Texas Digital Library Conference System, 2014 Texas Conference on Digital Libraries

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What’s Good for the Large Hadron Collider Is Good for Libraries: REDDnet at Texas Tech University
Jim Brewer, Jayne Sappington, Alan Tackett

Last modified: 2014-03-27


Over the last three years, the Texas Tech University (TTU) Libraries and the Research and Education Data Depot Network (REDDnet) have collaborated on a project to deliver a system that provides library data preservation and continuous access to digital information in research collections. TTU identified a need for Business Continuity when the University lost Internet access for an entire day. During that time Distance Students lost access to library services including digital resources.

REDDnet, developed under a National Science Foundation-funded infrastructure project at Vanderbilt University, provides storage capabilities with geographically distributed servers called depots that make use of Internet data striping with fault tolerant design. Members of the Advanced Computing Center for Research & Education (ACCRE) at Vanderbilt University have provided Librarians at TTU with tools that allow their MediaWiki environment to make use of REDDnet services and functions while keeping the off-the-shelf tools employed in MediaWiki unchanged. As a result, digital collections are provided with a robust mix of access, archive and business continuity support running under the same services that scientists use at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project working with either the LHC CMS or ATLAS experiments. MediaWiki is the open source toolset that drives Wikipedia and many other large services running on the Internet. TTU is using the MediaWiki service to provide access to a historical collection of images and data about sailing ships as well as to volumes of the University yearbooks.

The collaboration is built upon a design by the TTU Digital Library Unit which chose to use MediaWiki. This presentation will cover the use of MediaWiki as tool for providing access to digital data, the basic functionality of REDDnet as system for supporting access and management of large datasets, and the interface between MediaWiki and REDDnet which allows these systems to perform exceptionally well together. Vanderbilt presenters will give an overview of the history of the REDDnet project and illustrate the design features through the use of a system at an academic library. The wider use of REDDnet in the physics community, where the project was originally designed, will be covered as well as other projects and communities currently able to benefit from its capabilities. Future directions for REDDnet will also be covered.

The TTU and Vanderbilt collaboration has addressed key issues in the library environment: geographic distribution of systems to provide reliability and fault tolerance, archiving and preservation, and business continuity. These issues continue to remain areas of active development in nearly all library circles. Here the presenters offer a flexible set of ideas for handling the challenges which many libraries already face on a daily basis.


distributed file systems; data preservation; data archiving; Internet striping; REDDnet; Texas Tech University; Vanderbilt University; MediaWiki