RIAN is the outcome of a sectoral higher education project supported by the Irish Government's 'Strategic Innovation Fund'. Project planning was carried out by the seven Irish university libraries, DCU, NUIG, NUIM, TCD, UCC, UCD, UL and was supported by the Irish Universities Association (IUA).
The project aim is to harvest to one portal the contents of the Institutional Repositories of the seven university libraries, in order to make Irish research material more freely accessible, and to increase the research profiles of individual researchers and their institutions. It is intended to extend the harvest to other Irish research institutions as RIAN develops.
The aggregation of this content will have significant benefits. It will be the primary source for Irish Open Access research publications. Jointly agreed metadata standards will facilitate more accurate searching and retrieval. The aggregated content will make further value-added features, such as statistical analysis, possible. RIAN will allow other agencies, for example DRIVER, to harvest normalised metadata for better search results.
RIAN began as an investigation into institutional repositories by the Irish Universities Association Librarians’ Group in 2005. It tasked a sub-group to look at the options and make recommendations. The sub-group advised that a national network of local repositories, with a national harvester to aggregate their content, would comprise the most efficient infrastructure. In 2006, the IUA Librarians successfully applied for support from the Department of Education and Science's Strategic Innovation Fund which is administered by the Higher Education Authority. The group was awarded €1.6 million, half of it to be found in matching funding. The project began in April 2007 and was completed, within its three year schedule, by March 2010.