Policies for a Better Internet: Securing Digital Rights for Libraries

What do libraries have to do with building a better internet? How would securing certain digital rights for these traditional public interest institutions help make the internet work better for everyone?

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Join Public Knowledge President CHRIS LEWIS as he facilitates a conversation on these issues and the emerging Movement for a Better Internet with library and internet policy experts LILA BAILEY (Internet Archive), KATHERINE KLOSEK (Association of Research Libraries) and BRIGITTE VÉZINA (Creative Commons).

They will discuss Internet Archive’s forthcoming report “Securing Digital Rights for Libraries: Towards an Affirmative Policy Agenda for a Better Internet” along with ongoing copyright reform projects from Creative Commons and ARL.

Policies for a Better Internet: Securing Digital Rights for Libraries
Thursday, December 8 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual event

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

CHRIS LEWIS is President and CEO at Public Knowledge. Prior to being elevated to President and CEO, Chris served for as PK’s Vice President from 2012 to 2019 where he led the organization’s day-to-day advocacy and political strategy on Capitol Hill and at government agencies. During that time he also served as a local elected official, serving two terms on the Alexandria City Public School Board. Chris serves on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Local Self Reliance and represents Public Knowledge on the Board of the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG).

LILA BAILEY is Senior Policy Counsel for the Internet Archive. She leads the team responsible for the legal and policy strategies supporting the non-profit library’s mission to enable Universal Access to All Knowledge. Lila has spent her career as a passionate advocate of democratizing access to information, culture, and educational resources. In 2020, Public Knowledge recognized Lila’s contributions to public interest technology policy as the 17th annual winner of the IP3 award in the category of Intellectual Property. Fortune Magazine named her a “copyright champion” for her work leading the Archive’s fair use defense against four major commercial publishers in the Hachette v. Internet Archive case about digital book lending. Lila holds a JD from Berkeley Law and a BA in Philosophy from Brown University.

KATHERINE KLOSEK is the Director of Information Policy at the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).As a member of the ARL Scholarship and Policy team, Katherine formulates Association positions on key information policy debates, and develops and implements advocacy strategies to advance the Association’s legal and public policy agenda in legislative, administrative, and judicial forums. Building strong partnerships with stakeholders in libraries, higher education, scholarship, and civil society, she represents the Association in outreach to policy makers on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch. Serving as the staff lead to ARL’s Advocacy and Public Policy Committee, Katherine helps mobilize ARL’s membership to influence government policy–making in key moments, and in responding and adapting to major legal and policy developments.

BRIGITTE VÉZINA is the Director of Policy, Open Culture, and GLAM at Creative Commons. Brigitte is passionate about all things spanning culture, arts, handicraft, traditions, fashion and, of course, copyright law and policy. She gets a kick out of tackling the fuzzy legal and policy issues that stand in the way of access, use, re-use and remix of culture, information and knowledge.

Tips for requesting articles from Internet Archive on OCLC’s resource sharing network

On November 9, Internet Archive participated in a webinar hosted by OCLC that showed librarians how to request articles from our library using OCLC tools.

The Recording and Slides (PDF download) from the event are now available.

How do I request articles from the Internet Archive?

  1. To learn how, watch the recording—starting at timestamp 12:25 minutes—and view slides 21- 30 (PDF).
    1. Create/update your custom holdings to include IAILL in the group you use for copy requesting.
      1. Learn more about how to set up custom holding groups and custom holding paths.
      2. Send copy requests to the Custom Holdings Path including IAILL using Automated Request Manager.
    2. If you have Tipasa, add IAILL to your group of Proven Senders.
    3. If you have ILLiad, make IAILL an Odyssey Trusted Sender.
    4. If Internet Archive indicates that they own the year/volume you need, you can simply add IAILL to your lender string.
      1. From the Holdings page, filter to the article date you need, select the custom holdings path including IAILL, and click go to populate the lender string.
  2. Have questions about how to set up your custom holdings groups and paths? Please contact OCLC Support.  

Key facts about the Internet Archive

  1. Internet Archive’s OCLC symbol: IAILL
  2. Internet Archive supplies for FREE
  3. Internet Archive is fast—and deliver in an average of 37 minutes
  4. Articles delivered electronically through Article Exchange
  5. All PDFs are provided with full OCR (Optical Character Recognition) 

Questions?

Digital Library of Amateur Radio & Communications Surpasses 25,000 Items

In the six weeks since announcing that Internet Archive has begun gathering content for the Digital Library of Amateur Radio and Communications (DLARC), the project has quickly grown to more than 25,000 items, including ham radio newsletters, podcasts, videos, books, and catalogs. The project seeks additional contributions of material for the free online library.

You are welcome to explore the content currently in the library and watch the primary collection as it grows at https://archive.org/details/dlarc.

The new material includes historical and modern newsletters from diverse amateur radio groups including the National Radio Club (of Aurora, CO); the Telford & District Amateur Radio Society, based in the United Kingdom; the Malta Amateur Radio League; and the South African Radio League. The Tri-State Amateur Radio Society contributed more than 200 items of historical correspondence, newspaper clippings, ham festival flyers, and newsletters. Other publications include Selvamar Noticias, a multilingual digital ham radio magazine; and Florida Skip, an amateur radio newspaper published from 1957 through 1994.The library also includes the complete run of 73 Magazine — more than 500 issues — which are freely and openly available.  

More than 300 radio related books are available in DLARC via controlled digital lending. These materials may be checked out by anyone with a free Internet Archive account for a period of one hour to two weeks. Radio and communications books donated to Internet Archive are scanned and added to the DLARC lending library.

Amateur radio podcasts and video channels are also among the first batch of material in the DLARC collection. These include Ham Nation, Foundations of Amateur Radio, the ICQ Amateur/Ham Radio Podcast, with many more to come. Providing a mirror and archive for “born digital” content such as video and podcasts is one of the core goals of DLARC.

Additions to DLARC also include presentations recorded at radio communications conferences, including GRCon, the GNU Radio Conference; and the QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo. A growing reference library of past radio product catalogs includes catalogs from Ham Radio Outlet and C. Crane.

DLARC is growing to be a massive online library of materials and collections related to amateur radio and early digital communications. It is funded by a significant grant from Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) to create a digital library that documents, preserves, and provides open access to the history of this community. 

Anyone with material to contribute to the DLARC library, questions about the project, or interest in similar digital library building projects for other professional communities, please contact:

Kay Savetz, K6KJN
Program Manager, Special Collections
kay@archive.org
Mastodon: dlarc@mastodon.radio

Digital Books wear out faster than Physical Books

Ever try to read a physical book passed down in your family from 100 years ago?  Probably worked well. Ever try reading an ebook you paid for 10 years ago?   Probably a different experience. From the leasing business model of mega publishers to physical device evolution to format obsolescence, digital books are fragile and threatened.

For those of us tending libraries of digitized and born-digital books, we know that they need constant maintenance—reprocessing, reformatting, re-invigorating or they will not be readable or read. Fortunately this is what libraries do (if they are not sued to stop it). Publishers try to introduce new ideas into the public sphere. Libraries acquire these and keep them alive for generations to come.

And, to serve users with print disabilities, we have to keep up with the ever-improving tools they use.

Mega-publishers are saying electronic books do not wear out, but this is not true at all. The Internet Archive processes and reprocesses the books it has digitized as new optical character recognition technologies come around, as new text understanding technologies open new analysis, as formats change from djvu to daisy to epub1 to epub2 to epub3 to pdf-a and on and on. This takes thousands of computer-months and programmer-years to do this work. This is what libraries have signed up for—our long-term custodial roles.

Also, the digital media they reside on changes, too—from Digital Linear Tape to PATA hard drives to SATA hard drives to SSDs. If we do not actively tend our digital books they become unreadable very quickly.

Then there is cataloging and metadata. If we do not keep up with the ever-changing expectations of digital learners, then our books will not be found. This is ongoing and expensive.

Our paper books have lasted hundreds of years on our shelves and are still readable. Without active maintenance, we will be lucky if our digital books last a decade.

Also, how we use books and periodicals, in the decades after they are published, change from how they were originally intended. We are seeing researchers use books and periodicals in machine learning investigations to find trends that were never easy in a one-by-one world, or in the silos of the publisher databases. Preparing these books for this type of analysis is time consuming and now threatened by publisher’s lawsuits.

If we want future access to our digital heritage we need to make some structural changes:  changes to institution and publisher behaviors as well as supportive funding, laws, and enforcement.

The first step is to recognize preservation and access to our digital heritage is a big job and one worth doing.  Then, find ways that institutions– educational, government, non-profit, and philanthropic– could make preservation a part of our daily responsibility.

Long live books.

Illustration: midjourney AI generated.

We have added a Mastodon Server

The Internet Archive has recently set up its own Mastodon server– a federated/decentralized open source social media package– that has garnered lots of attention lately.

We use it in ways that we use twitter now (we are not leaving twitter):
@internetarchive@mastodon.archive.org for events, announcements, and fun things
• Staff accounts (e.g. my account @brewsterkahle@mastodon.archive.org) for, well, whatever.

Why?  We need a game with many winners, not just a few powerful players.  

Through our dweb work, the Internet Archive has catalyzed decentralized web technologies through conferences, summits, meet-ups and camps for 6 years. We need new tech to help with privacy, robustness, and work around issues of disinformation and corporate consolidation.  Mastodon is built on open standards so others can build alternative clients and integrate it into other systems.  

Looking forward to many social media alternatives: Blue Sky, Matrix, and many others. 

Personally, I want to see the evolution and combination of features of Slack, Twitter, SMS, Signal, email, Discord, Facebook, IRC, zoom, google meet, and other ways we communicate.  While we are at it, how about a more integrated environment of zendesk, jira, wordpress, and google docs.  Free and open technologies that invite interoperability while communities maintain control would be ideal.  And in my day-to-day I would love fewer systems to monitor that also limit my direct exposure to celebrities, influencers, and politicians.   Oh, I can dream…

Twitter
Facebook
Mastodon
Donations
Physical donations

Please help us learn, this time about Mastodon.   Thank you, all!

Guide to the exhibition galleries of the Departament of Geology and Palaeontology in the British Museum pg 18

Book Talk: Data Cartels

Join SPARC’s Heather Joseph for a chat with author Sarah Lamdan about the companies that control & monopolize our information.

Book Talk: Data Cartels with Sarah Lamdan & Heather Joseph
Co-sponsored by Internet Archive & Authors Alliance
Wednesday, November 30 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual discussion.

Purchase Data Cartels from The Booksmith

In our digital world, data is power. Information hoarding businesses reign supreme, using intimidation, aggression, and force to maintain influence and control. Sarah Lamdan brings us into the unregulated underworld of these “data cartels”, demonstrating how the entities mining, commodifying, and selling our data and informational resources perpetuate social inequalities and threaten the democratic sharing of knowledge.

About the speakers

Sarah Lamdan is Professor of Law at the City University of New York School of Law. She also serves as a Senior Fellow for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a Fellow at NYU School of Law’s Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy.

Heather Joseph is a longtime advocate and strategist in the movement for open access to knowledge. She is the Executive Director of SPARC, an international alliance of libraries committed to creating a more open and equitable ecosystem for research and education. She leads SPARCs policy efforts, which have produced national laws and executive actions supporting the free and open sharing of research articles, data and textbooks, and has worked on international efforts to promote open access with organizations including the United Nations,, The World Bank, UNESCO, and the World Health Organization.

Book Talk: Data Cartels with Sarah Lamdan & Heather Joseph
Co-sponsored by Internet Archive & Authors Alliance
Wednesday, November 30 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual discussion.

Book Talk: Walled Culture

Join journalist and editor Maria Bustillos in conversation with author Glyn Moody for a discussion about copyright, digital rights and the 21st-century walls blocking access to culture.

Book Talk: Walled Culture with Glyn Moody & Maria Bustillos
Co-sponsored by Internet Archive & Authors Alliance
Thursday, November 10 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Watch the virtual discussion.

Watch the session recording:

While Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa get sued for alleged plagiarism and the majority of creators see pennies for their hard work, record labels continue to explode. Libraries struggle to make ebooks accessible while being sued by an increasingly powerful book industry. In his book WALLED CULTURE (download for free or purchase in print), Glyn Moody explores how the transition from the physical to digital world has locked up access to culture and knowledge through copyright walls – specifically, outdated laws designed for the traditional, analogue world. 

WALLED CULTURE is the first book providing a compact, non-technical history of digital copyright and its problems over the last 30 years, and the social, economic and technological implications.

Steering our conversation will be Maria Bustillos, writer and editor of the Brick House Cooperative. Bustillos is a passionate advocate for equitable access to information, and has written extensively about issues relating to ebooks, publishing, and digital ownership.

Maria Bustillos is a journalist and critic whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, Harper’s, the Times Literary Supplement, ESPN, Bloomberg, VICE, Gawker, The Awl, and elsewhere. She writes the public editor column for MSNBC at the Columbia Journalism Review.

Glyn Moody is a technology writer and published journalist who has been writing about the digital world for 40 years, the internet for nearly 30, and copyright for 20. He is best known for his book, Rebel Code: Linus and the Open Source Revolution (2001). He is also the author of Digital Code of Life: How Bioinformatics is Revolutionizing Science, Medicine, and Business (2004). His weekly column, “Getting Wired”, was the first regular column about the business use of the internet, and ran 400 total articles between 1994 through 2001. More recently, he has written nearly 2,000 articles for the leading tech policy site Techdirt.

Book Talk: Walled Culture with Glyn Moody & Maria Bustillos
Co-sponsored by Internet Archive & Authors Alliance
Thursday, November 10 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Watch the virtual discussion.

UPDATED Nov 11, 2022 to include session recording.

The Rise of DISCMASTER

A developer came to me a week ago with a project they’d been working on for over a year. The proposition of what they offered and the importance of what it would mean to historical software at Internet Archive was so compelling that within 48 hours, we’d announced it to the world.

The site is DISCMASTER.TEXTFILES.COM, and within its stacks lie multitudes of previously hidden software treasure, and a directed search engine that makes it a top-notch research tool.

More than a fascinating site, though, it represents some philosophies regarding the Archive’s stacks that are worth exploring as well.

The first thing that strikes a visitor to the site is either how strange, or how nostalgic it looks. The site is strikingly simple and references the first few years of the world wide web, when backgrounds were grey by default, and the width of the screen was almost always under 640 pixels. Same with the link colors, and use of (to the modern era) small icons next to the words and links. This is a version of the world wide web long gone.

However, underneath this simple exterior beats the heart of a powerful search engine and an astounding amount of processing that has analyzed millions of files to make them easy to interact with. If your area of research or interest is vintage/historical software, we’ve all been handed a top-class tool to discover long-lost files and bring them back instantly.

A Quick Reminder about CD-ROMs

From (very roughly) 1989 through to the early 2000s, CD-ROMs (and later DVD-ROMs) were one of the primary ways to transfer heaps of software or large-sized programs to end users. Instead of spending hours or literal days transferring software you may or may not have wanted after you received it, you could go to stores or on-line and purchase a plastic disc that contained between 600-700 megabytes of information on it.

The potential of this, in fact, was so strong, that there was an entire industry of providing databases, news summaries, and even all-digital magazines using this format. Booklets of CD-ROMs became resplendent, and libraries could allow patrons to check out these discs to do research with them.

Besides these more institutional compilations, an industry rose up of companies compiling software, artwork, music and more and selling them to end users. Companies with names like Walnut Creek, Wayzata, Valusoft, and Imagemagic would have catalogs of CD-ROMs to buy. Starting out with software from bulletin board systems and gathered from FTP sites, these CD-ROMs quickly ran out of easy-to-find material to fill, and an era of “shovelware” began, allowing these products to claim “thousands of files, gigabytes of materials” while pulling from more and more out-of-date sources.

As websites, torrents and other means of transport brought the era of physical media for software to a close, the world was left with a finite, contained pile of titles that had come out on CDs. And, as luck would have it, people have been uploading those out of date files to the Internet Archive for years.

The Final Piece

Therefore, sitting on the Archive, are tens of thousands of these CD-ROMs of the past. And for a very long time, it’s been possible to download a Disc image, analyze its contents, search for useful or potentially interesting items, and then find a way to make them work again.

That last piece, in fact, is the hardest – not just knowing where the files you’re looking for are located, but to be able to browse them without a massive host of helper applications scattered to the four winds. There are dozens of archive types, dozens and maybe hundreds of multimedia formats, and, even more frustrating, archives within archives – making everything that much harder to find.

DiscMaster has fixed this.

Within the search engine is the ability to find millions of files, categorized by type or size or date or extension, and then be presented them instantly. Three decades of computer software with layers upon layers of obfuscation are brought immediately to the top.

The developer wrote applications to grind through the contents of a CD-ROM and present them with previews that wouldn’t require anything but a browser to see. This can take hours to pull out of a single CD-ROM, but the results are breathtaking.

Audio and music files play in the browser. Flash, IFF, Bitmaps, Fonts and more display in preview. Macintosh, PC, Commodore, Atari and more are presented simply, without a mandate to track down the proper utility to figure out what they are.

In other words, vintage and historical software is back from the obfuscated darkness.

In the short time that Discmaster has been online, success stories are appearing. Authors are finding shareware programs they lost track of decades ago. Original versions of software that were thought impossible to track down just pop up in the search engine. And organizations dedicated to creating catalogs of now-dormant formats are suddenly handed a thousands-of-items to-do list on a silver platter.

The Philosophy of the Support Site

The ramifications and discoveries from Discmaster are going to be coming for a very long time – even if a researcher has a light memory of something they’re looking for, the search results will guide them in the right direction faster than ever before.

But beyond that, this site shows a different approach to the Internet Archive’s materials that’s worth seeing more of.

With over 100 petabytes of data, representing a mass of materials with all sorts of containers, metadata, and approaches by contributors, the Internet Archive has to be as general as possible. This generality extends to the presentation, search engine, and storage of the items.

It is a major effort to ensure the data stays secure, the metadata is searchable, and the ability to upload nearly anything results in a usable item details page.

But that’s kind of where it has to stop.

It’s asking an awful lot to both maintain an entity like this, and also design, say, a specifically-geared site for a relatively smaller set of people and needs. It can be done, but when energy and funding are limited, it’s sometimes best to stick to basics.

Discmaster shows one way it could be done. After working hard on its specific set (software from CD-ROMs), the entire site is constructed with its singular goal in mind. If it’s not obvious, the simple, almost-no-javascript and straightforward design lends itself to an entire family of browsers that run on those original machines. You’ll be able to download Amiga software through your Amiga, your Atari software to your Atari and so on. A thousand little touches and flourishes live easily on this custom experience – because it has the freedom to allow them.

Perhaps seeing Discmaster in action will encourage others to interact with the Internet Archive as a pool, a container of resources that could receive some of the powerful analysis along specific lines. If they can then be fed back to the Archive at the end, even better; but let a hundred supporting sites bloom.

Meanwhile, enjoy the history of software – it just got a lot easier to find.

A Small Addendum Regarding Emulation

After this announcement came out, a not-insignificant amount of people have come forward to ask some form of:

You’re the Emulation In The Browser People – will DISCMASTER allow you to emulate the programs that are found in these floppies and CD-ROMS?

The short answer is no, there are no current plans to do emulated previews.

The longer answer is that the wonderful emulation in the browser that the Internet Archive has covers over the amount of work that needs to be done in selecting, refining, and in some cases modifying original programs to make them work. If a program requires all of Windows 3.1 installed, for example, someone went through the process of determining that, configuring the item to know to load Windows 3.1, and then added custom settings in the item to ensure it would all boot up correctly. Often this work can be automated to a degree, but the time involved is considerable.

Multiply these issues by the dozens of platforms that are emulated, and you can see why it would be more trouble than it would be worth. Additionally, some programs just don’t make sense to be emulated – running a printer utility “in the browser” will probably just show a prompt and nothing else, as it is loaded in the background – many, many programs of the past don’t make sense without additional context.

A much more likely scenario will be DISCMASTER revealing long-lost vintage software that is so interesting and/or fun that it will get uploaded to Internet Archive separately and those configurations done to allow it to be played in the browser.

If you find interesting items along DISCMASTER’s millions, feel free to contact me, Jason Scott, or take a shot at uploading the program yourself and doing the configurations.

Community Turns Out to Celebrate Promise of Democracy’s Library

Friends and supporters of the Internet Archive gathered October 19 at the organization’s headquarters in San Francisco to celebrate the launch of Democracy’s Library.

Plans to collect government documents from around the world and make them easily accessible online were met with enthusiasm and endorsements. Speakers at the event expressed an urgency to preserve the public record, make valuable research discoverable, and keep the citizenry informed—all potential benefits of Democracy’s Library. 

“If we really succeed — and we have to succeed — then Democracy’s Library might become an inspiration for openness in areas that are becoming more and more closed,” said Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle. 

The 10-year project aims to make freely available the massive volume of government publications (from the U.S. and other democracies), including books, guides, reports, surveys, laws and academic research results, which are all funded with taxpayer money, but often difficult to find. 

To kick off the project, Kahle announced the Internet Archive’s initial contributions to Democracy’s Library:

  • United States .gov websites collected since 2008; 
  • Crawls of the U.S. state government websites;
  • Digitized microfilm and microfiche from the U.S. Government Publishing Office, NASA and other government entities;
  • Crawls of government domains from 200 other countries;
  • 50 million government PDF documents made into text searchable information.

It will be a collaborative effort, said Kahle, calling upon others to join in the ambitious undertaking to contribute to the online collection.

The need for Democracy’s Library

“We need Democracy’s Library. The Internet Archive’s work leading this project represents a critical step in the evolution of democracy,” said Jamie Joyce, executive director of The Society Library and emcee of the program. “Archives and libraries, as they’ve always done in the past, will continue to change in their scope, scale, and capabilities to be of critical use to society, especially democratic societies. Tonight is about witnessing another transformation.”

Although there is more data available than ever before, Joyce said, society’s knowledge management system is badly broken. Misinformation is rampant, while high quality government data is buried and scattered across different federal, state and local agencies. 

Having public material consolidated, digitized and machine readable will allow journalists, activists, and others to be better informed. It will also make democracy more transparent and accountable, as well as protect the historical documents. “We will not be able to compute in the future what we do not save today,” Joyce said.

At a time when polarized politics can put information at risk, the event highlighted the need to safeguard public data.

Gretchen Gehrke, co-founder of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, has been working in partnership with the Internet Archive to track changes in federal environmental websites. 

“People should be able to know about environmental issues and have a say in environmental decisions,” she said. “For the last 20 years, the majority of this information has been delivered through the web, but the right to access that information through the web is not protected.”

Gehrke described how public resources and tools related to the federal Clean Power Plan, a hallmark environmental regulation of the Obama administration, were taken down from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website under President Trump’s tenure. 

“There are no policies protecting federal website information from suppression or outright censorship,” Gehrke said. “This case serves as an example of why we need Democracy’s Library to preserve and provide continued access to these critical government documents.”

When statistics are being cited in policy debates, citizens need to be able to have access to sources of claims. For example, Sharon Hammond, chief operating officer of The Society Library, said documents related to the environmental impact of California’s Diablo Canyon power plant should be easily available. There are nearly 5 different government bodies that have some role in monitoring the plant’s ecological impact, but the agencies house the reports on their own websites. 

“Finding governmental records about public policy matters should not be a barrier to becoming an informed participant in these collective decisions,” Hammond said. “When we connect evidence directly to the claims and make that information publicly accessible as a resource, we can improve the public discourse.”

Hammond said a searchable, machine readable repository of government documents, with active links and a register of relevant government agencies, will dramatically increase meaningful access to the public’s information.

An international vision

The effort is an international one, and Canada has stepped forward as an early partner.

Canada has contributed crawls by the Library and Archives Canada of all the country’s government websites, as well as digitized microfilm and books from the Canadian Research Knowledge Network, Canadiana, and the University of Toronto.

Leslie Weir, librarian and archivist of Canada, spoke in support of the initiative. 

“We know by making our collection and work of government openly accessible, we will create a more engaged community, a community that participates in elections, school board meetings, in public consultations, and yes, even and especially in protests,” Weir said. “Access is the key to understanding. And understanding is the underpinning of democracy.”

Celebrating heroes

The festivities concluded with a tribute to Carl Malamud, recipient of the 2022 Internet Archive Hero Award. Corynne McSherry, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, presented the award. “Carl has always seen what the internet could be. He has dedicated his life to building that internet,” she said. “He is a true hero.”

Malamud said government information is more than just a good idea. “It is about the law. It is about our rulebook. It is the manual on how we, as citizens, choose to run our society. We own this manual,” he said. “We cannot honor our obligations to future generations if we cannot freely read and speak and even change that rulebook.”

Malamud urged the audience to get involved to realize the vision of Democracy’s Library and guarantee universal access to human knowledge. 

“This is our moment. We must build a distributed and interoperable internet for our global village. We must make the increase in diffusion of knowledge our mutual and everlasting mission,” Malamud said. “We must seize the means of computation and share their fruits with all the people. Let us all swim together in the ocean of knowledge.”

For more on Malamud’s career and contributions, read his profile here.

Introducing Democracy’s Library

Democracies need an educated citizenry to thrive. In the 21st century, that means easy access to reliable information online for all. 

To meet that need, the Internet Archive is building Democracy’s Library—a free, open, online compendium of government research and publications from around the world.

“Governments have created an abundance of information and put it in the public domain, but it turns out the public can’t easily access it,” said Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, who is spearheading the effort to collect materials for the digital library. 

By having a wealth of public documents curated and searchable through a single interface, citizens will be able to leverage useful research, learn about the workings of their government, hold officials accountable, and be more informed voters. 

Too often, the best information on the internet is locked behind paywalls, said Kahle, who has helped create the world’s largest digital library.

“It’s time to turn that scarcity model upside down and build an internet based on abundance,” Kahle said. There is a need for equitable access to objective, historical information to balance the onslaught of misinformation online.  

Libraries have long played a vital role in collecting and preserving materials that can educate the public. This mission continues, but the collections need to include digital items to meet the needs of patrons of the internet generation today.

Over the next decade, the Internet Archive is committing to work with libraries, universities, and agencies everywhere to bring the government’s historical information online. It is inviting citizens, libraries, colleges, companies, and the Wikipedians of the world to unlock good information and weave it back into the Internet.

Democracy’s Library will be celebrated at the October 19 event, Building Democracy’s Library, in San Francisco and online. 

Watch the livestream of Building Democracy’s Library:

The project is part of Kahle’s vision to build a better Internet—one that keeps the public interest above private profit. It is based on an abundance model, in which data can be uncovered, unlocked and reused in new and different ways. 

“We know there’s an information flood, but it’s not necessarily all that good,” Kahle said. “It turns out the information on the Internet is not very deep. If you know a subject well, you find that the best information is buried or not even online.”

Democracy’s Library is a move to make governments’ massive investment in research and publications open to all. 

Kahle added: “Democracy’s Library is a stepping stone toward citizens who are more empowered and more engaged.“

The first steps of Democracy’s Library are available online at https://archive.org/details/democracys-library.