Dramatic advances in information technology means the National Library of Ireland is driving forward a programme of metadata creation, digitisation, digital preservation and online access to our cultural heritage. That’s according to Sara Smyth, NLI Digitisation Programme Manager speaking at the launch of 10,500 newly digitised items released by the National Library of Ireland (NLI)
Ms Smyth highlighted the importance of having an effective national programme of digitisation and preservation to ensure public access to culturally important collections.
“Libraries have always collected, managed and provided access to all forms of information,” she said. “Since 2010, we have overhauled our digitisation workflows and put in place key technical infrastructures. We achieved this with limited full time technical resources and a very restricted budget by collaborating on international open source projects.”
The NLI helped lead development of the VuFind Discovery Interface, an open source discovery interface which is used by hundreds of libraries around the world to provide access to research materials. VuFind has seen rapid adoption by several large consortia, as well as national, public and academic libraries in 26 countries on five continents. The success of this project was recognised nationally when the NLI received the first eGovernment Open Source Award in 2011.
Ms Smyth continued, “Through this collaboration we enhanced our catalogue, giving researchers seamless access to high-quality digital content from any device, anywhere, and enabling them to zoom into the smallest detail of these remarkable items. The ability to regularly deliver large quantities of new digital content to our audiences is the culmination of seven years of hard work by the NLI’s team, with much more to come in the years ahead.”
The 10,500 newly digitised items includes a portrait of the infamous Ellen Byrne, who was tried for her husband’s murder in 1842 after his badly decomposed body was found in their shared bed; photographs of 1916 leader Tom Clarke, his wife Kathleen and family; and posters documenting the suffragette movement. This new release means that a total of 63,000 items that tell the story of Ireland are now freely available worldwide through the National Library catalogue.
Speaking at the launch of the new additions to NLI’s digital resources today, Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, said, “The National Library of Ireland holds collections that are of great national significance. The newly digitised collections chart the story of Ireland and are a wonderful piece of our cultural and literary heritage which will now be preserved for and made accessible to the people of Ireland for generations. Furthermore, it showcases once again Ireland’s growing reputation as a centre for the innovative use of digital technology.”
Further information about the NLI is available at: www.nli.ie.