First launched in 2009, the Dictionary of Irish Biography (DIB) has moved to an ‘open access’ model making its entire corpus of nearly 11,000 biographical entries freely available to all users for the first time.
Officially launched today (St Patrick's Day, 17 March) by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Mary Canning, president of the Royal Irish Academy, and Kate O’Malley, interim managing editor of the DIB, the DIB is now a fully accessible national, and indeed international, resource that the general public can enjoy alongside students of history at all levels.
Features of the new website include:
- A simple and accessible user interface, with options to browse by entry or contributor, or to search by keyword or using a more granular faceted search.
- Details of all significant revisions to the DIB corpus will be provided from 2021 onward, with links available to previous iterations.
- A blog section featuring themed essays that bring together biographical entries from the DIB’s rich corpus. See, for example, new pieces by DIB researchers Niav Gallagher on the Cathach and Terry Clavin on the Aran Islands.
- Ease of sharing and reproduction: DIB entries can now be shared or used in line with Creative Commons ‘Attribution’ (CC BY 4.0) licencing. In practice this means that DIB entries can be copied or adapted and redistributed in any medium or format. The DIB simply asks that credit is given to the author of the entry and to the DIB itself, that a link is provided to the CC BY licence, and that any changes to the material are noted.
The new DIB open access platform was developed in-house by the Royal Irish Academy IT department, with funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Dublin City Libraries, and pro bono technical and legal support from Ronan O’Sullivan and Mark Rasdale respectively.
The DIB is immensely grateful to its publisher Cambridge University Press for its part in developing and maintaining the DIB’s digital presence from 2009 to 2021. During that time the digital DIB was available to institutions (universities, libraries) to purchase for an annual fee, and was available to Irish secondary schools through Scoilnet.
In advance of the open access launch, the DIB team reached out to as many of its 700-plus contributors as possible to invite updates to their entries, and will be implementing these, and other updates received post-launch, on an ongoing basis.