Category Archives: Open Library

The 20th Century Time Machine

by Nancy Watzman & Katie Dahl

Jason Scott

With the turn of a dial, some flashing lights, and the requisite puff of fog, emcees Tracey Jaquith, TV Architect, and Jason Scott, Free Range Archivist, cranked up the Internet Archive 20th Century Time Machine on stage before a packed house at the Internet Archive’s annual party on October 11.

Eureka! The cardboard contraption worked! The year was 1912, and out stepped Alexis Rossi, director of Media and Access, her hat adorned with a 78rpm record.

1912

D’Anna Alexander (center) with her mother (right) and grandmother (left).

“Close your eyes and listen,” Rossi asked the audience. And then, out of the speakers floated the scratchy sounds of Billy Murray singing “Low Bridge, Everybody Down” written by Thomas S. Allen. From 1898 to the 1950s, some three million recordings of about three minutes each were made on 78rpm discs. But these discs are now brittle, the music stored on them precious. The Internet Archive is working with partners on the Great 78 Project to store these recordings digitally, so that we and future generations can enjoy them and reflect on our music history. New collections include the Tina Argumedo and Lucrecia Hug 78rpm Collection of dance music collected in Argentina in the mid-1930s.

1927

Next to emerge from the Time Machine was David Leonard, president of the Boston Public Library, which was the first free, municipal library founded in the United States. The mission was and remains bold: make knowledge available to everyone. Knowledge shouldn’t be hidden behind paywalls, restricted to the wealthy but rather should operate under the principle of open access as public good, he explained. Leonard announced that the Boston Public Library would join the Internet Archive’s Great 78 Project, by authorizing the transfer of 200,000 individual 78s and LPs to preserve and make accessible to the public, “a collection that otherwise would remain in storage unavailable to anyone.”

David Leonard and Brewster Kahle

Brewster Kahle, founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive, then came through the time machine to present the Internet Archive Hero Award to Leonard. “I am inspired every time I go through the doors,” said Kahle of the library, noting that the Boston Public Library was the first to digitize not just a presidential library, of John Quincy Adams, but also modern books.  Leonard was presented with a tablet imprinted with the Boston Public Library homepage by Internet Archive 2017 Artist in Residence, Jeremiah Jenkins.

1942

Kahle then set the Time Machine to 1942 to explain another new Internet Archive initiative: liberating books published between 1923 to 1941. Working with Elizabeth Townsend Gard, a copyright scholar at Tulane University, the Internet Archive is liberating these books under a little known, and perhaps never used, provision of US copyright law, Section 108h, which allows libraries to scan and make available materials published 1923 to 1941 if they are not being actively sold. The name of the new collection: the Sony Bono Memorial Collection, named for the now deceased congressman and former representative who led the passage of the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, which included the 108h provision as a “gift” to libraries.

One of these books includes “Your Life,” a tome written by Kahle’s grandfather, Douglas E. Lurton, a “guide to a desirable living.” “I have one copy of this book and two sons. According to the law, I can’t make one copy and give it to the other son. But now it’s available,” Kahle explained.

1944

Sab Masada

The Time Machine cranked to 1944, out came Rick Prelinger, Internet Archive Board member, archivist, and filmmaker. Prelinger introduced a new addition to the Internet Archive’s film collection: long-forgotten footage of an Arkansas Japanese internment camp from 1944.  As the film played on the screen, Prelinger welcomed Sab Masada, 87, who lived at this very camp as a 12-year-old.

Masada talked about his experience at the camp and why it is important for people today to remember it. “Since the election I’ve heard echoes of what I heard in 1942,” Masada said. “Using fear of terrorism to target the Muslims and people south of the border.”

1972

Next to speak was Wendy Hanamura, the director of partnerships. Hanamura explained how as a sixth grader she discovered a book at the library, Executive Order 9066, published in 1972, which chronicled photos of Japanese internment camps during World War II.

“Before I was an internet archivist, I was a daughter and granddaughter of American citizens who were locked up behind barbed wire in the same kind of camps that incarcerated Sab,” said Hanamura. That one book – now out of print – helped her understand what had happened to her family.

Inspired by making it to the semi-final round of the MacArthur 100&Change initiative with a proposal that provides libraries and learners with free digital access to four million books, the Internet Archive is forging ahead with plans, despite not winning the $100 million grant. Among the books the Internet Archive is making available: Executive Order 9066.

1985

The year display turned to 1985, Jason Scott reappeared on stage, explaining his role as a software curator. New this year to the Internet Archive are collections of early Apple software, he explained, with browser emulation allowing the user to experience just what it was like to fire up a Macintosh computer back in its hay day. This includes a collection of the then wildly popular “HyperCards,” a programmatic tool that enabled users to create programs that linked materials in creative ways, before the rise of the world wide web.

1997

After Vinay Goelthis tour through the 20th century, the Time Machine was set to 1997. Mark Graham, Director of the Wayback Machine and Vinay Goel, Senior Data Engineer, stepped on stage. Back in 1997, when the Wayback Machine began archiving websites on the still new World Wide Web, the entire thing amounted to 2.2 terabytes of data. Now the Wayback Machine contains 20 petabytes. Graham explained how the Wayback Machine is preserving tweets, government websites, and other materials that could otherwise vanish. One example: this report from The Rachel Maddow Show, which aired on December 16, 2016, about Michael Flynn, then slated to become National Security Advisor. Flynn deleted a tweet he had made linking to a falsified story about Hillary Clinton, but the Internet Archive saved it through the Wayback Machine.

Goel took the microphone to announce new improvements to Wayback Machine Search 2.0. Now it’s possible to search for keywords, such as “climate change,” and find not just web pages from a particular time period mentioning these words, but also different format types — such as images, pdfs, or yes, even an old Internet Archive favorite, animated gifs from the now-defunct GeoCities–including snow globes!

Thanks to all who came out to celebrate with the Internet Archive staff and volunteers, or watched online. Please join our efforts to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge, whatever century it is from.

Editor’s Note, 10/16/17: Watch the full event https://archive.org/details/youtube-j1eYfT1r0Tc  

 

Syncing Catalogs with thousands of Libraries in 120 Countries through OCLC

We are pleased to announce that the Internet Archive and OCLC have agreed to synchronize the metadata describing our digital books with OCLC’s WorldCat. WorldCat is a union catalog that itemizes the collections of thousands of libraries in more than 120 countries that participate in the OCLC global cooperative.

What does this mean for readers?
When the synchronization work is complete, library patrons will be able to discover the Internet Archive’s collection of 2.5 million digitized monographs through the libraries around the world that use OCLC’s bibliographic services. Readers searching for a particular volume will know that a digital version of the book exists in our collection. With just one click, readers will be taken to archive.org to examine and possibly borrow the digital version of that book. In turn, readers who find a digital book at archive.org will be able, with one click, to discover the nearest library where they can borrow the hard copy.

There are additional benefits: in the process of the synchronization, OCLC databases will be enriched with records describing books that may not yet be represented in WorldCat.

“This work strengthens the Archive’s connection to the library community around the world. It advances our goal of universal access by making our collections much more widely discoverable. It will benefit library users around the globe by giving them the opportunity to borrow digital books that might not otherwise be available to them,” said Brewster Kahle, Founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. “We’re glad to partner with OCLC to make this possible and look forward to other opportunities this synchronization will present.”

“OCLC is always looking for opportunities to work with partners who share goals and objectives that can benefit libraries and library users,” said Chip Nilges, OCLC Vice President, Business Development. “We’re excited to be working with Internet Archive, and to make this valuable content discoverable through WorldCat. This partnership will add value to WorldCat, expand the collections of member libraries, and extend the reach of Internet Archive content to library users everywhere.”

We believe this partnership will be a win-win-win for libraries and for learners around the globe.

Better discovery, richer metadata, more books borrowed and read.

Read the OCLC press release.

Books from 1923 to 1941 Now Liberated!

[press: boingboing]

The Internet Archive is now leveraging a little known, and perhaps never used, provision of US copyright law, Section 108h, which allows libraries to scan and make available materials published 1923 to 1941 if they are not being actively sold. Elizabeth Townsend Gard, a copyright scholar at Tulane University calls this “Library Public Domain.”  She and her students helped bring the first scanned books of this era available online in a collection named for the author of the bill making this necessary: The Sonny Bono Memorial Collection. Thousands more books will be added in the near future as we automate. We hope this will encourage libraries that have been reticent to scan beyond 1923 to start mass scanning their books and other works, at least up to 1942.

While good news, it is too bad it is necessary to use this provision.

Trend of Maximum U.S. General Copyright Term by Tom W Bell

If the Founding Fathers had their way, almost all works from the 20th century would be public domain by now (14-year copyright term, renewable once if you took extra actions).

Some corporations saw adding works to the public domain to be a problem, and when Sonny Bono got elected to the House of Representatives, representing Riverside County, near Los Angeles, he helped push through a law extending copyright’s duration another 20 years to keep things locked-up back to 1923.  This has been called the Mickey Mouse Protection Act due to one of the motivators behind the law, but it was also a result of Europe extending copyright terms an additional twenty years first. If not for this law, works from 1923 and beyond would have been in the public domain decades ago.

Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig

Creative Commons founder, Larry Lessig fought the new law in court as unreasonable, unneeded, and ridiculous.  In support of Lessig’s fight, the Internet Archive made an Internet bookmobile to celebrate what could be done with the public domain. We drove the bookmobile across the country to the Supreme Court to make books during the hearing of the case. Alas, we lost.

Internet Archive Bookmobile in front of
Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh: “Free to the People”

But there is an exemption from this extension of copyright, but only for libraries and only for works that are not actively for sale — we can scan them and make them available. Professor Townsend Gard had two legal interns work with the Internet Archive last summer to find how we can automate finding appropriate scanned books that could be liberated, and hand-vetted the first books for the collection. Professor Townsend Gard has just released an in-depth paper giving libraries guidance as to how to implement Section 108(h) based on her work with the Archive and other libraries. Together, we have called them “Last Twenty” Collections, as libraries and archives can copy and distribute to the general public qualified works in the last twenty years of their copyright.  

Today we announce the “Sonny Bono Memorial Collection” containing the first books to be liberated. Anyone can download, read, and enjoy these works that have been long out of print. We will add another 10,000 books and other works in the near future. “Working with the Internet Archive has allowed us to do the work to make this part of the law usable,” reflected Professor Townsend Gard. “Hopefully, this will be the first of many “Last Twenty” Collections around the country.”

Now it is the chance for libraries and citizens who have been reticent to scan works beyond 1923, to push forward to 1941, and the Internet Archive will host them. “I’ve always said that the silver lining of the unfortunate Eldred v. Ashcroft decision was the response from people to do something, to actively begin to limit the power of the copyright monopoly through action that promoted open access and CC licensing,” says Carrie Russell, Director of ALA’s Program of Public Access to Information. “As a result, the academy and the general public has rediscovered the value of the public domain. The Last Twenty project joins the Internet Archive, the HathiTrust copyright review project, and the Creative Commons in amassing our public domain to further new scholarship, creativity, and learning.”

We thank and congratulate Team Durationator and Professor Townsend Gard for all the hard work that went into making this new collection possible. Professor Townsend Gard, along with her husband, Dr. Ron Gard, have started a company, Limited Times, to assist libraries, archives, and museums implementing Section 108(h), “Last Twenty” collections, and other aspects of the copyright law.

Prof. Elizabeth
Townsend Gard

Tomi Aina
Law Student

Stan Sater
Law Student

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hundreds of thousands of books can now be liberated. Let’s bring the 20th century to 21st-century citizens. Everyone, rev your cameras!

MacArthur Foundation’s $100 Million Award Finalists

Today, the MacArthur Foundation announced the finalists for its 100&Change competition, awarding a single organization $100 million to solve one of the world’s biggest problems. The Internet Archive’s Open Libraries project, one of eight semifinalists, did not make the cut to the final round. Today we want congratulate the 100&Change finalists and thank the MacArthur Foundation for inspiring us to think big. For the last 15 months, the Internet Archive team has been building the partnerships that can transform US libraries for the digital age and put millions of ebooks in the hands of more than a billion learners. We’ve collaborated with the world’s top copyright experts to clarify the legal framework for libraries to digitize and lend their collections. And we’ve learned an amazing amount from the leading organizations serving the blind and people with disabilities that impact reading.  

To us, that feels like a win.

In the words of MacArthur Managing Director, Cecilia Conrad:

The Internet Archive project will unlock and make accessible bodies of knowledge currently located on library shelves across the country. The proposal for curation, with the selection of books driven not by commercial interests but by intellectual and cultural significance, is exciting. Though the legal theory regarding controlled digital lending has not been tested in the courts, we found the testimony from legal experts compelling. The project has an experienced, thoughtful and passionate team capable of redefining the role of the public library in the 21st Century.

Copyright scholar and Berkeley Law professor, Pam Samuelson (center), convenes a gathering of more than twenty legal experts to help clarify the legal basis for libraries digitizing and lending physical books in their collections.

So, the Internet Archive and our partners are continuing to build upon the 100&Change momentum. We are meeting October 11-13 to refine our plans, and we invite interested stakeholders to join us at the Library Leaders Forum. If you are a philanthropist interested in leveraging technology to provide more open access to information—well, we have a project for you.

For 20 years, at the Internet Archive we have passionately pursued one goal: providing universal access to knowledge. But there is almost a century of books missing from our digital shelves, beyond the reach of so many who need them. So we cannot stop. We now have the technology, the partners and the plan to transform library hard copies into digital books and lend them as libraries always have. So all of us building Open Libraries are moving ahead.

Members of the Open Libraries Team at the Internet Archive headquarters, part of a global movement to provide more equitable access to knowledge.

Remember: a century ago, Andrew Carnegie funded a vast network of public libraries because he recognized democracy can only exist when citizens have equal access to diverse information. Libraries are more important than ever, welcoming all of society to use their free resources, while respecting readers’ privacy and dignity. Our goal is to build an enduring asset for libraries across this nation, ensuring that all citizens—including our most vulnerable—have equal and unfettered access to knowledge.

Thank you, MacArthur Foundation, for inspiring us to turn that idea into a well thought-out project.

Onward!

–The Open Libraries Team

Open Library New Features and Fixes

OpenLibrary team has added pages for 200,000 new modern works and rolled out a brigade of fixes and features.

screen shot of book reader

Prioritized by feedback from openlibrary patrons,

  • Full-text search through all books hosted on the Internet Archive is back online and is faster than ever. You can try the new feature, for example, to see over 115,000 places where works reference Benjamin Franklin’s maxim: “Little strokes fell great oaks”.
  • Updated new Book Reader, which looks great on mobile devices and provides a much clearer and simpler book borrowing experience. Try out the new Book Reader and see for yourself!

There are a few small changes in the BookReader that we think you’ll like specifically. EPUB and PDF loans can be initiated from within an existing BookReader loan. What this means for Open Library users is two pretty cool things you’ve long requested:

  • Users who start loans from the BookReader can borrow either EPUB or PDF formats, and switch formats during the loan period.
  • Users who start loans from the BookReader can return loans early, even EPUBs and PDFs.

 

screen shot showing onscreen areas to download and return books

We hope these changes will delight readers, empower developers, and help the community to make even more quality contributions. The path ahead looks even more promising. With clear direction and exciting redesign concepts in the works, the Open Library team is eager to bring you an Open Library at the cutting edge of the 21st century while giving you access to five centuries’ of texts.

image from old reading textbook

Thank you to Jessamyn West, Brenton Cheng, Mek Karpeles, Giovanni Damiola, Richard Carceres, and the many volunteers in the community.

[from the Open Library blog]

Sharing Data for Better Discovery and Access

horizontal_logo_standard_Jan2015
The Internet Archive and the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) are pleased to announce a joint collaborative program to enhance sharing of collections from the Internet Archive in the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

ia-logo-220x221The Internet Archive will work with interested libraries and content providers to help ensure their metadata meets DPLA’s standards and requirements. After their content is digitized, the metadata would then be ready for ingestion into the DPLA if the content provider has a current DPLA provider agreement.

The DPLA is excited to collaborate with the Internet Archive in this effort to improve metadata quality overall, by making it more consistent with DPLA requirements, including consistent rights statements. Better data means better access. In addition to providing DPLA compliant metadata services, the Internet Archive also offers a spectrum of digital collection services, such as digitization, storage and preservation. Libraries, archives and museums who chose Internet Archive as their service provider have the added benefit of having their content made globally available through Internet Archive’s award winning portals, OpenLibrary.org and Archive.org.

“We are thrilled to be working with the DPLA”, states Robert Miller, Internet Archive General Manager of Digital Libraries. “With their emphasis on providing not only a portal and a platform, but also their advocacy for public access of content, they are a perfect partner for us”.

Rachel Frick, DPLA Business Development Director says, “The Internet Archive’s mission of ‘Universal Access to All Knowledge’, coupled with their end-to-end digital library solutions complements our core values.”

Program details are available upon request. Please contact:
Rachel Frick – DPLA Business Development Director, Rachel@dp.la
Robert Miller – General Manager of Digital Libraries, robert@archive.org

Popular subjects in our book collection

We took a leisurely stroll through half a million books today, and we noticed that lots of the books were congregating around some popular categories.  This isn’t an exhaustive list, we just thought it would nice to share a little of the landscape with you.  Click through to download or borrow these books through our Open Library site.

Why Publishers Support E-book Lending with OpenLibrary.org: A Q&A with Smashwords Mark Coker

Photo of Mark Coker

Mark Coker Founder, CEO Smashwords

This Q&A kicks off a series of conversations with visionary publishers who support e-book digital library lending with OpenLibrary.org.

Mark Coker, Founder, CEO and Chief Author Advocate, founded Smashwords  to change the way books are published, marketed and sold.  In just three years it has become the leading ebook publishing and distribution platform for independent authors and small publishers.  The Wall Street Journal named Mark Coker one of the “Eight Stars of Self-Publishing” in 2010. He is a contributing columnist for the Huffington Post, where he writes about ebooks and the future of publishing. For Smashwords updates, follow Mark on Twitter at @markcoker.

Q. What is the relationship between publishers and Open Library?

A: “There is an intersection of common interest with publishers and Open Library – the passionate desire to get books to readers. The innovators at Open Library understand that the way people access books is an ongoing evolution and they are at the forefront of finding solutions to support all the key stakeholders – publishers and distributors, authors and most of all, readers.

Q: How do Libraries help to support book distribution?

old man reading computer

“Its simple – the more readers have a chance to engage with a book, the more likely they are to recommend it, or purchase it.”


A: Open Library purchases your books and shares them with readers by creating a web page for each book, with a cover photo and descriptive information. There are prompts to read, borrow and buy. Open Library has more than 4,600,000 unique visitors a month.

Q: What makes Smashwords different from other publishing organizations?

A: Smashwords represents 19,000 indie authors and small presses who handle the writing, editing and pricing of their books. We distribute these titles to major retailers such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and Diesel. We believe that authors should maintain the creative and financial control of their work and receive the lion share of income. Our authors keep upwards of 85% of the profits on the books we distribute.

Q. Why are some publishers and authors excited about e-books accessed via public libraries?

“If you build it, they will come.”

A: Our authors and publishers rely on Smashwords to open up new opportunities to reach readers. We’re working with most of the biggest indie authors, and many of them are excited about libraries. Open Library and its partners believe, “if you build it, they will come and I agree.  As demand for ebooks through a digital public library systems increase, publishers will better understand the value of partnering with Open Library. We hope they utilize Smashwords to reach these new distribution venues.

Buying E-Books from Smashwords

Young Adult e-Books by Amanda Hocking available on OpenLibrary.org

Smashwords’ best-selling authors contribute to OpenLibrary.org

Smashwords, the largest distributor of independently published literature, recently provided the Internet Archive and OpenLibrary.org with its first installment of e-Books from best known, best-selling e-Book authors including: Young Adult sensation Amanda Hocking; Fantasy author, Brian Pratt; Romance novelist Ruth Ann Nordin; and Business Expert, Gerald Weinberg.

Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords believes that libraries are crucial to every publisher’s survival because they provide the face to face connection between readers, authors and books.

“We see tremendous value in partnering with the Internet Archive. Their visionary leadership is helping to create a worldwide digital public library.”
Mark Coker, CEO, Smashwords

The deposit by Smashwords was a first attempt at demonstrating the feasibility of making modern books more globally accessible through OpenLibrary.org. Next up – the creation of a new model that supports the on-going purchase of e-Books by participating libraries.

“The publishing world is rapidly changing,” asserts Coker, “There’s plenty of room for numerous distribution models and in my opinion, publishers should be bending over backwards to support these initiatives.”

Open Library Buying e-Books from Publishers

The Internet Archive is on campaign to buy e-Books from publishers and authors; making more digital books available to readers who prefer using laptops, reading devices or library computers.  Publishers such as Smashwords, Cursor and A Book Apart have already contributed e-Books to OpenLibrary.org – offering niche titles and the works of best-selling “indy” authors including Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrath.

“Libraries are our allies in creating the best range of discovery mechanisms for writers and readers—enabling open and browser-based lending through the OpenLibrary.org means more books for more readers, and we’re thrilled to do our part in achieving that.” – Richard Nash, founder of Cursor.

American libraries spend $3-4 billion a year on publisher’s materials.  OpenLibrary.org and its more than 150 partnering libraries around the US and the world are  leading the charge to increase their combined digital book catalog of 80,000+ (mostly 20th century) and 2 million+ older titles.

“As demand for e-Books increases, libraries are looking to purchase more titles to provide better access for their readers.” – Digital Librarian Brewster Kahle, Founder of the Internet Archive.

This new twist on the traditional lending model promises to increase e-book use and revenue for publishers. OpenLibrary.org offers an e-Book lending library and digitized copies of classics and older books as well as books in audio and DAISY formats for those qualified readers.