This week, two major library organizations affirmed their commitment to the longstanding and widespread library practice of digitizing physical books they own and lending out secured digital versions. The practice, controlled digital lending (CDL), is the digital equivalent of traditional library lending.
ARL and SPARC collectively represent over 300 academic and research libraries in the U.S. and Canada. ARL advocates on behalf of research libraries and home institutions on many issues and its members include government institutions, including the National Library of Medicine and the National Archives, as well as the continent’s largest land grant institutions and Ivy League colleges. SPARC focuses on enabling the open sharing of research outputs and educational materials, arguing that such access democratizes access to information knowledge and increases the return on investment in research and education.
Announcing their support, SPARC said, “CDL plays an important role in many libraries, and has been particularly critical to many academic and research libraries as they work to support students, faculty, and researchers through this pandemic.” SPARC also issued a call to action to others in the library community to add their support.
Scholars will soon have online access to 250,000 research volumes from a premier theological school, thanks to a donation from the Claremont School of Theology to the Internet Archive.
Strengths of the collection include Comparative Theology and Philosophy, Feminist Theology, and Afro-Carribean spirituality. In addition to the 250,000 volumes, the library is donating its Ancient Biblical Manuscripts Collection, the world’s largest collection of images of ancient religious (Jewish and Christian, biblical and extra-biblical) manuscripts, currently housed on microfilm. Half to three quarters of the collection contains images of manuscripts which are not currently available on the web from any provider.
The donation stems from a 2019 decision by Claremont, an independent theological school in Southern California, to affiliate with Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.
Claremont students began making the transition to studying in Oregon in the fall of 2019.
The cross-state move also required relocating the institution’s Religious Studies research collection. Unfortunately, a large percentage of religious studies materials only exist in print and many tomes are out of print.
The institution’s board worried about cutting scholars off during the move. Physical materials can be lent between research institutions via interlibrary loan, but that leaves unaffiliated researchers without access. And public health concerns during the COVID-19 crisis have given these arrangements an uncertain future.
So the Board of Trustees authorized a donation to the Internet Archive so the 250,000 piece collection could be placed in the Internet Archive’s Open Library for controlled digital lending, and the Ancient Biblical Manuscripts Collection can be mobilized and made available online. The Internet Archive will find funding for the digitization and long-term preservation of the collections.
Controlled digital lending allows a library to digitize a book it owns and lend out a secured digital version to one user at a time, in place of the physical item.
“Claremont School of Theology is delighted to partner with the Internet Archive in making accessible these prized collections of a research library for the general public,” said Dr. Jeffrey Kuan, President of Claremont School of Theology and Professor of Hebrew Bible. “Our alumni/ae are excited that they will soon have access again to the library that they had come to treasure as students.”
”The CST board approved this donation in large measure to increase global access to religious studies scholarship,” said Thomas E. Phillips, Dean of the Library at Claremont School of Theology when announcing the donation. “These volumes include many very important and very recent resources in the field.”
“The Internet Archive is delighted to add this important religious studies research collection to its Open Library program and make it widely available to scholars. This donation shows how a growing number of libraries are focusing on providing controlled digital lending access to their collections, to ensure legally purchased, library-owned and library-borrowed materials are available to researchers, readers and scholars regardless of where they live,” said Brewster Kahle, Digital Librarian and Founder of the Internet Archive.
For the last eight weeks, our 78s Dating Team has been combing through the history of musical recordings. Among our 78s collection of 188,000 sides sat a backlog of 40,000 discs in need of more data. Our team of book scanners, locked out of their libraries, got to work, pouring through guides to find a review or publication date. Often, discographies revealed nothing. That’s when our team turned to web sleuthing. What we discovered is that behind each disc lies a story—sometimes hidden, mostly forgotten with the passage of time, often magical.
Released in 1966, just two years after the original version written by Van Morrison was released by Them, this version of Gloria is a cover completely in Spanish. The long list of covers of this song throughout history, including versions by Patti Smith and The Doors, rarely includes this version. Gloria provides strong evidence that rock and roll music had gone global by the mid-1960s.
Giter Bruder nicht gechapt is a Yiddish theatre song from 1907. According to the translation, this song is about how to deal with sexual harassment, as told by cis-female, cross-dressing Yiddish Vaudeville star, Pepi Litman (1874-1930).
The chorus, roughly translated:
Good brother, don’t grab, grabbing is no good.
If you grab I’ll hit you back, I’ll beat you bloody.
Oy, you’ll get beaten up, your head will fall off.
Then you’ll know, young man: if you grab, you’ll get burnt.
Pepi was known for performing in men’s clothing on stage and is often considered a proto-Drag King. Really cool to find such an early example of drag performance, from a Jewish vaudeville performer popular more than 100 years ago!
Sister Rosetta Tharpe is often considered the “Godmother” of Rock and Roll guitar and singing. Rock and Roll pioneers, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis credit Sister Rosetta for inspiring their musical styles. But Sister Rosetta has only recently been recognized for her contribution to the genre—inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just two years ago.
A guitar prodigy in her church community, Sister Rosetta became a household name in gospel music at a young age and ruffled feathers when she transitioned to more secular music. At a time when it was difficult to be a Black, female, electric guitar player, Sister Rosetta broke every conceivable boundary on her road to success. On an early tour across the United States she had a kitchen and beds installed in what may have been the first music tour bus. Why? Many venues would not allow her to have a meal in their establishment because she was Black. Just like her powerful voice, Sister Rosetta was a force of nature that could not be stopped.
You may know Pandit Ravi Shankar as the sitar virtuoso who taught George Harrison of The Beatles how to play the sitar. While dating the 78s, we stumbled upon this fantastic record featuring Shankar’s absolute mastery of the sitar. Pressed in Pakistan and recorded in India, this 78 recording is a rare gem.
Known as “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas,” Sophie Tucker was an amazing vaudeville/Jazz/Jewish singer who was hugely popular in the 1910s-1930s. She toured internationally and often played to Jewish crowds, singing in Yiddish. Her Yiddish records were banned during Hitler’s era for evoking Jewish culture. Tucker had a lengthy career in show business even after the vaudeville era died out, performing up until just weeks before her death in 1966 at the age of 80. This is a 1951 re-recording of a song from her heyday, originally recorded in 1927.
This is probably the wildest song I have found in the 78s collection! So wild in fact that it was banned from all major radio networks as “immoral and wicked.” What radio censors didn’t understand was that Ingle was poking fun at smokers, drinkers and philanderers. Thanks to their ban, his single became a big hit. Red Ingle is one of the more prolific novelty and comedy performers of the late 1940s and early 1950s, having started with Spike Jones and His City Slickers. Enjoy this lovingly restored version!
This record comes from a complete set of Balinese gamelan music from 1928. Gamelan is a type of percussion ensemble traditional to the Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese cultures. Described as music for temple festivals and death rituals, the set is the first and only commercially released Balinese music prior to World War II. We were able to find the descriptions captured by the ethnomusicologist who recorded this set and even found films made of the performances in the early 1930s!
One phenomenon that the 78s Dating Team discovered was the “Laughing Record.” Throughout the collection we kept coming across records with seemingly little content aside from people laughing hysterically (or manically depending on your impression). As we discovered more and more versions of these slightly creepy recordings, we looked more deeply into their origins. It turns out that The Okeh Laughing Record is one of the most enduring novelty records ever recorded! The Library of Congress researched its origins and traced it to a recording made by an opera singer in Germany in 1920. Nobody knows why the original performers were laughing, but that is the beauty of these recordings—laughter is a universal language. The Library of Congress estimates that more than one million pressings of this record were sold. To learn more about this mysterious, maniacal genre, read the Library of Congress essay here.
Everyone knows the famous Elvis Presley tune Hound Dog that skyrocketed to fame in 1956, but they may not have heard of this version sung by “Scat Man” Crothers. That’s because Crothers is a sound-alike singer for the Tops budget record label! Tops was one of many record labels that made its profits by recording knockoff covers of hit songs with sound-alike singers, for sale at a discounted price. Tops would even squeeze four songs onto each record—a big bang for your buck (or rather, 39 cents, the price tag on a Tops record in the 50s)!
We discovered this fantastic record from 1949 by someone named Shorty Muggins and immediately wondered about Shorty’s background. It turns out Got a Great Big Shovel is one of only four sides recorded by jazz performer and member of The Rat Pack, Sammy Davis Jr., under the pseudonym “Shorty Muggins.” He only recorded under this name for Capitol to separate his blues recordings from his other work. This record is a great early snapshot of a little known part of Sammy Davis Jr.’s prolific career.
EPILOGUE: To date, the 78 Dating Team has added 13,272 reviews to the 78 Collection, including recording dates and interesting historical information. You’ll find our 13,000 reviews, like hidden nuggets of gold, tucked away after the item description.
78 DATING TEAM: Alex Paananen, Annie Coates, Anthony Young, Cheryl Creed, Chris Moses, Joe Ondreicka, Mike Wankoff, LaDonna Hartmann, Lauretta Doellman, Mandy Weiler, Osamu Sueyoshi, Richard Greydanus, Tabby Garbutt (for a few days!), Taylor Kelsey, Zelda Lacoss, Tim Bigelow – manager!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Liz Rosenberg is an audio engineer and audio archivist based in Philadelphia, PA. She helped start the Great 78s Project as a transfer engineer and project lead and now leads the 78rpm Dating Blitz Project. Liz also enjoys operating audio, video, lighting and projection for live events in Philadelphia, as well as producing music in her home studio.
Following our previous post, we have continued to receive messages about the impact of the National Emergency Library before it closed last week. If you’d like to share your story of how you used the NEL, please leave a testimonial.
The following statements are condensed from testimonials sent to the Internet Archive:
Betty A., Inkster, Michigan, Student: Betty writes that she “used the Internet Archive and the NEL for graduate course research, personal interests, and for assisting patrons. I am a graduate student as well as an Interlibrary Loan employee…and have found the NEL a necessary resource that has allowed my own personal research to progress during this time of crisis and as an option for searching materials that normally I’d have access to, if local and university libraries were open. The physical materials being unavailable have limited Interlibrary Loan success to strictly digital access. This has hindered many researchers and caused many loan requests that ordinarily would be fulfilled, to be cancelled.
The NEL has opened educational resources to those who had nowhere else to turn, had no way to gain access to the same materials that would otherwise be available if they had a library card, and allowed parents to assist their now home-schooled children in locating resources to complete their assignments by their required due dates. I personally cannot thank IA enough for the many ways the NEL has helped me and my constituents and community.”
Tiger J., Arlington, Texas, Researcher: Tiger used the NEL “to locate otherwise inaccessible information related to Austrian refugees at the outset of WWII.” With the NEL, Tiger was able to find personal accounts and information about refugee activities after settling in the United States. “None of this turned up elsewhere on the Internet. The National Emergency Library has helped me to do deep, intensive research I’d never be able to do otherwise. Most of the materials are impossible to access because they’re out of print and not in the collections of any local libraries or impossible to borrow digitally from libraries that have a copy because they require memberships with certain institutions or have other restrictions that shut out large numbers of researchers.”
Ennis B., Metuchen, New Jersey, Student: Through the NEL, Ennis “learned so much about the LGBT history that has been deliberately kept from young people. Even separated from my physical community, I don’t feel alone, because I can read the zines, websites…written by LGBT people who have blazed a brave path before me.”
Edwin S., Oslo, Norway, Researcher: “My research institute has a very limited library and with the library system shutdown around the world, the NEL was necessary to complete a research proposal for the Norwegian Research Council. We will be studying the history of pandemics and designing future public health heritage to increase awareness of the dangers of zoonotic pandemics while also reducing stigmatism of vulnerable populations. I would be completely unable to do my job and keep a steady income without the assistance of NEL. Being able to successfully apply for external funding is necessary to keep my institute afloat and me employed. I look forward to the day when online libraries will be the norm. This is an invaluable service that you provide to humanity.”
Robert N., Katy, Texas, Author: Robert runs a small indie publishing ebook company and was enthusiastic about the NEL because “It made it easier to do copyright research for ebooks my company is publishing.” Robert is a previous user of Open Library, using it to research out-of-print books. “During the emergency unrestricted opening because of COVID, I used it to check on copyright, to find a Table of Contents of various poetry collections and short story collections.” The NEL helped Robert save time, and because of that time savings, “it will help me to publish additional ebooks.”
Manoj P., Gautam Buddh Nagar, India, Reader: Manoj used the NEL to research the topics of psychology & Ikeda Sensei’s books on Buddhism. “While I could satisfy a very insignificant amount of my appetite, yet at one time I felt so proud to be owning a library, my library of such books.” The NEL has brought Manoj “great joy and happiness, just at the sight of books so rare and precious.”
Dimiter, Bulgaria, Reader: Dimiter used the NEL extensively and found the availability of the NEL collections “enormously positive.” “The lock down here was very serious, the libraries and bookshops were closed down for more than 2 months. NEL was a real lifeline!”
Mayra M., Dallas, Texas, Reader: Mayra used the NEL for personal reading to stave off boredom during the pandemic. “Thank you so much for what you did, with money being tight it was amazing to have this resource…I’m sad to see this ending.”
Mark D., Lafayette, Louisiana, Educator: Mark writes, “Once the University of Louisiana at Lafayette shut down in March, I still had half a semester of a research-focused graduate class to teach. I was able to refer my students to the National Emergency Library to find books that would help them with their research papers. I also used the NEL for background research to help me prepare for class meetings.The National Emergency Library allowed my students access to authoritative books for their research papers at a time when other resources (our university’s library, including its interlibrary loan service) were not available.”
Juneteenth celebrates when enslaved people actually became free in 1865. The date, June 19th, commemorates General Gordon Granger of the Union Army announcing the executive order in Galveston, Texas, freeing all enslaved people in Texas.
Community access TV stations around the country have shown local celebrations of Juneteenth for years, and we thought this 2013 talk by Dr. Shennette Garrett-Scott at the Allen Public Library in Texas (via Allen City TV) was particularly helpful in understanding the history of this important day.
The Internet Archive and Ever Gold [Projects] are pleased to announce part two of our Bay Area Visual Artist Exhibition Production Relief Grant: an online exhibition featuring the work of thirty grant finalists. From June 29 – July 18, the exhibition, featuring one artwork by each artist, will be on view via the Ever Gold [Projects] website.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fourth annual Internet Archive artist in residency exhibition was cancelled—along with so many other visual art exhibitions in the Bay Area and across the globe. This presented a serious challenge for emerging artists, who typically must pay for production expenses out of their own pocket when creating a body of work for exhibition in a gallery. With canceled exhibitions making it impossible to recoup these costs, along with drastically slowing art sales, many artists have struggled with lost revenues.
Applications were judged by Hilde Lynn Helphenstein (aka Jerry Gogosian), a curator and critic; Drew Bennett, artist and founder of the Facebook art program; Andrew McClintock of Ever Gold [Projects]; and Amir Esfahani of the Internet Archive.
The winning artists, whose work will be featured in the exhibition, are:
With the Internet Archive being mentioned prominently in the news for the past couple of weeks, we’ve had thousands of people discuss us in social media, and contact us directly with strong concerns and worries.
Above all, many want, in some way, to “help” and have asked us what they can do, if anything.
While your donations during this time have been appreciated, there’s actually many things you can do beyond that, which will have a lasting effect.
It may sound simple, but just using the Internet Archive for why it exists in the first place is a fulfillment of the dream of the many who have worked on it, past and present. An extraordinary amount of hours of continuing support are behind the simple archive.org address and website. Some of you are already enjoying the archive in its full potential, but many use it just for the Wayback Machine, or for a favorite set of media that you listen to or watch.
Take a walk through our stacks, browse, meander… enter a search term of something that interests you and see what pops up and what collections it’s part of. You’ll find it endlessly rewarding. Tens of millions of items await you.
The collections themselves vary wildly; a driven group will create a collection, or collaborations and partnerships worldwide will lead to a breathtaking amount of material you can enjoy. And, as always, billions of URLs have been mirrored to bring the unique miracle of the Wayback Machine to you for 20 years. We back up every link Wikipedia links out to at the time’s added, to make sure the web doesn’t forget its citations and relevant information anytime soon.
Speaking of the Wayback Machine… the Wayback is our crowning jewel, and we also encourage people who see something to save a copy of it.
To do so, visit the main Wayback page and enter a URL in the Save Page Now form on the lower right. We’ll do the rest (de-duplication, archiving, and so on). It’s how we become aware of to-the-minute URLs that either don’t have a long shelf life or which we would not normally be aware of for a significant amount of time.
Become a Patron
If you haven’t registered with us, it’s incredibly easy to do so and absolutely free, and always will be. Having a virtual library card lets you build lists of favorites, write reviews for any items you have opinions on, and allow you to upload your own items into our collections. During signup, you can also register for our newsletter, which is really great for keeping track of news and events related to the Archive.
You can always browse anonymously, from anywhere, of course; that’s what a library is about. But consider being a member of the archive as well.
Curate and Upload to the Archive
As a member of the Archive, you can upload items into our stacks instantly. Texts, Images, Movies, Audio. Thousands of new items enter into the collection every day. Our Upload Page has helpful information about what you’re uploading to allow you to describe and verify the items you wish for us to store.
It’s always a surprise to us to find out that people don’t know about the Wayback Machine or the Internet Archive, but we live here. Buried among hundreds of tweets have been the excited responses of people discovering us for the first time. What a shame if your friends and family don’t know about us and all they need is for you to tell them we’re a few clicks away. Take a little time to spread the word we’re here and waiting for them. (Just link them to https://archive.org or https://web.archive.org – the site is pretty self explanatory).
And really, nothing makes us happier than others writing about what they discover in expeditions into the stacks; essays and posts have been written about discovered unusual magazines or articles, and citing 18th and 19th century predecessors of technology and schools of thought that are flourishing in the present. Our system allows you to bookmark printed items down to the individual page or music track and link to them.
Browse Our Many, Many Collections.
Our petabytes of data have a lifetime’s worth of things to see; here’s a few highlights of our tens of thousands of collections.
For decades, a group of tapers and fans have created the Live Music Archive, a collection of over 225,000 live performances of music, including the vast majority of all live performances of The Grateful Dead, as well as thousands of other bands.
The Bay Area Reporter, the oldest continuously published lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer weekly newspaper in the United States, made it a mission to scan and upload their entire back catalog of issues from their first to the present day. About 50 years of issues are represented, and are a fascinating deep dive. Other examples of broadsheets and bulletin history that have come to be hosted include the Sparrows’ Nest Library of radical zines and newspapers, as well as the cultural-remix and art potential of thousands of supermarket circulars.
The Netlabels area contains music and performances from “Netlabels”, online-only music groups, “record companies” and communities that have uploaded fully-produced albums with open licenses for years. For example, the Curses from Past Times LP is at 800,000 views and counting. (Be sure to click on the Llama on the right, too.)
Speaking of which.. we’ve partnered with many other libraries, archives, and collectors to mirror or host millions of individual items. Our space and bandwidth are at their service to ensure the maximum audience is ready to interact with them, as needed.
Public Resource hosts 18,000+ Safety and Law Codes with us, allowing individuals to view the laws that affect their lives and functions within society without paying expensive rates to do so. An attempt to prevent this service by the State of Georgia ended up in a legal battle that made its way to the Surpreme Court, which found in favor of Public Resource, allowing you to view these laws immediately. Over 22 million views of these laws have happened over the years.
The Media History Digital Library has a collection in our stacks of film theory, cinema periodicals, and related documents and writings, which can be viewed from the Media History Project site. These scans of industry trade magazines, announcements and advertising related to the film and television industries are instantly available and accessible by students, researchers and writers, as are all our collections.
And we don’t just host music and texts. Among our most storied and referenced items are the uploads of the Prelinger Library, which include government public health films, commercials, instructional movies, and a growing set of home movies, which allow us to parts of visual history that didn’t have a commercial aspect. This work is done, among other ways, by a large-scale digitizing process hosted in the Archive’s Physical Archive.
In our software collections, we have brought back thousands of hypercard stacks that used to be easily available for Macintosh computers in the 1980s and 1990s – they will boot in your browser and let you enjoy them near-instantly.
Just go in any direction in the Archive and you will spend weekends, days and nights finding and sharing what you discover.
However… if passively consuming media doesn’t feel like it’s “helping” us (although it is), there’s an even more active set of roles you can take:
Get Involved In Our Many Projects, Including The Wayback Machine
We’ve made an effort to work with many volunteers and collaborators over the years to ensure the Wayback Machine is capable of playing back as much of the now-lost and forgotten World Wide Web as possible. As you can imagine, the web is a moving target, and the terabytes a day of shifting websites presents one of the hardest technical challenges out there.
We have also moved into the real world where we can (even if we, like many others, are taking a break right now). We have co-hosted events like DWebCamp, provided space for book readings, and engaged in a variety of Artist-in-Residency programs; we expect to do more in the future and would love for you to be involved.
You can write us if you have an interest in participating in any of these many and ongoing efforts.
But Most of All, Please Help Yourself First.
We’re touched by everyone who has spoken of their love and support of the Archive and its many missions, but this is also a time of much general uncertainty: economic, health concerns, and upheaval in society.
The Internet Archive is our job and mission. Your job and mission is to take care of yourself and those closest to you. Without you, we’re a bunch of hard drives on the Internet.
Long before the Covid-19 pandemic, before the righteous uprisings for racial justice swept across the world, the Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi decided to open his new memoir with this quotation:
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
As a six year old, the young Tenzin began having visions of an unknown place and the face of a man draped in saffron robes. At ten, he left his boarding school in India to set off—Huck Finn-like—in search of an answer to those waking dreams. As the scion of a prominent Brahmin family, Venerable Tenzin could have remained “well adjusted” to the role Indian society had created for him. Instead he leaned in toward the unknown. He followed his instincts, which led him to a small Japanese Buddhist Temple near Vulture’s Peak, Buddha’s favorite retreat in Rajgir, India.
Thus begins the new memoir, “Running Toward Mystery: The Adventure of an Unconventional Life,” by the Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi. On June 5, 2020, the Internet Archive invited this ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk to explore what his life lessons have to say about this tumultuous moment in history. The Venerable Tenzin selected June 5th because it is Saka Dawa, the day celebrating Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing—said to be especially auspicious for acts of kindness and compassion.
The event began with a moment of reflective silence, “in solidarity with all that is happening around us and affects us deeply,” Venerable Tenzin proclaimed. “Reflective silence hopefully generating a sense of compassion.” He was joined in conversation by former diplomat and human rights policy leader, Eileen Donahoe. “The hope is we can explore how inner spiritual transformation plays a role in the world,” she laid out. “And it’s potential to bring about understanding of our common nature and common destiny.”
“Lack of empathy is a public health issue.”
–Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi
An encounter with Mother Theresa challenged the Venerable Tenzin’s sense of certainty about his true path, teaching him to reevaluate constantly learning and unlearning. “One of the things we are recognizing today in a world full of false certainties and biases is that there is a lot of unlearning to be done,” he said. “Unlearning is important as a process before we can learn anything new.”
For the one hundred audience members, the question weighing most heavily on their hearts and minds centered on justice and social change. The author challenged the notion that banking, legal circles or law enforcement could “magically” change without deep unlearning and learning within those ranks. “I, as a Buddhist, am a big proponent of training,” the Venerable Tenzin explained. “Empathy training is as important as financial training. Compassion training is as important as learning about science, math and literature. Criticism of systems is not enough. We must respond with training mechanisms. Lack of empathy is a public health issue, and we must treat it as such.”
In this moment when millions are in the streets demanding change, this Buddhist monk acknowledged the profound tension between action and contemplation. “Introspection must be a precursor to action,” he proclaimed. “Deeper changes will actually come from this sense of awakening. When we truly recognize that there is no I without you. That there is no I without the other. That our sense of happiness is deeply intertwined, is deeply interconnected. As long as we ignore that lesson of life, everything else is window dressing.”
Our team of librarians launched the NEL on March 24 to help those who were disconnected from their physical libraries, and the feedback our team received has been overwhelming. Almost immediately after launch, we started receiving messages from teachers, librarians, and parents who were delighted to find needed books after many schools and libraries closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, we heard from researchers and educators who found texts for their coursework and research. Feedback continues to this day, indicating that the NEL has provided a necessary service for digital learners.
As we close the NEL, we are proud of our work and how it has helped. We gathered some of the most impactful statements to show how the NEL has been used and the impact it has made while our schools and libraries are closed. We are excited that the needs of our patrons will continue to be met through traditional controlled digital lending.
What You Are Saying About the National Emergency Library
We only use testimonials for which we have explicit permission. If you would like to share how you’ve used the NEL or the impact that it has had for you, please submit a testimonial. Condensed from testimonials sent to the Internet Archive:
Margaret D., Nassau, Bahamas, Educator: Margaret is an educator who uses the NEL for reading books in a classroom setting. ‘I use the NEL daily for read-alouds and reading recommendations for students during remote learning, in addition to personal reading as well. It is the best thing to happen for my classwork needs and resources. And [I] couldn’t have functioned without it. The NEL is [a] godsend.’
Benjamin S., Camden, New Jersey, Librarian: Benjamin is a librarian who uses the NEL to help his community. ‘I was able to find basic life support manuals (BLS Provider Manual) needed by front line medical workers in the academic medical center I work at. The physical collection was closed due to COVID-19 and the NEL allows me to still make necessary health informational materials available to my hospital patrons. It has also provided anatomy materials for the gross anatomy lab in the medical school. Additionally, the NEL has allowed me to augment the resources provided from paid databases to patrons in their transition to online learning.’
Kathleen M., Santa Clara, California, Professor: Kathleen is a Professor with the Department of Art and Art History at Santa Clara University. ‘The Internet Archive has been a godsend for my students at Santa Clara University this quarter—especially with all libraries and interlibrary loan services closed. My students wrote sophisticated research papers on a variety of subjects during spring quarter. The Internet Archive was a major factor in their success. They and I are so grateful that you made the decision to make all books available during COVID-19. Thank you so much!’
Jessica T., Albany, California, Parent: Jessica is a parent who uses the National Emergency Library to help with homeschooling her children. ‘Our local schools shutdown with little time for anyone to prepare. The 4th graders were reading an historic novel set during World War II but did not bring home physical copies. The wait list for a digital copy at our local public library was weeks long, but with a few clicks, I found it available to borrow on the National Emergency Library. I think of all those physical copies of the book gathering dust at the school and am so grateful that the NEL is there to help our kids stay connected with their schoolwork.’
Blake G., Scotland, Texas, Former College Professor, Librarian, Author, and Journalist: Blake ‘read this week about the lawsuit against you and I’m writing to express my support for Open Library.
As a former librarian, I think what Open Library offers is exactly equivalent to what libraries do. You give people access to books to borrow for a limited period of time without charging anything for them. That’s what libraries all over do and publishers don’t sue them. Open Library provides an invaluable public service that should be allowed to continue.
I find Open Library even more valuable than most libraries because you offer people like me, who live in out of the way places, access to books that we could never borrow from libraries near where we live. I am currently working on a book about blacks who migrated from the South to Boston after World War II. Like most authors, I can’t afford to buy every book I need for my research, but I live in a small town in Texas, so most of the books I need are not available at any library nearby. I have been able to read numerous books on Open Library for my project that I wouldn’t be able to access any other way.’
Lauren M., Portage, Michigan, Librarian: Lauren is a librarian who uses the NEL for personal use. ‘During the shutdown when things are difficult to retrieve through my local library and funds are tight or insecure because of the falling economy the NEL has been a relief and lifeline to diverse materials that are not accessible or out of financial reach for me and my family. The materials available have allowed me to hold virtual book clubs with friends at a time when I desperately need the distraction and social interaction. It has also been a comfort and resource as I navigate virtual schooling with my kids and teachers who ask for them to do research papers. Additionally, I am now seeing the results of the need for accessibility at all levels of our institutional structures. Free library resources have proven time and again their importance to a healthy and productive society. This holds just as much weight in the digital realm to my family and friends.’
Carole L., Bedminster, New Jersey, Author and Former Children’s Librarian: Carole is a former children’s librarian and author who uses the NEL for her personal use. ‘I am researching women’s suffrage, in addition to alerting others to the NEL. I have been recommending the NEL to friends and others (via tinyurl.com/familylearningideas) as a resource for teachers and students separated from school libraries and classroom sets. And I am writing my response to the New York Times article. This article and the lawsuit neglect to mention that these books are still just two-week loans, no different from what traditional libraries normally do. These scans give virtual access to the hundreds of millions of books locked behind library doors and in classrooms during the Covid-19 crisis. They are scans so much inferior to regular e-books or paper books in terms of readability, but give students, scholars, and readers access during this unprecedented lockdown. These are also not hot new books — most of the titles date prior to 2010 — and authors have the right to opt out their titles.
As a former children’s librarian and as an author, I understand the concern of authors, illustrators, and publishers, but let’s look at the whole picture. We are in a time of (inter)national emergency when literally billions of students, scholars, and readers around the world lack access to libraries. Many families are losing loved ones or jobs and are worried about rent and food money. Most of the titles in this collection are out-of-print backlists so the author and publisher wouldn’t be getting much in the way of royalties anyway. Isn’t this a perfect opportunity to give everyone a chance to borrow the books they need and make everyone’s lives just a little bit easier?
It could even expose kids, teens, and adults to authors they might get excited about — making them want to purchase (or ask their library to purchase) the next title an author releases! Including my Remembering the Ladies: From Patriots in Petticoats to Presidential Candidates available to borrow from the National Emergency Library, to download and print at tellingherstories.com, or to buy in print at Amazon.com and other online retailers. I also have created a compilation of fun family sites for at-home learning (via https://tinyurl.com/familylearningideas).’
Katrina R., Detroit, Michigan, Librarian: Katrina is a librarian using the NEL for research. ‘I have used the NEL to help students and researchers access materials that they would otherwise be unable to access or request because of the coronavirus pandemic. Without this access, I believe student success will be negatively impacted as they try to complete their coursework. As an academic librarian working in an area of the country with a high rate of the coronavirus, the NEL has allowed me to continue to support the research needs of the University population while also keeping my colleagues and users safe.’
Christopher D., Baltimore, Maryland, Educator: Christopher is an educator who uses the NEL in a classroom setting for teaching, research, and the completion of his dissertation. ‘The NEL has been indispensable. With every library closed and many lending systems either unsuited or crashing due to the tidal influx of users, the NEL’s smart, easy interface has assisted and accelerated my research enormously. I also use the NEL in teaching to pull articles from otherwise unavailable or inaccessible texts.’
Kelly P., Detroit, Michigan, Researcher: Kelly uses the NEL for research purposes for her PhD. ‘The NEL has provided access to scholarly monographs that are unavailable during the global pandemic due to library closures. It [NEL] has provided tangible resources allowing me to continue my research work while disconnected from physical networks (office space, library access, institutional support spaces). It has shown the need for free digital resources at all times, not just during the shutdowns due to the global pandemic.’
Annie S., Florence, Massachusetts, Librarian: Annie is a librarian and has been able to use the NEL to find materials for a faculty member she works with. ‘Without access to library collections or exhaustive ILL services, I turned to the NEL, which was able to immediately provide the three volumes the professor needed. It has been a relief to know that the NEL is there for me and for the researchers I work with. I was not aware of the Internet Archive lending program before, but now I am grateful to have it in my back pocket.’
Mike M., Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, Researcher: Mike is a researcher who has been using the National Emergency Library for personal research purposes in fields of Geology and Art History. He called the NEL, “awesome.”
Jennifer J., Atlantic City, New Jersey, Librarian: Jennifer is a librarian who is using the National Emergency Library in a classroom setting, ‘[The NEL], provides my students with 9th grade student novels. I discovered the NEL from a librarian for the Atlantic City Public Library.’
Augusto W., Lima, Peru, Researcher: Augusto uses the National Emergency Library for personal research purposes. He marvels at ‘being able to flip through books I always wanted to take a look at or read, including many of which have been out of print for decades. This is the greatest gift of all for someone in need (or who dreamed) of a near-perfect library.’
Mary M., Bellevue, Washington, Educator: Mary uses the National Emergency Library in a classroom setting. ‘We are continuing to discuss books together even though the children are all at home. [And] we wouldn’t be able to have literature discussions without this because every other method is either maxed out (our library system), costs money, or takes families’ data. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can try out some books we don’t own at school and when we are back, I’ll buy them for the class.’
Imre B., Budapest, Hungary, Researcher: Imre uses the National Emergency library for research purposes. ‘I am a PhD student at the University of Hagen, Germany based in Hungary. I am interested in U.S. democracy and political philosophy. I am not sure if these books were available to borrow before but now I can read books on English and U.S. history as well as political history/ideas. Books I really wanted. The NEL is a fantastic opportunity to read new information.’
Julie N., Neenah, Wisconsin, Reader: Julie is an avid reader and uses the National Emergency Library for personal use. ‘I am reading books by British women authors, bucket list authors, and titles not available in my local library system. The NEL is tremendously important. I love reading and would be lost during this difficult time if not for books. Thank you SO MUCH for this service.’
Nico L., Paris, France, Researcher: Nico uses the National Emergency Library for research purposes. ‘Access to rare but very useful scholarly 20th century books in English is already hard to access from France, but with all libraries closed this is my only way to access them. I scratched my head a few times dreading when and how I would be able to finally find these books… then I thought to try the NEL AND VOILA. Thank you so much for your librarianship. Reasonable access for ALL. This is just a fantastic resource, surprisingly so.’
Within a few days of the announcement that libraries, schools and colleges across the nation would be closing due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, we launched the temporary National Emergency Library to provide books to support emergency remote teaching, research activities, independent scholarship, and intellectual stimulation during the closures.
We have heard hundreds of stories from librarians, authors, parents, teachers, and students about how the NEL has filled an important gap during this crisis.
Ben S., a librarian from New Jersey, for example, told us that he used the NEL “to find basic life support manuals needed by frontline medical workers in the academic medical center I work at. Our physical collection was closed due to COVID-19 and the NEL allowed me to still make available needed health informational materials to our hospital patrons.” We are proud to aid frontline workers.
Today we are announcing the National Emergency Library will close on June 16th, rather than June 30th, returning to traditional controlled digital lending. We have learned that the vast majority of people use digitized books on the Internet Archive for a very short time. Even with the closure of the NEL, we will be able to serve most patrons through controlled digital lending, in part because of the good work of the non-profit HathiTrust Digital Library. HathiTrust’s new Emergency Temporary Access Service features a short-term access model that we plan to follow.
We moved up our schedule because, last Monday, four commercial publishers chose to sue Internet Archive during a global pandemic. However, this lawsuit is not just about the temporary National Emergency Library. The complaint attacks the concept of any library owning and lending digital books, challenging the very idea of what a library is in the digital world. This lawsuit stands in contrast to some academic publishers who initially expressed concerns about the NEL, but ultimately decided to work with us to provide access to people cut off from their physical schools and libraries. We hope that similar cooperation is possible here, and the publishers call off their costly assault.
Controlled digital lending is how many libraries have been providing access to digitized books for nine years. Controlled digital lending is a legal framework, developed by copyright experts, where one reader at a time can read a digitized copy of a legally owned library book. The digitized book is protected by the same digital protections that publishers use for the digital offerings on their own sites. Many libraries, including the Internet Archive, have adopted this system since 2011 to leverage their investments in older print books in an increasingly digital world.
We are now all Internet-bound and flooded with misinformation and disinformation—to fight these we all need access to books more than ever. To get there we need collaboration between libraries, authors, booksellers, and publishers.