The project

Since late 2007, a small team in the National Library's Systems Department has been working to make hundreds of thousands of records for Irish manuscripts and periodicals freely searchable online.

King's Digital Consultancy Services worked with the Library in planning the project. They also provided support throughout, working with the Centre for Computing in the Humanities (CCH) in King's College London. The data from the analogue records was rekeyed and encoded in Chennai, India, by AELData, using XML (Extensible Markup Language) conforming to the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS), a standard maintained by the Library of Congress. In the source material, identical records are replicated under multiple index headings. After the initial encoding of over 600,000 records, a major project deliverable was matching and unification within this data, creating a smaller subset of records with multiple index headings. The specification of the metadata schema and the methodology for scripted unification was developed through an iterative process involving the NLI team, CCH, and AELData.

Since April 2009, the project team, with input and support from a working group made up of staff from across the Library, have worked to deliver this data online. Considerable work has been carried out on correcting and enhancing the data, with iterations and revisions of MODS files managed using Subversion, an Open Source version control system. In preparation for online delivery, the MODS data elements in each Sources record were mapped to those in MARC 21 (the worldwide library cataloguing standard), via MARCXML, using Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT)

The selection of Open Source products has been carried through into the delivery system. The Sources interface is powered by VuFind, a library resource portal designed and developed for libraries by libraries, and records are indexed using Solr, a scalable enterprise search server. The use of these systems has facilitated the in-house development, extension and customisation of functionality, in line with the requirements identified through a functional requirements exercise carried out with NLI staff in late 2008.

If you have any questions, let us know