The Fantasy Books that Inspired Dungeons & Dragons

By Jim Nelson

Gary Gygax playing a game of D&D
Gary Gygax playing Dungeons & Dragons, the fantasy role playing game he co-created in 1974.

In a time when many of us are being asked to shelter in place and work from home, a hearty reading list can be invaluable. One intriguing list I recently rediscovered was drawn up by the late E. Gary Gygax toward the end of the 1970s. While formalizing the advanced rule set for Dungeons & Dragons, a game he created with Dave Arneson, Gygax added an appendix to his Dungeon Master’s Guide listing the books that inspired him to create his fantasy role-playing game. “Upon such a base I built my interest in fantasy,” Gygax wrote, “being an avid reader of all science fiction and fantasy literature since 1950.” Over the years this reading list has become so well-known in the role-playing world that it’s merely referred to as Appendix N. Now the Internet Archive has created an online collection of Gygax’s famous list.

If you’re unfamiliar with Dungeons & Dragons, it’s a role-playing game set in a universe of sorcerers, elves, dragons, and dank underground lairs. While D&D’s fantasy world might sound like J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Gygax’s Appendix N shows he drew from a wide field of fantasy and science-fiction authors: R. E. Howard (creator of Conan), H. P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber (whom it’s believed coined the phrase “sword & sorcery”), Michael Moorcock, and yes, J. R. R. Tolkien. Some names on the list might surprise you, such as Leigh Brackett, whose screenwriting credits include the film noir The Big Sleep and John Wayne’s Rio Bravo. (Gygax probably included her for her planetary romances set on Mars, however.) Others would have faded into obscurity if not for Gygax’s list.

Forty years after it was published, Appendix N has taken on a life of its own within the role-playing community. Gygax’s list has been studied, dissected, and emulated. There’s even an Appendix N Book Club. Blogger James Maliszewski called Appendix N the “literary DNA” of D&D.

Borrow the books that inspired Dungeons & Dragons for free here.

If you’re interested in expanding your diet of fantasy books, or you’re curious where the D&D phenomenon all started, you’re in luck. Internet Archive has many of the books on Gygax’s reading list available for borrowing. When Gygax was asked in 2007 if he would change any of the selections, he replied, “I wouldn’t change the list much, other than to add a couple of novels.” Internet Archive has a few of those later additions available as well. Happy reading!

Gygax’s original Appendix N list:

Gygax’s 2007 additions:

Jim Nelson is a science fiction reader & writer, in addition to being one of the Internet Archive’s core engineers. Prior to joining the Internet Archive, Jim was lead engineer and Executive Director of the Yorba Foundation, an open-source nonprofit. Jim also writes books and short fiction, including the dystopian novel “Bridge Daughter.” You can read more at j-nelson.net.

When school’s out, what will we learn?

More than 100 countries have closed their schools, including 43 states in the U.S.

Forty years ago as a freshman, I pulled my first book off the shelves of Hayden Library at MIT. This month, every MIT undergraduate departed from campus in an attempt to contain COVID-19, leaving behind the vast resources of that library. Ready or not, we are all being thrust into an enormous experiment in online learning. One that can have positive and permanent outcomes, if we handle it right.

With schools closing from Changshu to Cambridge, suddenly students are cut off from the physical resources they rely on: the teachers, the classrooms and libraries that are the backbone of learning. And in this flux, those in marginalized communities—from rural areas without broadband or schools with few online books—are even more profoundly challenged. The Economist reports that in the United states, “7 million school-age children cannot access the internet at home.”

“If this is just a prolonged pause in our education and economy, without the benefits of learning and adapting, one of the most profound impacts of COVID-19 may be…a “quiet brain drain.” It will be time our children never get back.”

But here’s the good news: we know how to do this, to impart knowledge at scale over the Internet. Online courses, online libraries and broadband all exist—but we need to expand and upgrade them to meet the needs of the close to one billion learners around the world whose classrooms have been shuttered.

24 years ago, I founded the Internet Archive as a nonprofit digital library serving more than a million learners every day. Today, the Internet Archive is working with hundreds of public, school and university libraries to digitize their core collections and make them freely available over the Internet. Even as MIT was sending students home, we were working with MIT Libraries to see how many of their books we have already digitized. In 24 hours, we were able to hand them back 166,000 digitized books to lend online through their catalogue and via archive.org. This week, the Internet Archive created a National Emergency Library of 1.4 million digitized books to serve the needs of students, educators and learners who can now access them from home.

At archive.org/nel or OpenLibrary.org, you can borrow 1.4 million digitized books for free during the COVID-19 crisis.

Think of this as a huge experiment. In one big push, we can improve online learning and its infrastructure in a way that may otherwise have taken years. This crisis encourages universities to be bold, to make investments that ultimately may mean many more students can benefit. Perhaps 500 undergraduates can fill a hall at MIT, but how many millions can take an online MIT course, once the books, materials and lessons are online?

China is a few weeks ahead of the United States when it comes to experimenting with online learning. In January, my son, Caslon, was teaching English to 4th graders in Changshu. Now he is teaching them from San Francisco, with recorded lessons and online interaction. Next month, his school in China is poised to reopen, but I suspect it will be forever changed.

If this is just a prolonged pause in our education and economy, without the benefits of learning and adapting, one of the most profound impacts of COVID-19 may be what Dr. Kate Tairyan, Chief Medical Officer of the online college NextGenU.org, calls a “quiet brain drain.” It will be time our children never get back.

But we have the opportunity to harness American ingenuity to build a stronger, more robust educational system—by leveraging the Internet, new technologies, and our investments in digitizing books at scale into something that democratizes learning for a generation to come.

Brewster Kahle is the founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. A passionate advocate for public Internet access and a successful entrepreneur, he has spent his career intent on a singular focus: providing Universal Access to All Knowledge. Kahle graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied artificial intelligence.

Internet Archive Staff and Covid-19: Work-at-Home for Most, Full-Pay Furlough & Medical for Scanners

This is an unsettling time, and the Internet Archive has been working with staff, partner libraries, and patron communities to weather this storm.

Our staff and community is core of who we are– we are not the data, we are people. We care deeply and have been taking the following steps to support staff.

Most of the Internet Archive staff now work at home– this is going well: zoom, slack, jitsi, whereby, google docs, broadband– the miracles of our Internet world make this possible.  Fortunately, we had already become a largely distributed staff because of prices in San Francisco and our interest in engaging the best people we could no matter where they live.

For the 50 book scan center staff that work in libraries that are now closed, we do not have enough productive remote work and no paid work. (Libraries paying for our scanning services is a major source of earned income for the Internet Archive.) For these important employees we are leveraging government assistance to accomplish a furlough for 3 months at regular pay with medical benefits. So our scanners are safe, not working, and paid.

Figuring out how to do this in England, the US, and Canada, has been challenging especially trying to leverage ever-changing government subsidies.  Fortunately England announced added help for furloughed workers, and the United States seems to be working on expanded benefits. We always look to save money but we will make sure our furloughed employees are fully paid with medical during this period in any case. We have made sure they are safe now and that they know we want them to come back to work.

For the few that will not have jobs after the lights come back on, based on org changes, we have supported them at a higher level than those on furlough to help them through this time and relaunch.

To pay for these measures, we have gotten some donations and some employees have offered to work 4 days a week for the coming months to help, but it will hurt. Your support is most welcome.

Thankfully, so far, the libraries that support us are planning to restart scanning when it is safe to do so. Based on the now-apparent need to digitize modern books for remote digital access, we hope more libraries will support our scanning services.  

With strong staff and partnerships we can grow to produce new services that are appropriate for these times such as the National Emergency Library that is now lending books to thousands of displaced students.

Thank you for your support and stay safe.

Announcing a National Emergency Library to Provide Digitized Books to Students and the Public

To address our unprecedented global and immediate need for access to reading and research materials, as of today, March 24, 2020, the Internet Archive will suspend waitlists for the 1.4 million (and growing) books in our lending library by creating a National Emergency Library to serve the nation’s displaced learners. This suspension will run through June 30, 2020, or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later. 

During the waitlist suspension, users will be able to borrow books from the National Emergency Library without joining a waitlist, ensuring that students will have access to assigned readings and library materials that the Internet Archive has digitized for the remainder of the US academic calendar, and that people who cannot physically access their local libraries because of closure or self-quarantine can continue to read and thrive during this time of crisis, keeping themselves and others safe.  

This library brings together all the books from Phillips Academy Andover and Marygrove College, and much of Trent University’s collections, along with over a million other books donated from other libraries to readers worldwide that are locked out of their libraries.

This is a response to the scores of inquiries from educators about the capacity of our lending system and the scale needed to meet classroom demands because of the closures. Working with librarians in Boston area, led by Tom Blake of Boston Public Library, who gathered course reserves and reading lists from college and school libraries, we determined which of those books the Internet Archive had already digitized.  Through that work we quickly realized that our lending library wasn’t going to scale to meet the needs of a global community of displaced learners. To make a real difference for the nation and the world, we would have to take a bigger step.

“The library system, because of our national emergency, is coming to aid those that are forced to learn at home, ” said Brewster Kahle, Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. “This was our dream for the original Internet coming to life: the Library at everyone’s fingertips.”

Public support for this emergency measure has come from over 100 individuals, libraries and universities across the world, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  “Ubiquitous access to open digital content has long been an important goal for MIT and MIT Libraries. Learning and research depend on it,” said Chris Bourg, Director of MIT Libraries. “In a global pandemic, robust digital lending options are key to a library’s ability to care for staff and the community, by allowing all of us to work remotely and maintain the recommended social distancing.”

We understand that we’re not going to be able to meet everyone’s needs; our collection, at 1.4 million modern books, is a fraction of the size of a large metropolitan library system or a great academic library. The books that we’ve digitized have been acquired with a focus on materials published during the 20th century, the vast majority of which do not have a commercially available ebook.  This means that while readers and students are able to access latest best sellers and popular titles through services like OverDrive and Hoopla, they don’t have access to the books that only exist in paper, sitting inaccessible on their library shelves. That’s where our collection fits in—we offer digital access to books, many of which are otherwise unavailable to the public while our schools and libraries are closed. In addition to the National Emergency Library, the Internet Archive also offers free public access to 2.5 million fully downloadable public domain books, which do not require waitlists to view.

We recognize that authors and publishers are going to be impacted by this global pandemic as well. We encourage all readers who are in a position to buy books to do so, ideally while also supporting your local bookstore. If they don’t have the book you need, then Amazon or Better World Books may have copies in print or digital formats. We hope that authors will support our effort to ensure temporary access to their work in this time of crisis. We are empowering authors to explicitly opt in and donate books to the National Emergency Library if we don’t have a copy. We are also making it easy for authors to contact us to take a book out of the library. Learn more in our FAQ.

A final note on calling this a “National Emergency” Library.  We lend to the world, including these books. We chose that language deliberately because we are pegging the suspension of the waitlists to the duration of the US national emergency.  Users all over the world have equal access to the books now available, regardless of their location.

How you can help:

  1. Read books, recommend books, and teach using books from the National Emergency Library
  2. Sponsor a book to be digitized and preserved
  3. Endorse this effort institutionally or individually
  4. Share news about the National Emergency Library with your social media followers using #NationalEmergencyLibrary
  5. Donate to the Internet Archive

If you have additional questions, please check out our FAQ or contact Chris Freeland, Director of Open Libraries.

Love, Loss, and Archives

By Paul Lindner

From the memorial site I built for my wife, Julie Lindner. https://julieslife.com/.

And so it feels like she is slipping away from me a second time: first I lose her in the present, then I lose her in the past. Memory — the mind’s photographic archive — is failing.”

— Julian Barnes,  Levels of Life

I lost my sweet, vibrant, lovely wife Julie to breast cancer last December.

Determined to not lose her a second time, I turned to over 27 years of personal and public archives to create a memorial site. Julie’s escapades and adventures would not be forgotten. Fortunately our journey began online, over email.

Back in 1992, Julie and I met on a mailing list, GRUNGE-L. I noticed she was from Minnesota and so was I. Asked if she’d be up to see some music. She said yes and six months later we were married and off on our adventures. Over that first year we sent each other more than 2000 email messages.

The day before Julie died, I turned to those archived emails. Through tears, I read our early messages to her. I knew that despite being unconscious she could hear my voice and relive those moments with me.

We met on an email list devoted to Grunge music, and six months later, in 1992, we married and traveled the world.

As I sat down to write her obituary, I shifted to a new role: Historian. I began by collecting old text messages, voice mails, and emails. Old SD cards and phones in drawers augmented photo backups. I scanned old photos; friends and family sent what they could find.

But there was more online, some in public archives. The earliest was Julie’s Usenet newsgroup postings. Some are available in Google Groups, but the Internet Archive had many more at https://archive.org/details/usenet. I found posts by Julie in a number of groups, CINEMA-L and alt.music.alternative to name a few. To really recreate the experience, I displayed them on an 80×24 retro-terminal green screen:

Back in January 1992, Julie shared her Top 5 Movies of 1991 on Usenet.

Then there were the bands she loved whose works were out of print. Some, like The Sycamores, had contact info online. But I had to turn to the Internet Underground Music Archive (IUMA) to find information about The Wonsers. (Thank you Jason Scott and John Gilmore for saving this and the rest of IUMA!)

And as I dug through email, I remembered Julie loved the “Future Culture” mailing list, and often shared the cultural and technical ephemera she found there.  I subscribed to the list so I could let them know about Julie, and found her messages to the group. Julie started lurking in 1993, finally introducing herself in ’97:

Oh yeah, my name is Julie Lindner. I’m from Minneapolis, Minnesota. But, have spent the last year and a half living in Geneva. This seems to be a very interesting group of people. I expect it will be a pleasure to get to know you.

She didn’t post much, but she did earn the title of “Goddess of Tacky Postcards” for three of her entries in a competition to find the most tacky postcard.  She sent in her best and they ended up on a web site “Future Culture goes Postal.”  It’s gone, but it was archived.

The archive is incomplete, but luckily Julie’s second and  third entries survived.  (The first was probably so tacky that it was unarchivable!) Finding these really captured her wicked sense of humor and brought back a special time in our lives.

The list also featured an orange jumpsuit-wearing member named Captain Cursor aka Taylor.  We never managed to meet Taylor, despite moving to the Bay Area. But his archives remain and they provide so much context for my own orange jumpsuit—a gift to me from Julie.

Captain Cursor, a stylesheet superhero c 1997

I was very happy to find even more websites kept alive by the Internet Archive:

  • SomaLiving.com – In 1999 we bought a Loft sight-unseen except for the brand-new ‘virtual tour’ technology.
  • That loft building had its own site: lighthouselofts.com containing photos and a history.
  • It was there that I built a personal, partially lost, website inspired by Julie’s tattoo:
The imagery Julie chose for her tatoo was Pan, the Greek god of the mountain wilds, rustic music, and impromptu concerts.

And finally, through the Wayback Machine, I learned that the memorial site julieslife.com was built on hallowed ground. Turns out I’m not the first to use this domain. There were two other Julies with two wholly unique and treasured lives. The Internet Archive contains the full history of both of them:

Throughout treatment, Julie was able to do many things that she loved. She supported animals in need. Here she is with our dog Gus.

In this way, archives become much more than just data. They allow us to witness, corroborate and remember what happened with an accuracy no human could ever achieve. Each e-mail, each photo, each song, and yes, each tacky postcard ensures that I won’t lose Julie a second time.

So for all the Julies out there, I am thankful for the Internet Archive. Survivors and Historians are eternally grateful that the Archive is there to augment our own fallible memories, ensuring that our loved ones are never lost to time.

Paul Lindner

p.s. If you have suffered a similar loss, please feel free to reach out for a sympathetic ear or for help finding memories in the archives. You can reach me via e-mail or chat/social-media.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Paul Lindner is a supporter of the Internet Archive, an organizer of the Decentralized Web Summit 2018 and a self-described “obscure 90s Internet OG.


Sharing Courses not Viruses—Educational Innovators Respond to COVID-19

As classrooms close due to COVID-19, how can we leverage online classes and digital libraries to fill the gap?

by Kate Tairyan, MD, MPH

The University of Washington’s (UW) Seattle campus is about 5 miles as the vector flies from Kirkland’s “Life Care Center,” the now ironically named the first epicenter of North America’s COVID-19 epidemic. And on March 6, after >25,000 people had signed a petition to stop in-person classes — they did.  

UW is hardly alone among academic institutions both domestically and globally dealing with such concerns: according to UNESCO, an unprecedented 777+ million students in 100 countries are currently out of school because of COVID-19. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay says: “While temporary school closures as a result of health and other crises are not new, unfortunately, the global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled and, if prolonged, could threaten the right to education.”  The news release adds:  “In response, UNESCO is supporting the implementation of large-scale distance learning programs and recommending open educational applications and platforms that schools and teachers can use to reach learners remotely. The organization is sharing best practices to leverage inexpensive mobile technologies for teaching and learning purposes to mitigate educational disruption.”

“Without such online remedies, this quiet brain drain could be the greatest impact of COVID-19.”

With such large-scaled closures and implications, it is clearly time to use the excellent alternative educational tools we have at hand. With abundant data to support their quality and efficacy, the Internet Archive’s Open Library, NextGenU.org, People’s Uni, Nurses International, and others are partnering to make online courses and digital libraries freely available to universities and educators currently without them, so their students can study (and our colleges/universities can stay strong) during restrictions on gathering and travel. We’re hoping that more institutions will come aboard this initiative and make one (or more) courses available so faculty without current online courses can assign such work to their students, and avoid losing valuable academic time.  

Without such online remedies, this quiet brain drain could be the greatest impact of COVID-19.

Might your institution be interested in joining a collaboration of course-offering organizations to help protect our students and universities during travel bans? We’re leading a ”Share a Course, Not a Virus COVID-19 Initiative,” and we would love to have your collaboration to keep students studying. Consider making one or more courses open access during travel and gathering restrictions and/or grant broader access to part/all of your digital library as part of this collaborative effort. There are proven strategies that allow many hands to help without creating additional burdens for helping institutions.

If you would like to learn more about sharing a course, contact info@nextgenu.org, and to learn more about sharing your libraries books in digital formats, contact chrisfreeland@archive.org. 

Here’s the growing list of courses currently on offer for this initiative. 

Table Title: COVID-19 Course Share – Share a Course, Not a Virus Keep Students Studying!

NextGenU.org courses:

  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Environmental Health
  • Climate Change and Health
  • War and Health
  • Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Substance Use Disorders (screening, prevention, and counseling)
  • Community-Oriented Primary Care
  • Breast Health
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Lifestyle Medicine

Peoples-uni.org courses

  • Disaster Management and Emergency Planning
  • Public Health Nutrition
  • Evaluation of Interventions
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Health Economics
  • Health Promotion
  • Non-Communicable Diseases
  • Public Health Concepts for Policy Makers

NextGenU.org and our colleagues invite would-be learners, potential institutional collaborators, and the media to visit www.NextGenU.org or to email info@NextGenU.org for further information.

Additional resources

  • Peer-reviewed publications evaluating NextGenU.org are listed here
  • Twitter here, Facebook here
Kate Tairyan, MD, MPH

Dr. Kate Tairyan is the Director of Public Health for NextGenU.org. She received one of the 19 Canadian Rising Stars in Global Health Awards and is leading the first free online public health program in the world.  You can read more about Dr. Tairyan here.

7 Things To Do If You Can’t Leave The House

“Quarantine,” “isolation,” “social distancing”—there are a lot of names for the same problem. Millions of people are being forced to alter their schedules and stay indoors due to the spread of COVID 19 (coronavirus). If you’re stuck at home, you may be asking yourself exactly what you’re going to do all day… and the Internet Archive is here to help!

If you’ve got an internet connection and some time to kill, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself entertained. Here are some of our favorites!


1. Celebrate Cinema

Feel like watching a classic movie? Our Feature Film Archive contains thousands of public domain films, shorts, and trailers, including classics such as Night of the Living Dead, His Girl Friday, and The Most Dangerous Game. You can browse Charlie Chaplin’s movies, watch modern animation such as Sita Sings The Blues, or learn about the life of Aaron Swartz; you can also check out our sizeable collection of silent productions, film noir, and historic comedy. With a huge range of genres, there’s something for everybody!


2. Become a Bookworm

There’s nothing like a good book to take you somewhere else. Both the Internet Archive’s Book Collection and Open Library feature thousands of engaging reads, from ancient classics to popular new additions. Browse thrillers, romance novels, biographies, self-help books, science fiction, political works, educational material, or whatever other genre sparks your interest; check out what’s popular and what’s recently available. And even if you don’t know what you want to read yet, then try picking a book at random—or even just asking a question and seeing what you find!


3. Let The Games Begin

If gaming is more your speed, then check out the MS-DOS Games in our Software Library. This collection includes dozens of classic favorites such as Pac-Man, Sim City, The Oregon Trail, Doom, Prince of Persia, Donkey Kong, and Tetris, as well as many more lesser-known titles such as Aliens Ate My Baby Sitter! and Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist. Enjoy simulations of popular board and card games such as Monopoly, Stratego, Hearts, or Mah Jong, as well as flight simulators, sports games, and this treat for Monty Python fans.


4. Tune In To An Old Radio Show

Before podcasts (or the internet, or even TV) there were radio shows. Even if you’ve never listened to an old-time radio broadcast, chances are you’re familiar with some of the pop-culture touchstones they created—from My Favorite Husband (which was later adapted into the TV show I Love Lucy) to Dragnet (with its famous catchphrase “Just the facts, ma’am.”). If you want to shake up your listening habits, you can explore sitcoms like The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, mysteries like The Whistler, or iconic Westerns such as Have Gun, Will Travel, Tales Of The Texas Rangers, and (of course) Gunsmoke.


5. Pick Up A New Hobby

If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, then you can put it to good use by learning a new skill! Ever wanted to take up origami? Knitting? Woodworking? Want to sharpen your drawing technique or become a maze-solving master? If cooking is your thing, maybe you can attempt a new cuisine or learn to bake a fancy dessert—if you have to stay home, at least eat well!


6. Listen To Live Concerts

Want to enjoy a musical performance without having to leave the house? The Live Music Archive contains thousands of concert recordings for hundreds of artists. Our most popular collection by far is The Grateful Dead, but you could also explore Smashing Pumpkins, Robert Randolph (and the Family Band), Disco Biscuits, Death Cab for Cutie, John Mayer, or Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. (If wizard rock is more your style, we also have several concerts from Harry and the Potters.) Take a look and see if any of your favorite artists are in here!


7. Do Some Exploring

This list only scratches the surface of what’s available within the Internet Archive. Relive the 80’s and 90’s (and learn how to style your scarf) with the Ephemeral VHS collection, or roam the cosmos with the NASA Image of the Day gallery. Learn about the history of advertising with this collection of retro TV ads or enjoy some psychedelic screensavers. No matter how long you’re stuck indoors, the Internet Archive will have something new to offer you—so happy hunting!

Happy Pi(e) Day

In honor of the esteemed mathematical constant, we invite you to celebrate Pi Day with us!

If you’re a math geek, we have you covered:

If your mathematical knowledge could use a little refresher, maybe try this one instead:
Sir Cumference and the dragon of pi : a math adventure.

You could listen to multiple people recite the first 50 digits of pi in various styles, including to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic (my personal favorite), in the voice of Bullwinkle, as an infomercial, in Latin, while laughing, in Morse Code, and while eating actual pie.

If you’re just obsessive, here’s

Have insomnia? Listen to the first 1,000 digits of pi for 9.5 minutes straight… problem solved!

But most importantly, if you want to celebrate by eating pie we can help you make one! Winner of the Best Title Award definitely goes to Pies and tarts with schmecks appeal by the inimitable Edna Staebler. A close second goes to Tarts with Tops On by Tamasin Day-Lewis. But take your pick from amongst a wide array of pie cookbooks to find the right one for you.

And most importantly, we wish you infinite pi(e).

School’s Out… Or Is It?

The recent concern around coronavirus has led to school closures in several US states and more than 30 different countries. Even when there aren’t any epidemics in progress, anything from power outages and snow days to full-blown natural disasters can shut down a school, interrupting the learning process and leaving bored children with time to fill.

The Internet Archive’s mission is Universal Access to All Knowledge, and that includes making it possible for anyone to receive a quality education, anytime, anywhere. School closures are a perfect time to take advantage of online learning—any student with an internet connection can enjoy a huge variety of books on virtually any subject, even accessing the collections of other schools and public libraries.

Alexis Rossi, Director of Collections here at the Internet Archive, has curated a list of resources that can help children continue their education outside of the classroom. If you’re facing a school closure, here’s a handy guide to help you find educational materials on a few popular subjects. And if you need resources for a topic that isn’t on this list, feel free to search the archive and spend the closure diving in to our collections!


Mythology

The oldest stories in the world still tell thrilling tales. If you’re fascinated by Isis and Osiris or want to know who first stole fire, check out this collection of books on myths and legends !


Outer Space

Did you know that it sometimes snows on Mars? Or that a day on Venus is longer than a year? This collection of books and multimedia about the cosmos contains plenty of fun facts to inspire budding astronomers.


Children’s Literature

A few years ago The New York Public Library published a list of the top 100 children’s books from the previous 100 years, a “who’s who” of childhood favorites—from Dr. Seuss to JK Rowling, from Goodnight Moon to Esperanza Rising. The best part is that most of these books are on the Internet Archive and can be checked out for free!


The American Revolution

Calling all history buffs! If you want to learn about the writers who called for independence, the spies who gathered information, the women who joined the war effort, or the everyday citizens who survived a world-changing revolution, this is the place.


1000 Black Girl Books

When 11-year-old Marley Dias noticed that her school reading list was mostly stories about “white boys and dogs”, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Marley curated a collection of 1000 books that featured black girls as the protagonists, and the Internet Archive is working hard to digitize them all so that everyone can read them. Check out the books we have so far!


Dinosaurs

Who doesn’t love learning about dinosaurs? Run with velociraptors, fly with pteranodons, and swim with ichthyosaurs with this collection of Jurassic gems!


Shakespeare

Widely considered one of the greatest writers in the English language, William Shakespeare’s works have been read by generations of schoolchildren. Since all his works are in the public domain, you can read multiple editions of them online—along with helpful notes, commentaries, and study guides!


Study Breaks

Can you make it to the Willamette Valley without dying of dysentery? Or beat Bobby Fischer in a game of chess? The Internet Archive is home to a variety of fun and educational computer games from years past, including “The Oregon Trail”, “Spellevator”, “Number Munchers”, “Grammar Gobble”, “Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess”, and “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego”.

If you prefer analog activities, we also have a range of puzzles and games, coloring books, sudoku grids, and other activity books that kids of all ages can enjoy. Feel free to print and play!


Other Resources

Looking for more formal educational resources? The Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education has produced a series of lesson plans on a huge variety of subjects, from the history of Yugoslavia to the principles of economics to the basics of haiku. Take a look!

Outside of the Internet Archive, other useful educational resources include Khan Academy, PBSKids.org, and your local library’s websites (here’s the San Francisco Public Library’s kids portal).


Whether you’re facing a school closure or not, the Internet Archive is a great resource for children’s educational materials. If you want to support our mission of Universal Access To All Knowledge, click here to donate. And if you have any other suggestions for items in our collections that could be useful, leave them in the comments!

“Community Webs” Receives Additional Funding to Further Public Library Local History Web Collecting

In 2017, our Archive-It service was awarded funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for the 2-year project “Community Webs: Empowering Public Librarians to Create Community History Web Archives.” The program has been providing training and technical infrastructure for a diverse group of librarians nationwide to develop expertise in creating collections of historically valuable web-published materials documenting their local communities and under-represented communities. In response to an unexpectedly large group of applicants, and with additional internal funding, we were able to expand the cohort to a total of 28 libraries from 16 states. The launch announcement and the dedicated website have further information about the program and its progress.

We are excited to announce that IMLS has recently provided additional supplementary funding to Community Webs! The additional funding will allow us to focus on program evaluation, expansion, and strategic planning. We are very pleased to be working with the Educopia Institute in support of this work and will benefit from their vast expertise in community cultivation and program facilitation.

Over the course of the original 2-year Community Webs program, the 28 participating libraries created hundreds of archived collections totaling more than 40 terabytes of data, gave dozens of professional presentations at local and national conferences, held many public programs and patron-facing events, and attended numerous meet-ups and cohort events. As well, the program created a suite of open educational resources, online courses, and other training materials supporting digital curation skills development, local history web collecting, and community formation. Some sample collections created as part of the program include:

#HashtagSyllabusMovement by Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
LGBTQ in Alabama by Birmingham Public Library
D.C. Punk (Web) Archive by DC Public Library, Special Collections
North Bay Fires, 2017 by Sonoma County Public Library
Food Culture by Athens (GA) Regional Library System
Movimiento Cosecha Grand Rapids by Grand Rapids Public Library

The program’s website has links to each participating institution’s collections page.

We are grateful to IMLS for the additional funding to continue this popular program, excited to work with Educopia on further community development, and encourage any public libraries interested in participating to contact us.