Category Archives: News

Artist Dina Kelberman’s newest exhibition features images of compulsive habits found in the Internet Archive

A project by Dina Kelberman presented by Dazibao and broadcasted in partnership with the Internet Archive

Nervous (52/60), 2020

Kelberman’s practice is one of obsessive collection and organization converted by a perfectionism that provokes interminable repetitions. Though her images are often sourced from the Internet, the artist doesn’t work within the random and fragmented semiotics of that medium. Instead, with a character of care and resourcefulness, she leans into that which is expressed through multiplicity or reiteration: “My work is about how everyone and everything is special, and so while specialness is not special, it is still pretty much the most exciting thing going.”

Dina Kelberman’s project Nervous will feature a series of video loops that compare and combine compulsive habits, recursively exploring the areas where comfort and anxiety are simultaneous. In the midst of Covid-19, these restless gestures for coping, once experienced privately by a minority, might suddenly become familiar to a vast majority who attempt to take cautionary measures. Instagram in this context and as a platform for the work, also speaks to a feeling both of necessity and of insatiability, while inducing the user/viewer in the repetitive, almost irrepressible gestures of tapping and scrolling.

Nervous (10/60), 2020

The original footage used for Nervous comes from viewing hundreds of commercials and educational films spanning the 50’s to 90’s sourced from the Internet Archive’s extensive collections.  Tiny moments found within these movies are edited into endless loops of small behaviors.  The original innocuous context of these moments, intended to be level-headed and soothing, instead becomes nerve-wracking.  Commercials for tough-acting cleaners and convenient appliances are now compulsive preoccupations. Educational films depicting the right way to do something, the solutions to problems, now are problems themselves.  The means to improve your life have failed past the realm of diminishing returns into flat-out harm.


Nervous will run from June 1st to July 31st as an instagram residency at: @dazibaomtl #nervousdlk2020

Dazibao is a contemporary art center and non-profit organization dedicated to the dissemination and mediation of contemporary image practices, privileging artistic experimentation, enquiry and reflection related to current social issues.

Dazibao is dedicated to the development and presentation of original artworks by Canadian artists whose contemporary practices are founded on the image. Providing the public an opportunity to create links between local and global discourses, such works are presented alongside works by international artists thus contextualizing their relevance within a broader art ecology.

By questioning the discourses, uses and modes of disseminating images, Dazibao explores artistic as well as historical and social issues, sharing them with the various communities that make up Montreal’s diversity.

The reflections developed by Dazibao are conveyed by way of exhibitions, video programs, films, public artworks, books and special events. These activities are accompanied by a cultural outreach program that facilitates stimulating encounters with art and create conversations raised by societal issues.

Dazibao collaborates with numerous artists, curators, critics, researchers, and the university milieu and is involved in several ongoing partnerships with related or complementary organizations. Dazibao promotes equity, inclusivity, equality, diversity and cultural hybridization so that art can assert itself as a field of knowledge capable of facilitating a better understanding of the world around us. Offered free of charge, the activities organized by the center are open to all.

100 Great Books From African American Women

Ida B. Wells, Toni Morrison, and Zora Neale Hurston are just three of the authors whose works appear in the Zora Canon.

From the earliest days of American literature, Black women have made invaluable contributions—although their work was often discounted, criticized, or ignored. To counter this history, the online publication Zora (named for author Zora Neale Hurston) created The Zora Canon, a collection of the 100 most prominent books written by African American women. Even better, most of these books are available to check out for free on the Internet Archive!

“To our knowledge,” write the editors of Zora, “no one has ever compiled a comprehensive list specifically featuring the finest literary works produced by African American women authors. We decided to undertake that effort both to honor that still underappreciated group of writers and to provide [readers] with a handy reference guide to their work. ”

The books were compiled in consultation with a panel of academics, critics, authors, editors, and authorities on African American women’s literature, who each added to the final list. The result was 100 works spanning more than a century and a half in a huge variety of genres and styles, including novels, plays, poetry, memoirs, anthologies, and scholarly works. “Taken together,” write the editors, “the works don’t just make up a novel canon; they form a revealing mosaic of the Black American experience during the time period. They’re also just great reads. ”

As part of our commitment to offering Universal Access to All Knowledge, the Internet Archive works to share literature from diverse perspectives—which is why we were pleased to discover that most of the books in the Zora Canon are already available in our collections. Many of them are available for checkout—all you have to do is sign up for a digital library card—while a few are in the public domain, allowing anybody to download them without limitation. Some of the books that aren’t yet available can be added through our Book Sponsorship program, so that future readers can discover and enjoy them. 

If you’d like to read some of the books on the list, check out the links below! If you want to expand your reading further, you can also browse our #1000 Black Girl Books Collection (which features a range of books with Black girls and women as the protagonists) or our full list of works by Zora Neale Hurston. Happy reading!


The Zora Canon

A Mercy by Toni Morrison

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

A Voice From the South: By a Black Woman of the South by Anna Julia Cooper

African American Music: An Introduction by Mellonee V. Burnim and Portia K. Maultsby

Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks

All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830–1900 by Martha S. Jones

All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave edited by Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith

Blacks by Gwendolyn Brooks

Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith

Blue-Chip Black by Karyn R. Lacy

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall

Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody

Corregidora by Gayl Jones

Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness by Simone Browne

In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose by Alice Walker

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

Invisibility Blues: From Pop to Theory by Michele Wallace

Iola Leroy by Frances Harper

Jubilee by Margaret Walker

Killing the Black Body by Dorothy E. Roberts

Linden Hills by Gloria Naylor

Magical Negro by Morgan Parker

Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks

Meridian by Alice Walker

Moses, Man of the Mountain by Zora Neale Hurston

Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey

Oreo by Fran Ross

Our Nig by Harriet E. Wilson

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

Passing by Nella Larsen

Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School by Monique W. Morris

Quicksand by Nella Larsen

81. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin

Radiance From the Waters: Ideals of Feminine Beauty in Mende Art by Sylvia Ardyn Boone

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo by Ntozake Shange

Selected Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Sula by Toni Morrison

Sweat by Lynn Nottage

Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica by Zora Neale Hurston

The Black Christ by Kelly Brown Douglas

The Black Woman: An Anthology by Toni Cade Bambara

The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton edited by Kevin Young and Michael S. Glaser

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Ethnic Project: Transforming Racial Fiction Into Ethnic Factions by Vilna Bashi Treitler

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

The Flagellants by Carlene Hatcher Polite

The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou

The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

The Red Record by Ida B. Wells

The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara

The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni: 1968–1995 by Nikki Giovanni

The Street by Ann Petry

The Third Life of Grange Copeland by Alice Walker

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor

Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman

We a BaddDDD People by Sonia Sanchez

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins

When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings

Where We Stand: Class Matters by bell hooks

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde

National Emergency Library Weekly Update: 5/27

Graphic art by Yiying Lu

Dear Reader—

We hope you and your family had a relaxing Memorial Day Weekend, and we hope you spent your weekend reading from the National Emergency Library. If you are enjoying the NEL or simply want to talk about the books you have borrowed from our library, please let us knowAnd we will not share your response unless you give explicit permission

Below are highlights from the library world. And as always, thank you for your generous support.

Sizzle Then Fizzle: Buzzy Titles and Borrowing Digitized Books. Have you ever wondered what happens to popular books after their day in the sun has passed? In this blog post we discuss two titles that have received a lot of interest, but as we uncovered, most individuals only wanted to check the book for a certain “newsy” passage.

Libraries Have Never Needed Permission To Lend Books, And The Move To Change That Is A Big Problem. In case you have been following the latest on the National Emergency Library, Mike Masnick of TechDirt has a comprehensive breakdown of the recent blog by Kyle Courtney, Copyright Advisor at Harvard Library, in addition to other happenings around the NEL.

By Retraining Staff, We Uncover Rare Gems. We have some good news for this extraordinary time: we are bringing back furloughed scanners and hiring experts to teach our staff how to do new and safe socially distanced scanning activities for the Library. Our scanners are uncovering rare gems and learning new skills, like how to digitize 78rpm records.

How to Binge Watch Some Great Classic Sci-Fi for Free. Love classic science fiction, but cannot find what you want to watch on television? We have you covered. ZDNet has a guide—including some browser extension tips and tricks—about how to watch science fiction classics from our collection.

ICYMI: Controlled Digital Lending: Getting Books to Students During the Pandemic & Beyond. Our friends at Public Knowledge hosted a webinar last Friday about controlled digital lending. Moderated by Public Knowledge, Counsel, Meredith Rose, the session included Cory Doctorow, author of Radicalized and Walkaway, special advisor to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and visiting professor of practice in library science at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Chris Freeland, Director of Open Libraries at the Internet Archive; Lisa Petrides, Founder and CEO of Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education; and Lisa Weaver, Director, Collections & Program Development at Hamilton Public Library. If you missed the event, the video can be found in the link above.

Upcoming Webinars and Events. If you’re interested in learning how libraries can use controlled digital lending in addition to the temporary National Emergency Library, please join Chris Freeland, Director of Open Libraries, who will be leading a series of webinars on this topic. Freeland will explain how the Internet Archive works: from scanning book centers to how books are made available online. Please check the link for webinar dates.

ICYMI: We have a Medium channel. In case you ever miss a blog on our website, you can find them here.

Don’t forget to keep up with updates from the Internet Archive team by following us on Twitter and visiting our website

The National Emergency Library: A Useful Tool for Educators

by Theron Cosgrave, an educational specialist in school redesign and teacher training

Almost three months of pandemic-inspired school closures have made one thing painfully clear for educators: distance learning is a completely different ballgame than in-person teaching. Worries about classroom management and test prep have taken a temporary backseat to challenges with student WiFi access and cyber hygiene concerns like “zoomboming,” the colloquial term for when an uninvited guest appears in a video call.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the need for high-quality learning resources to engage students. Despite all its challenges, this time has fostered a renaissance of online tool sharing. In my school consulting practice I’ve been connecting educators with a variety of links to help ease the transition online, and out of all the digital resources I’ve seen, the National Emergency Library recently rose to the top of my list of the best tools for remote learning. 

Using any internet-connected device, teachers and students can borrow free online digital books from the National Emergency Library’s massive collection. Here are some specific ways that educators can benefit from this tool:

K-12 TEACHERS

Teachers can use the Library to connect students with many of the books that are currently locked away in shuttered classrooms and school libraries, including hundreds of titles found on Common Core reading lists. Need a copy of The Paper Crane to read aloud to your first graders during a video call? Done. Want your fourth graders to read the Christopher Paul Curtis story Bud, Not Buddy? Send them the link. Looking for a copy of Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee for your high school history class? The Library has that too.

COLLEGE INSTRUCTORS

At the university level, the National Emergency Library enables college instructors to conduct and assign research despite limited access to their own university collections. And while you may not teach at MIT or University of Oklahoma, you can borrow titles that these institutions have in their collections.

LIBRARIANS & LIBRARY TECHNICIANS

School libraries—particularly at the K-12 level—have struggled to transition their services online in such a short timeframe. Fortunately, the National Emergency Library can fill the gap. Librarians at the K-12 and college level can link the Library to their school websites and notify their teachers and students that books are still available through digital lending. 

SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS

District and school-level leaders currently developing plans for reopening schools in the fall with social distancing practices in place can lean on the services of the National Emergency Library’s parent organization, the Internet Archive, to ensure students have full digital access to core texts. Schools that join the Archive’s Open Libraries initiative can be assured they have reliable library access in case of any possible school closures in the future.

Educators have plenty to worry about during these unprecedented times. Fortunately, with the help of the National Emergency Library, accessing engaging books is no longer one of them.

Pretend you’re here with Internet Archive Zoom backgrounds

Have you seen these gorgeous library backgrounds you can use to pretend you’re amongst the smell of of old books and hushed page turning?

When I saw them I got a little jealous and thought, “computers are just as soothing!” So without further ado, welcome to your Internet Archive virtual Zoom backgrounds.

We’ve got a pretty majestic building you could sit in front of. There’s free wifi.

Or you can come inside and sit in the Great Room with us, stained glass dome and all.

Sit quietly amongst the pews with our little Internet Archivist sculptures by Nuala Creed.

Or have them be your backup dancers / Greek chorus on all your calls.

You can sit amongst the films waiting to be digitized.

Or pretend to be digitizing them yourself.

Scan books seated in front of a Table Top Scribe.

Or sit with the constant hum of busy servers in the background.

Sizzle Then Fizzle: Buzzy Titles and Borrowing Digitized Books

While people all over the world have been at home due to COVID-19, recent reports about library usage indicate they have turned to books for comfort and enjoyment. Our own site has seen an increase in traffic and bandwidth consumption, and usage of our digital library has increased as well. Given our current situation with COVID-19, it may be no surprise that certain titles have captured the reading public’s attention, such as Sylvia Browne’s “End of Days,” in which the author predicts “around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe…” 

End of Days by Sylvia Browne

The book has been available through the Internet Archive’s controlled digital lending library since 2014, but had virtually no checkouts or usage until it became “buzzy”—it was featured in a popular social media post in early March and since then, the preview of the page has been included in a number of popular web sites and publications. Because of this interest, the book continues to be among the top viewed at the Internet Archive right now. But interestingly enough, people aren’t checking the book out. They preview the one page with the timely prediction, and then they browse away from the book. This isn’t an isolated event—other books in our library have also seen dramatic increases in interest simply due to popular news. 

Take the example of “Wasted” by Mark Judge, which we spoke about in terms of controlled digital lending back in November 2018. The book entered the public dialogue during then-DC Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing to be the next Supreme Court Justice. Kavanaugh was confirmed and, of interest to the library and information transparency communities, joined the majority in the recent Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org Inc. case that held that copyright protection does not extend to the law.

In the case of “Wasted,” the book originally had a limited print run, so there were very few copies in libraries. It was a “buzzy” title—everyone wanted a copy, including both political parties, the media, and Justice Kavanaugh’s supporters and detractors. Because of the limited supply and high demand, book sellers were offering used copies for thousands of dollars online. It was essentially impossible to locate a copy.

Among those few libraries with a copy was Boston Public Library, which had one copy housed in their non-circulating research collection. Using their existing on-site Internet Archive scanning center, they scanned the book, returned the physical copy to the closed stacks, and made the digital copy available through controlled digital lending to one user at a time.

Those who wanted to queue up to read [“Wasted”] could join a waitlist, just like at your public library. And they did.

Where controlled digital lending didn’t work was meeting the immediate demand of a crushing media news cycle that wanted to read the book. Because there was only one physical copy of the book, only one person could checkout the digital copy and read it at a time, and with our standard 14 day circulation period, the digital book would circulate an estimated 30 times per year. Those who wanted to queue up to read the book could join a waitlist, just like at your public library. And they did. Within 24 hours of making the book available at archive.org, its waitlist had jumped to more than 400 people. In the nearly 18 months since, the waitlist topped out at more than 800 people, meaning that someone joining the list at its peak would be waiting more than 20 years for their turn to read. 

But all of that changed when we launched the National Emergency Library which gave us an unexpected opportunity for an experiment. By suspending waitlists for our books, all of the users on the waitlist could check out the book without delay. We notified users by email, as is our norm, that they could now check out the book.

It turned out most users did not want to check out the book when they were eventually offered the opportunity. Some did check out the book, but few. In the week after the launch of the NEL, 50 copies were on loan. Following our previously reported circulation patterns, 90% of those borrows go stagnant within the first hour (most much faster), meaning that users stop interacting with the book, so there were may be closer to five actual readers of the book. Today, the book is not checked out by any users. This blog post will again raise interest in the book, and so it will likely have more borrows over the next week (the number likely depends on the reach of this post) before it again returns to a lower, post-buzz circulation level.

Once waitlists were relaxed and all of those users could finally read the book, the vast majority didn’t.

“End of Days” and “Wasted” aren’t unique. Current events will often trigger a fleetingly higher interest in older books on various topics. And so what does this mean? Here are some preliminary thoughts, with more to come in a subsequent blog post:

  • “Buzzy” titles have a short shelf life. Once the news cycle moves on, so does public interest. Though it numbered in the 800s, the waitlist for “Wasted” showed pent up, and ultimately expired, demand for the title, especially since the news story is now nearly 18 months old. Once waitlists were relaxed and all of those users could finally read the book, the vast majority didn’t. We expect a similar pattern to emerge around “End of Days” once our waitlists are restored.
  • People rarely read the book even after checking it out. When it comes to these buzzy titles most users just want to flip through to see the interesting bits and then move on because they’re not really interested in the subject of the book, just the news story. It’s a similar pattern to the users who come to our books through a citation in Wikipedia—they’re brought into our books through a link to a page, they read the page or two they need for context or verification, and then they’re out of the book. The difference with Wikipedia links, however, is that those links help users identify books that they can check out and dive into deeper if they’re working on a research project or term paper, so the motivation to engage with the book is stronger than for the average social media post.

As previously highlighted, two weeks after the NEL launch we posted early usage and circulation trends that we had observed. We plan to release an update on those trends and to report any additional findings about how people are using the NEL. We highlight these data so that our community can have a better understanding of what’s being used in the NEL and how it’s being accessed, so that we can build these considerations into future digital library infrastructures.  

To stay up-to-date on the National Emergency Library, sign up for our weekly newsletter.

National Emergency Library Weekly Update: 5/18

Graphic art by Yiying Lu

Dear Reader —

What are you reading from the National Emergency Library? Please let us knowWe will not share your response unless you give explicit permission. We are thrilled so many of you have reached out to let us know how you are using the Library for research, teaching, and even personal purposes. 

Below are highlights from the library world. As always, thank you for your generous support.

“Watapana,” a Papiamento literary journal, is among the 18,800 items now online thanks to the Biblioteca Nacional Aruba

When An Island Shuts Down: Aruba & the National Emergency Library. On March 15, the small island nation of Aruba had its businesses, schools, and libraries close to stop the spread of COVID-19. And like so many others, librarians began to wonder how they would find the appropriate books needed, especially for students. Our team spoke with Dr. Peter Scholing, who leads the digitization effort at the National Library of Aruba, about how the National Emergency Library has provided the “missing link” needed for students across the country.

A Happy Ending for Seattle’s Bop Street Records: A Nonprofit Buys Up the Entire Collection. Dave Voorhees, owner of Seattle’s Bop Street Records, announced his store was closing at the end of June. He decided to close in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Well, our team would like to provide some good news: we purchased the entire collection sight unseen.

Hot off the digital press! Libraries Do Not Need Permission to Lend Books: Fair Use, First Sale, and the Fallacy of Licensing Culture. Kyle K. Courtney, Copyright Advisor at Harvard Library, has published a post today covering his thoughts on licensing vs. ownership by libraries and what that means for librarians and educators in our current COVID-19 environment.

Ever Gold [Projects] & The Internet Archive Present Bay Area Emerging Visual Artist Exhibition Production Relief Grant. For the past four years, we have teamed up with Ever Gold [Projects] with help from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation in addition to individual generosity to provide a grant program to host an artist in residency exhibition. Due to the unforeseen circumstances, we had to cancel the program. However, we have decided to redirect the funds to support San Francisco Bay Area artists who have been affected by the global pandemic.

The Copyright Office Weighs in on the National Emergency Library. The United States Copyright Office (USCO) penned a reply to Senator Udall [D-NM] asking about the legality of the National Emergency Library. The Office’s response primarily focuses on general guidance for libraries and educational institutions and avoids reaching a legal conclusion or providing any specific recommendations regarding the NEL. Internet Archive Founder and Digital Librarian, Brewster Kahle responded to the letter on Twitter, please see his reply here. If you would like to contact your Member of Congress to tell them how you are using and enjoying the NEL, a state and district list can be found here.

Controlled Digital Lending: Getting Books to Students During the Pandemic & Beyond. Our friends at Public Knowledge are hosting a webinar on May 22nd about controlled digital lending. The webinar will be moderated by Public Knowledge Counsel Meredith Rose, who will be joined by Cory Doctorow, author of Radicalized and Walkaway, special advisor to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and visiting professor of practice in library science at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; Chris Freeland, Director of Open Libraries at the Internet Archive; Lisa Petrides, Founder and CEO of Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education; and Lisa Weaver, Director, Collections & Program Development at Hamilton Public Library.

Other Webinars and Events. If you’re interested in learning how libraries can use controlled digital lending in addition to the temporary National Emergency Library, please join Chris Freeland, Director of Open Libraries, who will be leading a series of webinars on this topic. Freeland will explain how the Internet Archive works: from scanning book centers to how books are made available online. Check here for webinar dates.

ICYMI: We have a Medium channel. In case you ever miss a blog on our website, you can find them here.

What YOU Are Saying About the National Emergency Library: Our team has been soliciting input on the National Emergency Library. Below are a handful of testimonials from across the education and library sectors. We only use testimonials for which we have explicit permission. If you would like to be featured in our next newsletter, please submit a testimonial.

Note: We have NOT substantially changed the testimonials, if you notice your testimonial looks a little different, it is just for readability purposes. Thank you for submitting.

Mike M., Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, Researcher:
Mike is a researcher who has been using the National Emergency Library for personal research purposes in the fields of genealogy and art history. He called the NEL “awesome.”

Don’t forget to keep up with updates from the Internet Archive team by following us on Twitter and visiting our website

When An Island Shuts Down: Aruba & the National Emergency Library

The island nation of Aruba, population 110,000, lies 18 miles north of Venezuela, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

On March 15, the small island nation of Aruba, part of the Dutch Caribbean, closed its borders to visitors. Cruise ships packed with tourists stopped coming. Casinos, libraries and schools shut their doors, as Aruba’s 110,000 residents locked down to halt the spread of COVID-19.

That’s when the Biblioteca Nacional Aruba (National Library of Aruba) swung into action. 

Librarians quickly gathered reading lists from students, parents and schools. With high school graduation exams just a month away, the required literature books would be crucial. Aruban students are tested on books in Dutch, English, Spanish and their native language of Papiamento. “Just before your literary final exams, you need to re-read the books,” explained Peter Scholing, who leads digitization efforts at the National Library of Aruba. “The libraries are closed. Your school libraries are closed. You can order from Amazon, but it takes weeks and weeks to arrive. If you are in an emergency, then you hope your books are online.”

Peter Scholing of the National Library of Aruba also works with UNESCO, preserving cultural heritage

Scholing was relieved to discover that most of the required literature in English and Spanish was available in the Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library. As library staff moved to work from home, they grabbed the tools to digitize the books in Papiamento that were missing. Many local authors were easy to track down and most gladly gave permission for free downloads or loaning their works. Scholing reports, “Some of them choose digital lending. But a lot of them  say, ‘Well it was a limited print run….I’ve sold all the copies of my books, now you can just make it available for download.’

Preservation Pays Off

Classroom in Aruba, 1944, filled with children of expatriates, working in oil refineries.

For many years, the library’s small Special Collections staff had been diligently digitizing key collections: photographs, historic texts, newspapers, and perhaps the world’s largest collection of texts in Papiamento. But with few technical resources, the National Library of Aruba had no way to provide access to those works. Scholing says the Internet Archive proved to be the “missing link.” In March 2019, the Library was able to unveil its new Digital Collection, 18,800 texts, videos and audio now accessible to the world on archive.org. Today, with libraries and schools closed, these materials are the keys to unlocking the doors to online learning.

 “We didn’t imagine something like the Covid crisis could happen,” said Scholing. “But for our preservation efforts, this is the Big One. We are really lucky to be able to provide access to information that we couldn’t otherwise without the Internet Archive.”

This Papiamento literary journal is among the 18,800 items now online thanks to the Biblioteca Nacional Aruba

When Waitlists Won’t Work

Novels, biographies and non-fiction titles in Papiamento are part of the Aruban curriculum and now many are accessible online

Although Scholing had permission from the authors to lend their recent books, several times we accidentally reinstituted the waiting list, since the National Emergency Library does not include books from the last five years. That meant students reading the work suddenly would have had to wait, sometimes for weeks, to move up the waiting list. Scholing wrote to us immediately:  “There must be an alternative. I’m getting emails from students and teachers already.”

Eventually we worked out the kinks so Aruba’s books in the National Emergency Library wouldn’t get taken down. In addition, hundreds of texts in Papiamento from 1844-2020 are now available without waitlist. It’s part of a bigger vision on the island to teach students to read and write the language they speak at a higher level. “A lot of textbooks come straight from the Netherlands…you are reading about snow, trains and windmills,” Scholing explained. “It’s better to use something from a newspaper or magazine produced locally…It’s their own context. It speaks more to them.”

He even received this note from a local author, written in Papiamento:

Peter aprecia, (Dear Peter,)

Hopi admiracion pa e trabou cu bo ta desplegando pa Aruba y nos hendenan.

(A lot of admiration for the work that you are carrying out for Aruba and for our people.)

This week, schools in Aruba are scheduled to reopen. Since March, the library has tripled the number of items in its digital collection, and visitors have increased by 300%. Scholing sees this as evidence that  the National Emergency Library will have lasting benefit. “All the thresholds and barriers to access this unique information have been lifted, once you put it online.”

You can now access newspapers, photos, maps, government publications, literature and rare books from Aruba in their collection at the Internet Archive.

Thank you for helping us increase our bandwidth

Last week the Internet Archive upped our bandwidth capacity 30%, based on increased usage and increased financial support.  Thank you.

This is our outbound bandwidth graph that has several stories to tell…

A year ago, usage was 30Gbits/sec. At the beginning of this year, we were at 40Gbits/sec, and we were handling it.  That is 13 Petabytes of downloads per month.  This has served millions of users to materials in the wayback machine, those listening 78 RPMs, those browsing digitized books, streaming from the TV archive, etc.  We were about the 250th most popular website according to Alexa Internet.

Then Covid-19 hit and demand rocketed to 50Gbits/sec and overran our network infrastructure’s ability to handle it.  So much so, our network statistics probes had difficulty collecting data (hence the white spots in the graphs).   

We bought a second router with new line cards, and got it installed and running (and none of this is easy during a pandemic), and increased our capacity from 47Gbits/sec peak to 62Gbits/sec peak.   And we are handling it better, but it is still consumed.

Alexa Internet now says we are about the 160th most popular website.

So now we are looking at the next steps up, which will take more equipment and is more wizardry, but we are working on it.

Thank you again for the support, and if you would like to donate more, please know it is going to build collections to serve millions.  https://archive.org/donate