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.