Tag Archives: libraries

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.

MY ONLINE MEMORY–Guest Curating the Archive by Jessamyn West

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 6.22.45 PMI work at the Internet Archive via the Open Library project but I was a crate digger here long before that. My earliest memories of the Archive are using the Wayback Machine to find old copies of my first web sites (many now lost to 302 redirects) and other memory-holed content. I lived on the West Coast, was fresh out of library school at the University of Washington and used my nascent blog to yammer on about, among other things, all the great free culture stuff on the Web. The old links to my blog still work but the same can’t be said for an incredible amount of content online. The Internet Archive is the online memory for many of us.

I use the internet to make the local global, and vice versa. Here are some other things I love at the Internet Archive.

Maps of Home (and elsewhere)

I can see my house from here.

I can see my house from here.

My home in Vermont is in a bit of an Internet shadow. This is the good news and the bad news. One of the things this means is that if I want to go hiking or exploring, there may not be a ready online resource I can consult for trail and terrain maps. USGS maps are supposedly free but getting access to them used to be complicated if not impossible. Enter the Libre Map Project where a team of people donated money and time and resources to make USGS maps of all fifty states available and searchable from one central location at the Internet Archive. Oh hey look, there’s a review by me from 2009.

Family Histories (mine and others’)

The last Joseph Thomas West listed on this page is my grandfather. Joseph Thomas West IV was my dad. I found this book once before, digging through Massachusetts libraries shortly after college. I had a bunch of its pages stuffed into a folder someplace. It was a joy to find it again.

page from the town history of princeton

On the other side of my family, my great-grandparents were just arriving in the US at the turn of the last century. Accessing the US Census through the Archive means I could track them as they moved from New Jersey to New York and back out to New Jersey. Morris is my grandfather. In the 1910 census he was six years old.

census form with Cohon names on it.

The Archive has a wealth of searchable and downloadable family history books many of which are unavailable elsewhere online.

Ten+ years of Matisyahu shows

Live at Red Rocks

Live at Red Rocks

For Hannukah or any time, Matisyahu’s hazzan-esque lyrical reggae rapping is a tonic for a hectic life. Even better to listen to (and easier to embed) with the newer version of the Archive’s site. I keep this on background when I answer Open Library emails and do other keyboard-intensive work. Thanks to Matisyahu for allowing the Archive to store and distribute his music as part of their extensive Live Music Archive.


Mole people!

Mole people!

Steam powered color printing!

Steam powered color printing!

Rolling along modern style

Rolling along modern style







When the BookReader was first released as a way for people to read books online using a book-like interface, it was way ahead of the curve. The online reading experience has improved elsewhere but the Archive is still one of the first places I go to find public domain content (books and magazines) to read, share, answer reference questions, or just use in my presentations. So many libraries in North and South America (or Canada specifically) and Africa have great collections at the Archive from the Biodiversity Heritage Library to New York Public Library to the US National Library of Medicine to 13,000 books in Arabic. Comics! Creepy magazines! Yearbooks! Encyclopedias and dictionaries!

And all of it is available for anyone, for free, whenever they want it.

Happy travels!

Happy travels!

Jessamyn West is a librarian and community technologist. She helps run the Internet Archive’s Open Library project and writes a column for Computers in Libraries magazine. She works with small libraries and businesses in Central Vermont to help them use technology to solve problems.

In-Library eBook Lending Program Expands to 1,000 Libraries

Internet Archive announces 1,000 Library Partners from 6 countries have joined to build and lend a pool of 100,000+ eBooks; Extending the Traditional In-Library Lending Model.

San Francisco, CA – Today, the Internet Archive announced that the 1,000th library from 6 countries has joined its In-Library eBook Lending Program. Led by the Internet Archive, patrons may borrow eBooks from a new, cooperative 100,000+ eBook lending collection of mostly 20th century books on OpenLibrary.org, a site where it’s already possible to read over 1 million eBooks without restriction. During a library visit, patrons with an OpenLibrary.org account can borrow any of these lendable eBooks using laptops, reading devices or library computers. This new twist on the traditional lending model could increase eBook use and revenue for publishers.

“As readers go digital, so are our libraries,” said Brewster Kahle, founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. “To grow from 150 great, forward-thinking libraries in Feb. 2011 to 1,000 libraries today, suggests that there is a true need for this type of program. We, as libraries,  want to buy eBooks to lend to our patrons.” (See the partial list of participating libraries below.)

This new digital lending system will enable patrons of participating libraries to read books in a web browser. “In Silicon Valley, iPads and other reading devices are hugely popular. Our partnership with the Internet Archive and OpenLibrary.org is crucial to achieving our mission — to meet the reading needs of our library visitors and our community,” said Linda Crowe, Executive Director of the Peninsula Library System.

A recent survey of libraries across North America was conducted by Unisphere Research and Information Today, Inc. (ITI). It reported that of the 1,201 libraries canvassed, 73% are seeing increased demand for digital resources with 67% reporting increased demand for wireless access and 62% seeing a surge in demand for web access.

American libraries spend $3-4 billion each year on publishers’ products. “I’m not suggesting we spend less, I am suggesting we spend smarter by buying and lending more eBooks,” asserted Kahle. He is also encouraging libraries worldwide to join in the expansion of this pool of purchased and digitized eBooks so their patrons can borrow from this larger collection.

How It Works
Any OpenLibrary.org account holder can borrow up to 5 eBooks at a time, for up to 2 weeks. Books can only be borrowed by one person at a time. People can choose to borrow either an in-browser version (viewed using the Internet Archive’s BookReader web application), or a PDF or ePub version, managed by the free Adobe Digital Editions software. This new technology follows the lead of the Google eBookstore, which sells books from many publishers to be read using Google’s books-in-browsers technology. Readers can use laptops, library computers and tablet devices, including the iPad.

What Participating Libraries Are Saying
The reasons for joining the initiative vary from library to library. Judy Russell, Dean of University Libraries at the University of Florida, said, “We have hundreds of books that are too brittle to circulate. This digitize-and-lend system allows us to provide access to these older books without endangering the physical copy.”

“Libraries are our allies in creating the best range of discovery mechanisms for writers and readers…”
Richard Nash
Founder of Cursor, Publisher

Digital lending also offers wider access to one-of-a-kind or rare books on specific topics such as family histories — popular with genealogists. This pooled collection will enable libraries like the Boston Public Library and the Allen County Public Library in Indiana to share their materials with genealogists around the state, the country and the world.

“Genealogists are some of our most enthusiastic users, and the Boston Public Library holds some genealogy books that exist nowhere else,” said Amy E. Ryan, President of the Boston Public Library. “This lending system allows our users to search for names in these books for the first time, and allows us to efficiently lend some of these books to visitors at distant libraries.”

“Reciprocal sharing of genealogy resources is crucial to family history research. The Allen County Public Library owns the largest public genealogy collection in the country, and we want to make our resources available to as many people as possible. Our partnership in this initiative offers us a chance to reach a wider audience,” said Jeffrey Krull, Director of the Allen County Public Library.

Publishers selling their eBooks to participating libraries include Cursor and OR Books. Books purchased will be lent to readers as well as being digitally preserved for the long-term. This continues the traditional relationship and services offered by publishers and libraries.

Jo Budler, Kansas State Librarian, comments, “Kansas librarians are very excited about offering this downloadable service to the residents of Kansas.  Historically Kansas librarians have been strong supporters of collaborative endeavors.  This project fits very nicely with projects undertaken in the past, and with the desire to continue to offer excellent customer service and new services into the future.”

“Creating digital structures that support access to content through public libraries is imperative. The Digital In-Library Lending project is a beginning. California is delighted to be involved a project that will create more online access to content for Californians” said Californian State Librarian Stacey Aldrich.

John Oakes, founder of OR Books, said, “We’re always on the lookout for innovative solutions to solve the conundrum of contemporary publishing, and we are excited to learn about the Internet Archive’s latest project. For us, it’s a way to extend our reach to the crucial library market. We look forward to the results.”

For More Information
Here are some eBooks that are only available to people in participating libraries.
Libraries interested in partnering in this program should contact: info@archive.org.
To use this service, please visit a participating library:


List of Participating Libraries

Aboite Branch Library, Allen County Public Library

Dupont Branch Library, Allen County Public Library

Georgetown Branch Library, Allen County Public Library

Grabill Branch Library, Allen County Public Library

Hessen Cassel Branch Library, Allen County Public Library

Little Turtle Branch Library, Allen County Public Library

Main Library, Allen County Public Library

Monroeville Branch Library, Allen County Public Library

New Haven Branch Library, Allen County Public Library

Pontiac Branch Library, Allen County Public Library

Shawnee Branch Library, Allen County Public Library

Tecumseh Branch Library, Allen County Public Library

Waynedale Branch Library, Allen County Public Library

Woodburn Branch Library, Allen County Public Library

Adams Street Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Brighton Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Charlestown Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Codman Square Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Connolly Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Dudley Branch Library, Boston Public Library

East Boston Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Egleston Square Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Faneuil Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Fields Corner Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Grove Hall Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Honan-Allston Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Hyde Park Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Jamaica Plain Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Lower Mills Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Mattapan Branch Library, Boston Public Library

North End Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Orient Heights Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Parker Hill Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Roslindale Branch Library, Boston Public Library

South Boston Branch Library, Boston Public Library

South End Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Uphams Corner Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Washington Village Branch Library, Boston Public Library

West End Branch Library, Boston Public Library

West Roxbury Branch Library, Boston Public Library

Internet Archive

MBLWHOI Library, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Atherton Library, Atherton, California

Bay Shore Library, Daly City, California

Belmont Library, Belmont, California

Brisbane Library, Brisbane, California

Burlingame Public Library, Burlingame, California

Burlingame Library Easton Branch, Burlingame, California

Cañada College Library, Redwood City, California

College of San Mateo Library, San Mateo, California

East Palo Alto Library, East Palo Alto, California

Fair Oaks Library, Redwood City, California

Foster City Library, Foster City, California

Grand Avenue Branch Library, South San Francisco, California

Half Moon Bay Library, Half Moon Bay, California

Hillsdale Branch Library, San Mateo, California

John Daly Library, Daly City, California

Marina Public Library, San Mateo, California

Menlo Park Library, Menlo Park, California

Menlo Park Library Belle Haven Branch, Menlo Park, California

Millbrae Library, Millbrae, California

Pacifica Sanchez Library, Pacifica, California

Pacifica Sharp Park Library, Pacifica, California

Portola Valley Library, Portola Valley, California

Redwood City Public Library, Redwood City, California

Redwood Shores Branch Library, Redwood City, California

San Bruno Library, San Bruno, California

San Carlos Library, San Carlos, California

San Mateo Public Library, San Mateo, California

Schaberg Library, Redwood City, California

Serramonte Main Library, Daly City, California

Skyline College Library, San Bruno, California

South San Francisco Public Library, South San Francisco, California

Westlake Library, Daly City, California

Woodside Library, Woodside, California

Anza Branch, San Francisco Public Library

Bayview/Anna E. Waden Branch, San Francisco Public Library

Bernal Heights, San Francisco Public Library

Chinatown/Him Mark Lai Branch, San Francisco Public Library

Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch, San Francisco Public Library

Excelsior, San Francisco Public Library

Glen Park Branch, San Francisco Public Library

Golden Gate Valley Branch, San Francisco Public Library

Ingleside Branch, San Francisco Public Library

San Francisco Public Library, Main

Marina, San Francisco Public Library

Merced Branch Library, San Francisco Public Library

Mission, San Francisco Public Library

Mission Bay, San Francisco Public Library

Noe Valley/Sally Brunn Branch, San Francisco Public Library

North Beach Branch, San Francisco Public Library

Ocean View, San Francisco Public Library

Ortega, San Francisco Public Library

Park Branch, San Francisco Public Library

Parkside, San Francisco Public Library

Portola Branch, San Francisco Public Library

Potrero Branch, San Francisco Public Library

Presidio Branch, San Francisco Public Library

Richmond/Senator Milton Marks Branch, San Francisco Public Library

Sunset, San Francisco Public Library

Visitacion Valley, San Francisco Public Library

West Portal, San Francisco Public Library

Western Addition, San Francisco Public Library

The Urban School of San Francisco

Augustana Campus Library, University of Alberta

Bibliothèque Saint-Jean (BSJ), University of Alberta

Cameron Library, University of Alberta

Herbert T. Coutts (Education & Physical Education) Library, University of Alberta

Rutherford Library, University of Alberta

John A. Weir Memorial Law Library, University of Alberta

John W. Scott Health Sciences Library, University of Alberta

Winspear Business Reference Library, University of Alberta

Architecture and Fine Arts Library, University of Florida

Education Library, University of Florida

Health Science Center Library, University of Florida

Borland Library, University of Florida

Veterinary Medicine Reading Room, University of Florida

Allen H. Neuharth Journalism and Communications Library, University of Florida

Library West, University of Florida

Marston Science Library, University of Florida

Mead Library, University of Florida

Music Library, University of Florida

Smathers Library (East), University of Florida

Robarts Library, University of Toronto

Gerstein Science Information Centre, University of Toronto

Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, Victoria University

E J Pratt Library, Victoria University

Emmanuel College Library, Victoria University