Young helps ibiblio aim for the clouds

Staff WriterSeptember 18, 2010 

Bob Young, whose passion for online publishing and free Internet content is hardly a secret, has committed more of his fortune to the cause.

Young has donated $50,000 to ibiblio, the online library and digital archive based at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Young became wealthy as the founder and former CEO of Red Hat, the Raleigh-based Linux software company. He now runs Lulu.com, another Raleigh company that sells e-books and helps authors self-publish their works.

He has long ties to ibiblio and previously has provided financial support to the archive. His latest gift came through the Triangle Community Foundation on behalf of Lulu.

Ibiblio plans to use the money to shift to so-called cloud-based computing systems, director Paul Jones said. That's where data are stored virtually via the Internet, instead of requiring ibiblio to have a massive collection of its own servers.

"We want to have cheaper, faster and more flexible" data storage and processing power, Jones said. Young's latest gift "is particularly important for us at a time when state money is tight and we want to make some rational, longer-term business choices."

Jones said he had several conversations with Young about the initial investment ibiblio needs to embrace cloud computing, and he responded.

Ibiblio will celebrate its 18th anniversary next month and has expanded to become one of the world's largest collections of freely available content, including software, music, literature, art, science and cultural studies.

Young first provided support in the 1990s when ibiblio was known as SunSITE and when Red Hat was just starting out and had four employees, Jones said.

"The value of ibiblio is that it stores content and cultural icons that people don't know how to monetize," Young said in a prepared statement. "Without storing such content, they may disappear from human experience."

alan.wolf@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4572

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