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Honors Finalist, Education and Academia: School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

An eclectic mix of digital content, managed by its contributors, helps advance information sharing.

By Mary K. Pratt
June 6, 2005 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Ibiblio has been a leader in cyberspace for some time. Started as Sunsite.unc.edu in 1992 and housed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ibiblio is a contributor-run digital library whose eclectic collection of material remains a standout on the Internet.
Ibiblio's diverse mix is more than a curiosity, though. It advances the sharing of information.
"Our goal is to facilitate the distribution of knowledge to the people of North Carolina and, as far as possible, the people of the world," says Paul Jones, Ibiblio's director and a clinical associate professor at UNC's School of Information and Library Science.
Today, Ibiblio has more than 1,500 collections of sharable information, distributes over a terabyte of open-source and free software, and handles more than 12 million requests daily from people downloading software, listening to music and reading Web pages.
Ibiblio also plays a significant role in research and innovation. For example, it pioneered Internet radio in 1994 by putting online a digitized simulcast of WXYC, UNC's student radio station.
These advances have come with challenges. For example, Jones has to handle claims of copyright violations, and while true violations have been few, he says, dealing with false claims is time-consuming.
None of this, however, is hindering Ibiblio's present or future. Jones says Ibiblio will continue to evolve as demands for information change. And how it looks in 10 years will undoubtedly be different, he says, because technology will change. But, he adds, the principles that have shaped Ibiblio so far -- a dedication to freely sharing information at a site managed by contributors -- will remain.

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