Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) is the newest member to join the iRODS Consortium, the foundation that leads development and support of the integrated Rule-Oriented Data System (iRODS) data management software.
BAnQ is at once a national library and a national archives, the largest public library in the French-speaking world and a virtual library that is accessible worldwide. With its 12 facilities located throughout Québec (Canada), BAnQ receives over 2.3 million visits per year while its Web portal receives over 7.6 million hits.
BAnQ, whose mandate is to serve the people of Québec and raise the profile of Québec's heritage materials throughout the world, provides online access to a great number of its services and collections.
iRODS is free open source software for data virtualization, data discovery, workflow automation, and secure collaboration used by research and business organizations around the globe. iRODS allows users to catalog all of their data and metadata into a unified namespace, and then automate their data management through an integrated rules engine.
"The data discovery, policy enforcement, and data virtualization features of iRODS are especially valuable for organizations like BAnQ, whose users want to find what they're looking for but do not need to know where data is stored or how it is organized behind the scenes," said Jason Coposky, Executive Director, iRODS Consortium. "BAnQ is in good company with other large-scale archival applications of iRODS, which have included the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration and the National Library of France. We look forward to working together to further extend iRODS' capability to support the preservation of historic records."
BAnQ technology specialists intend to use iRODS to support an ambitious records digitization program that aims to digitize the entire published and archival documentary heritage produced within or in relation to Québec since the 17th century. The collection, which will be made available to the public free of charge, includes a vast array of printed and handwritten material, photographs, sound recordings and other items. The collection is expected to reach 12 petabytes of data by 2025 and will likely continue to grow after that.
"Data management is imperative in a digital preservation system," said André Parent, IT analyst in the Mission and Information Systems Department at BAnQ. "The system must support a high volume of data, preserve data and its integrity, and enable users to retrieve the data. Having iRODS in our preservation system allows us to manage replicas, retrieve data through metadata, increase security and check and repair data, along with other features that are important to support our staff and the functioning of our applications."
BAnQ's digital preservation system is based on the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) model. Parent noted that using open source software is considered a best practice for OAIS and is particularly important for projects like preservation systems that are expected to operate for many years.
The iRODS Consortium guides development and support of iRODS, along with providing production-ready iRODS distribution and iRODS professional integration services, training, and support. As a Consortium member, BAnQ will receive consulting and training from iRODS experts.
"iRODS is appealing to us because of its maturity and solid community," said Parent. "We want to become an active member in order to share knowledge and support others in the community."
The iRODS Consortium is administered by founding member RENCI, a research institute for applications of cyberinfrastructure located at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Current members of the iRODS Consortium, in addition to BAnQ, include Agriculture Victoria, Bayer, Cloudian, University of Colorado, Boulder, DataDirect Networks, KU Leuven, Maastricht University, MSC, the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NetApp, OpenIO, Quantum, RENCI, SURF, the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing, SUSE, Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), University College London, University of Groningen, Utrecht University, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Western Digital, and three additional anonymous members.