Albert Wan ran Bleak House Books, an independent bookstore in Hong Kong, for nearly five years, before closing it in late 2021. The changing political climate and crackdown on dissent within Hong Kong made life too uncertain for Wan, his wife and two children.
As they were preparing to move, Wan packed a box of books at risk of being purged by the government. He brought them on a plane back to the United States in January and donated them to the Internet Archive for preservation.
The collection includes books about the pro-democracy protests of 2019—some photography books; another was a limited edition book of essays by young journalists who covered the event. There was a book about the Tiananmen Square massacre and volumes about Hong Kong politics, culture and history—most written in Chinese.
“In Hong Kong, because the government is restricting and policing speech in a way that is even causing libraries to remove books from shelves, I thought that it would be good to digitize books about Hong Kong that might be in danger of disappearing entirely,” Wan said.
Hearing that Bleak House Books would be shutting its doors, the Internet Archive reached out and offered to digitize its remaining books. As it happens, Wan said his inventory was dwindling quickly. So, he gathered contributions from others, and along with some from his own collection, donated about thirty books and some periodicals to the Internet Archive for preservation and digitization. Wan said he was amazed at how flexible and open the Archive was in the process, assisting with shipping and scanning the materials at no cost to him. (See Hong Kong Community Collection.)
Now, Wan wants others to do the same.
“There are still titles out there that have never been digitized and might be on the radar for being purged or sort of hidden from public view,” Wan said. “The hope is that more people would contribute and donate those kinds of books to the Archive and have them digitized so that people still have access to them.”
Do you have books you’d like to donate to the Internet Archive? Learn more.
Wan said he likes how the Internet Archive operates using controlled digital lending (CDL) where the items can be borrowed one at time, not infringing on the rights of the authors, while providing broad public access.
Before his family moved to Hong Kong for his wife’s university teaching job, Wan was a civil rights and criminal defense attorney in private practice. Now, they are all getting settled in Rochester, New York, where Wan plans to open another bookshop.
The Internet Archive is proud to partner with Better World Books to support Ukrainian students and scholars. With a $1 donation at checkout during your purchase at betterworldbooks.com, you will help provide verifiable information to Ukrainian scholars all over the world through Wikipedia.
Since 2019, the Internet Archive has worked with the Wikipedia community to strengthen citations to published literature. Working in collaboration with Wikipedians and data scientists, Internet Archive has linked hundreds of thousands of citations in Wikipedia to books in our collection, offering Wikipedia editors and readers single-click access to the verifiable facts contained within libraries.
Recently, our engineers analyzed the citations in the Ukrainian-language Wikipedia, and were able to connect citations to more than 17,000 books that have already been digitized by the Internet Archive, such as the page for Геноміка (English translation: Genomics), which links to a science textbook published in 2002. Through this work, we discovered that there are more than 25,000 additional books that we don’t have in our collection—and that’s where you can help!
Now through the end of June, when you make a $1 donation at checkout during your purchase at betterworldbooks.com, your donation will go to acquire books that are cited in the Ukrainian-language Wikipedia. Books acquired will be donated to Internet Archive for digitization and preservation. Once digitized, the books will be linked from their citations in Wikipedia, offering readers the ability to check facts in published literature. Books will be available for borrowing by one person at a time at archive.org, and will also be available for scholars to request via interlibrary loan. With your help, we can ensure that Ukrainian scholars and people studying Ukraine have access to authoritative, factual information about Ukrainian history and culture.
Thank you for making a difference by buying books from Better World Books and helping Ukrainian students and scholars with your donation.
As a teenager in the 1940s, Ben Smith became a huge fan of swing and big-band music — especially the masterful Duke Ellington, known for the classics “Mood Indigo” and “Take the ‘A’ Train.”
Smith started collecting Ellington records in 78rpm format in high school and continued during World War II when he served in the Air Force stationed in various U.S. cities before being deployed to the Philippines and Japan. “That was my band, I was crazy about them,” he said of Ellington and his Orchestra, a centerpiece of his early swing jazz collection along with Benny Goodman, Woody Herman and other greats.
Now, the 95-year-old is sharing some of the music he collected and curated over the years with the world. Smith recently donated 300 of his beloved CDs, LPs and 78s to the Internet Archive, including a mix of classical, jazz, western swing, country, folk, and blues. A first set of the 78s is now online, and the remaining collection is queued for digitization.
“I thought somebody else should have access and be enjoying them,” said Smith, who lives in Austin, Texas. “I’m just thrilled. I’m the winner here.”
When Smith was in the hospital earlier this year, he talked with his family about what would happen to his music someday. His son, Mark Smith, recently retired as director and state librarian at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, suggested the Internet Archive could digitize the items and provide a permanent home.
“My dad isn’t a big Internet guy, so I took my computer over and showed him how it would work, and how people could listen to his music,” said Mark. “He was excited and thought it sounded wonderful.”
Mark then contacted Liz Rosenberg, donations manager at the Archive, who gave him instructions on how to ship the records and media to the Archive. He brought the CDs and records to the UPS store, where they were boxed up and sent. “It worked out great. It was easy,” said Mark.
Growing up, Mark says he was more into rock and folk music, but he understands how his dad’s generation loved the swing era and admired the musical genius of legends such as Ellington. Ben met Ellington once at a show in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1947. After the concert, he approached Ellington for an autograph, but his pen didn’t work. “He was so cordial and in his mellow voice said, ‘I have a pen’ and reached into his vest pocket and took out this beautiful pen and wrote his very ornate signature,” Ben recalls.
Born in Orange, Texas, in 1926, Ben was a staff artist at the University of Texas for 38 years. In his donation to the Archive, he included an illustration of Ellington he drew in the 1940s and a watercolor of longtime Ellington alto sax soloist Johnny Hodges.
Mark says he’s pleased to have his father’s collection featured alongside other digitized items available to the public.
“I think the Internet Archive is one of the coolest things on the whole internet – the Wayback Machine and all of the spoken word recordings, not to mention the vast Grateful Dead recordings,” said Mark Smith. “I’m very grateful to the Archive for taking in my dad’s collection, making it available and making my dad very, very happy.”
During the pandemic, perhaps you have been cleaning out some bookshelves in your house. Or maybe you are a librarian, planning to be back in your building for the first time in more than a year and restarting collection management activities.
If you are wondering what to do with your excess materials, the Internet Archive can help. The nonprofit library accepts donation books, records (CDs, LPs, 45rpm, 78rpm, cylinders), films, and microforms that it does not already have in its collection. The Archive preserves one copy of everything it receives and tries to find good homes for duplicates. Then, as funding allows, the Archive digitizes the materials and helps them reach a wider audience online.
At a recent webinar, staff from the Archive explained the process for donating and encouraged the public’s help as it works to provide universal access to everything ever published.
“No donation is too far away or small to be considered by the Internet Archive,” said Liz Rosenberg, donations manager. She has helped coordinate donations of entire libraries, including collections from Marygrove College in Detroit and Bay State College’s Boston Campus.
To find out more about what’s involved with physical donations, Rosenberg suggests going to the Help page for details about shipping instructions or dropping off donations smaller than about 20 boxes. All others are asked to complete a physical item donation form to provide all the information to make a larger donation happen, including where the items are located, an accurate count, and other special considerations for the offer.
Once submitted, staff begin the planning process to determine if the collection is in a format that can be accepted, if there are duplicates, and the project timeline. Arrangements then can be made for packing and shipping. In the case of larger collections, the Archive typically is able to provide assistance with transportation costs.
Sometimes donors pack their own items and then the Archive pays for the shipping. That was the case for a recent donation of 18,000 records from a music enthusiast in Washington D.C. The donor was looking for a “forever home” for his beloved vinyl and the Archive was happy to schedule a pickup and preserve the rare collection, Rosenberg said.
For donations of 50 or more items, the Archive can create a collection to both honor the donor and make their donation accessible all in one place. “The ability to access all of their media in one place really reassures our donors that they will still have access to their items even once they’re no longer in their physical possession,” said Rosenberg. Some stories behind major contributions are covered by the Archive in its blog.
Better World Books, a socially responsible bookstore that has a longstanding relationship with the Internet Archive, regularly donates books for preservation and digitization. It receives many of its books from library partners around the world. The Archive accepts many materials that BWB will not.
“We love more than anything to get large collections—entire intellectual units, such as a reference collection that is curated,” said Chris Freeland, a librarian who works at the Archive. “It helps us round out our collection, and helps our patrons. If someone has a collection that no longer fits their collection development priorities, think of Better World Book or the Internet Archive for those materials.”
The Archive is open to over-sized items, such as maps, and books that do not have to have an ISBN number. What about loose periodicals? The Archive does not want a few scattered issues but does have interest in long runs of a magazine.
Once digitized, patrons with print disabilities can access the materials and some are selected to be accessible via Controlled Digital Lending and for machine learning research. Together, we can achieve long term preservation and access to our collective cultural legacy.
Johnson & Wales University started as a business school in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1914, expanding over the years to offer 80 majors on multiple campuses.
In June 2021, declining enrollment led JWU to consolidate, closing its North Miami and Denver locations. This left the future of the university’s library collection at those sites in limbo. To save the collection, JWU Denver donated 33,000 books—primarily from its culinary and hospitality programs—to the Internet Archive to be preserved, digitized and many will be lent digitally.
Merrie Valliant, director of library services at JWU’s campus in Denver, curated the rich collection, encompassing titles dating back to the early 1900s. The hospitality section contains books on all aspects of the hotel and restaurant business including management, leadership, and accounting. There are books on menu planning, food science and nutrition. And the assortment of cookbooks covers global cuisines and novelties, including Balinese and Indonesian food, an Antarctic expedition cookbook from 1945 with recipes for penguins and walruses—and even books on just a single ingredient, such as strawberries.
“We had cookbooks from all countries, all states and every continent. If someone were to look for an interesting recipe of Jamaican jerk or a good creole recipe from Louisiana, they would be able to find it,” Valliant said.
With JWU’s 12,000 students only attending classes now in Providence, Rhode Island, and Charlotte, North Carolina, the library needed to downsize, and donating was the best option, Valiant said. In addition to the hospitality books, the donation included books on sports and event management, as well as books on criminal justice, business, law, history and fashion design.
The collection is clearly a treasure, said Liz Rosenberg, manager of donations for the Internet Archive.
“Merrie had been the librarian caring for these books for the past 20 years and she shared her hope that more students might be able to continue being inspired by the collection,” Rosenberg said. “Her dedication to the library at the Johnson and Wales Denver campus and her students was what got the Internet Archive so excited about preserving this great collection. We are pleased it can live on digitally.”
In May, Valliant, student workers, and volunteers helped fill more than 900 boxes with books from the Denver library. The 45 pallets were transported to the Internet Archive where they will be preserved and queued for scanning. “I had cataloged and touched almost every book on the shelf,” Valliant said. “It really was difficult to watch it being driven away. It felt like a family saying goodbye to a distinct part of their life.”
Yet, the books will have a future audience for years to come.
“The Internet Archive is going to keep it alive,” Valliant said. “It’s truly the library of the future where you can access it 24/7/365 when you need it. I think it’s wonderful that we’ve been able to contribute to that collection of information.”
If you have a collection that you would like to make available to all, the Internet Archive would be happy to preserve and digitize your materials:
Check out our help center article for more information about donating physical items to the Internet Archive.
Ever wonder what it looked like inside the old concert halls of London? Curious to learn about the English folk tradition of mummering, where people dress up in disguise and perform in plays in their neighborhoods?
Soon readers all over the world will be able to dive in and learn more once nearly 1,000 books about theater history from the 18th and 19th centuries are online. The collection was recently donated by the Hamilton Public Library (HPL) in Ontario to the Internet Archive for digitization.
“Through our partnership, we are just so appreciative that the Internet Archive is able to make the collection available to the world 24/7,” said Lisa Weaver, director of collections and program development at HPL.
The rich array of books was given to HPL in 1984 by a local university drama professor who was interested in the cultural history of the theater. The collection includes books on the technical details of theater, such as lighting and staging, different actors and playwrights in the theatre community, as well as architecture of various types of British and American theaters.
Because some of the donated books were written by the donor, the availability of the entire collection allows interested researchers to follow the evolution of an author’s perspective on a subject. “The ability to trace the history of thought and ideas is a powerful tool,” said Ryan Johnston, archivist of local history and archives at HPL. “This helps achieve one of the original promises of the Internet, namely as a vehicle for democratizing thought—making knowledge as broadly accessible as possible by removing many of the geographical and physical barriers.”
The Canadian library was doing a standard periodic review of its holdings, when it was determined the collection of American and British material did not fit within the public library’s mandate, which focuses primarily on works from the Hamilton area. The library contacted several university libraries and theater archives to find a new home for the collection, but ultimately decided the Internet Archive would provide access to the broadest audience.
“In the stewardship of collections, it’s a fine balance between what you can accept and what you can realistically store,” Johnston said. For HPL, it made more sense to donate to the Internet Archive, which could take a physical copy of a book, digitize it, and put it online for interested readers no matter their location. “This way we are doing both good collections management and also increasing accessibility,” he said.
HPL donated more than 70 boxes of books on two pallets, which were transported by the Internet Archive to its physical archive facilities. After the books are digitized, the print copies will be put in long-term storage out of circulation, and the digital books will be made available through controlled digital lending. The books cover a wide variety of topics including theater construction, history of traveling troupes, theater lighting in the age of gas, the art of scenic design and other aspects of the evolution of the theater.
Johnston said he expects the books will appeal to anyone with an interest in the theater, including historians, researchers and the general public. Although there was a time when physically holding everything was the way to ensure long term preservation, Johnston encourages others to look at the opportunity of partnering with the Internet Archive to digitize materials.
“It’s important that any institution—whether that’s a library, archive or museum—do a reappraisal of their collection and take a hard look at their options,” Johnston said. “If anything, the pandemic has taught me that people are really looking for material to be as easily accessible as possible. The more memory institutions can do that, the better.”
If you have a collection that you would like to make available to all, the Internet Archive would be happy to preserve and digitize your materials:
Check out our help center article for more information about donating physical items to the Internet Archive.
Register now for our upcoming webinar about our physical donations program – May 27, 2021 @ 1pm ET
Bay State College’s Boston Campus has donated its entire undergraduate library to the Internet Archive so that the digital library can preserve and scan the books, while allowing Bay State to gain much needed open space for student collaboration. By donating and scanning its 11,000-volume collection centered on fashion, criminal justice, allied health, and business books, Bay State’s Boston campus decided to “flip entirely to digital.”
When it came to what to do with the books, Jessica Neave, librarian at Bay State College, had to get creative. “I didn’t have a library close by willing to take our collection,” Neave explained. Shortly after reaching out to our partners at Better World Books, she stumbled upon the Inside Higher Education article about the Marygrove College Library donation. This led Neave to our physical item donation form, where she laid out her library’s tight timeline to deaccession its entire print collection. “You guys made it so easy,” Bay State’s librarian said. “It couldn’t have been any easier!”
Under the direction of Neave, an Internet Archive team packed and shipped the 11,000 books in the first week of December.
Considering the future of Bay State’s books, its librarian is hopeful, noting, “Thanks to the Internet Archive, the books can live on as a cohesive collection.” Patrons can look forward to thumbing through historic fashion and textile books, texts on the history of the Civil Rights Movement, graphic novels, and even Bay State’s collection of historically banned young adult books.
Looking around your home in the new year and wondering what to do with all the stuff you’ve accumulated? You’re not alone — turns out 54% of Americans are overwhelmed by the amount of clutter around them. As people move or downsize, they are often in a dilemma about what to do with their beloved books and records. The same goes for colleges and libraries when they close or relocate. So what’s a preservation-minded person or organization supposed to do with their extra books, records, or other media?
The Internet Archive is here to help! We welcome donations with open arms — from single books to entire libraries. The Internet Archive seeks to preserve and digitize one copy of every book, record, CD, film, and microfilm in support of our mission to provide “Universal Access to All Knowledge.”
“Increasingly, people are turning to the Internet Archive to preserve materials and give them new life online,” said Liz Rosenberg, donation manager. “Staff members can even help to arrange for a convenient pick up of larger donations.”
“We are always looking for items that we don’t have already or ones that are in better shape,” said Rosenberg, who encourages people to check online, if convenient, if a copy is needed. For large collections or donations with special circumstances, Internet Archive will go onsite to pack and ship items at no expense to the donor. “Our goal is to make this process easy for donors.”
Internet Archive receives a variety of materials from individuals and organizations. Boxes can be mailed to facilities in Richmond, California, or brought to drop off locations in the U.S. and England. The Archive tries to digitize materials and make them available publicly, as funding allows.
Recent personal donations have included a collection of railroad maps and atlases from the 1800s. Also, a large collection of fragile 78rpm records was donated by a person in Washington, D.C., and 18,000 LP, 45, and 78 records were donated from a home in Arkansas.
We are happy to give donors a receipt for tax purposes and celebrate the donation on the archive.org site if appropriate.
“We would love to provide a forever home for your media wherever you are located, however much you have,” said Rosenberg. “I love doing this role. It restores my faith in the goodness of the world every day.”
When Marygrove College in Detroit decided to close its doors in 2019 due to financial pressures, the first question on the minds of many community members was: what about the library? Today, the entire Marygrove College community is celebrating the reopening of the Marygrove College Library in partnership with the Internet Archive.
Marygrove College’s roots go back to 1905 when it was started by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a progressive Catholic order known for its commitment to social justice. Founded as a women’s institution, it became co-ed and predominantly African American over time, changing with the demographics of its neighborhood in northwest Detroit.
The liberal arts college, which typically had an enrollment of less than 1,000, attracted students interested in teacher education and social work programs, as well as English, history, philosophy and religious studies. The college offered graduate programs and some alumni went on to become physicians, lawyers and scientists.
True to its mission, Marygrove often served students from marginalized communities with limited means. Changes in access to federal Pell grants hurt the institution’s finances, and enrollment dwindled in recent years.
“The college was deeply in debt. Like many small colleges, institutional scholarships don’t pay the bills. The school was borrowing to make payroll. It was not a good picture,” says Marygrove President Elizabeth Burns. “With great sorrow, the board voted in summer 2017 to close undergraduate programs.”
The institution tried to survive by offering only graduate programs – many online. But that model proved to be unsustainable. In December of 2019, Marygrove closed its doors for good.
“It was very difficult,” says Frank Rashid, who taught English at the college for 37 years and lives within a mile of the campus. “It was a great place to teach. Despite our size and obscurity, we had a strong faculty and great students.”
As the college emptied its buildings, the fate of Marygrove’s beloved library was up in the air. No other library was able to house the entire collection, which included more than 70,000 books and 3,000 journals, in addition to microfilm, maps, visual media, and more. The college explored selling the books, but buyers were only interested in portions of the collection. Even disposing of the library content would cost thousands of dollars that the college couldn’t afford.
Marygrove’s solution: Donate the entire library to the Internet Archive for digitization and preservation.
“We were able to preserve the entire collection that we had built over the decades and make it available to everyone,” Burns says.
“There was a sense that all was not lost,” Burns says. “The legacy of the collection will be available for ongoing education. That really helped ease the pain of the transition.”
The library had a rich collection of books in history (particularly primary sources on local Detroit studies and Michigan), English, philosophy, religious studies, social work, political science, economics, psychology, business and social justice.
“The library was the best kept secret at Marygrove,” says Brenda Bryant, who started the nation’s first master’s degree program in social justice at the college 20 years ago. While the closure of the building was heartbreaking, she says having the collection digitized provides access to its great array of nonfiction and fiction books (such as The God of Small Things by Arhundati Roy) , as well as films about social justice movements.
Byrant says the college was ahead of its time in recognizing the importance of studying these issues. With racial equity, immigration and other social justice issues so relevant today, she hopes people will take the opportunity to read about the history of prior movements.
The value of the collection extends well beyond the Marygrove community. Librarians from Wayne State University, also located in Detroit, share an admiration for Marygrove’s collection and decision to digitize.
“Marygrove has been fundamental for Detroit in educating first-generation, low-income college students and providing high quality education to the community,” says Alexandra Sarkcozy, a liaison librarian for history at Wayne State. “The librarians built a robust academic collection and took beautiful care of it. I think it’s wonderful that it was able to be preserved.”
And, as Wayne State thinks about how to lend out its own digital materials, it may consider Controlled Digital Lending as a model, adds Sarkcozy, which is how the Marygrove collections are being made available to users.
Using Controlled Digital Lending practices with the Marygrove collections—lending out a digital copy one at a time—felt like a responsible way to continue to provide access, says Burns. And rare materials that aren’t traditionally prioritized are not lost to history.
Rashid says he was initially reluctant to let go of the print materials, but realized that digital lending opened up the possibility of access around the globe. “We are trying to share resources with scholars and students elsewhere,” says Rashid, noting it also has the additional convenience of researchers being able to look up information from home.
The Archive hired local help to pack up the Marygrove books, load them onto trucks, and transport them to centers for storage and scanning. The empty library was repurposed as a lecture hall, sports facility and cafeteria for a new high school that now operates on the campus.
Mary Kickham-Samy served as the director of the library at Marygrove from 2017 until its closure in December 2019. She was glad to see the collection donated intact and thinks alumni, in particular, will enjoy browsing through the library. “It’s beautiful the way Internet Archive has captured the materials…It’s just a win-win situation,” said Kickham-Samy, who is grateful that community members and researchers everywhere will now have access to the collection.
“When I heard Marygrove was going to be closing, it broke my heart,” said Valerie Deering, a poet and 1972 graduate of Marygrove. Deering didn’t fully realize what it would mean to digitize the library until she started browsing the collection online. “Actually seeing it now—this was a stroke of genius. This Internet library stuff is a pretty good idea.”
As the global pandemic forced schools to remote instruction earlier this year, the pressure was on to make as many resources as possible available in digital form.
Evangelical Seminary moved its classes entirely online in March, closing most of its campus in Myerstown, Pennsylvania—including access to materials in the library. At the same time, the seminary was finalizing a partnership with three other higher education institutions that prompted a review of any resource duplication.
So, in July, Evangelical decided to transform its physical library collection into a digital library and donate more than 80,000 books to the Internet Archive.
“Faculty members love the feel of a hard copy book and taking a book off the shelf in the library,” says Anthony Blair, president of the seminary. “It was hard and we had to talk that through, but everybody agreed this was a smart thing to do and in the end, it was what’s best for students.”
Once scanned and digitized, students—and the public at large—will have free access to the books at any time from anywhere. Many of the volumes were out of print and fragile. The donation allows the seminary’s vast collection, with its specialities in biblical studies and Wesleyan theology, to be preserved.
“We took advantage of this opportunity. It’s a donation, but we still have access to all these books. They have better access than before—and so do people around the world,” Blair says. “It just made sense.”
At Evangelical, students were increasingly commuting to campus or taking online courses only; some living as far away as Singapore and Korea. The seminary sold its residential housing five years ago because of the shifting demographics.
Evangelical offers eight graduate degree programs including a doctorate of theology, master of divinity and master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. About 150 of its students are seeking a degree (about 90 on the PhD path) and another 50 are taking courses independently.
The seminary had recently begun serving a wider constituency and joined The Digital Theological Library (DTL) to give students easier access to resources. As usage grew with DTL, Blair says talk ramped up about moving to an all-digital library.
Also, Evangelical recently joined a seminary network, Kairos, headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and is in the process of fully merging within the next few years. As the schools come together and combine resources, the timing was right to make the donation. This summer it took less than two weeks for the books to be packed, loaded into trucks and shipped for scanning—all paid for by the Internet Archive.
The seminary has shared news of its move to an all-digital library with alumni, donors and students, all of whom have been overwhelmingly positive, says Blair. As students wait for the collection to be moved online over the next two years, the seminary is partnering with two physical libraries for interlibrary loan services.Blair says he was pleased to have Evangelical’s collection join the Claremont School of Theology’s donation from earlier this year: “Between our donation and their donation, the theology collection at the Internet Archive will be enhanced quite a bit and our students will benefit.”