to solve new problems in new ways by working with real professionals who really know what they’re doing and are willing to take risk and accept failure as part of the learning.”

ITS Research Computing is excited to engage more with information sciences, said Michael Barker, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Computing. Working with digital archive ibiblio is “very natural for us” and is “where we see us going as a broader institution scoped across the full breadth of research and scholarly disciplines,” he said.

ITS has been lucky to find and work with great partners across the University, of which “ibiblio is certainly an extraordinary example,” said Chris Kielt, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer. “We thank you, Paul, for your trust and your partnership.”

Provides a variety of open-source materials

Digital archive ibiblio provides a diverse range of open-source materials, including software and music, and collections of literature, art, history, science, politics and cultural studies. The site has been called a collection of collections and is perhaps best-known for Linux distributions used by software programmers and high-profile projects such as Project Gutenberg, etree music sharing and Roger McGuinn’s Folk Den.

Paul Jones headshot
Paul Jones

Examples of projects initiated at UNC-Chapel Hill and supported by Jones and his staff: an early WordPress multi-site installation called Lyceum (supported along with OASIS); one of the first websites in unc.edu; and the invention of streaming radio, first done with campus station WXYC.

“Ibiblio is in a unique position of being able to use its collections, its history of collaboration, its history of openness and open access to help educate people and provide research opportunities,” Jones said.

“Ibiblio reaches not just the campus but it helps the campus reach the world and it hosts parts of the world reaching other parts of the world,” Jones said. “What ibiblio does is helps people who wish to share their material legally and freely share it with others.”

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