How Can You Help the Internet Archive?

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.

Use The Internet Archive Site

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.

A lot of our strength as a collection comes from individuals uploading items they or their community have created, and in need of a hosting space that will provide access to the item continually, without limits. Artists upload their music albums, podcasters upload their episodes, and hundreds of organizations upload their media and meetings to us, to ensure they’re kept safe.

Tell People That the Internet Archive Exists

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).

We have a collection of images and logos from our years of work if you wanted to illustrate or link to examples of who we are and what we do.

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.)

The Building Technology Heritage Library is a 11,000 item strong collection of catalogs, layouts and information about all sorts of architecture and aspects of building. Maintained by the Association for Preservation Technology, these readable and downloadable works are a trove of artwork and design that are scanned, including, you’ll soon discover, items that have a tangent to building but also represent massive insights into long-lost items, like this 1,000 page Montgomery Ward Catalog.

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 hundreds of guests in our Slack and other communication channels, working on open-source code and helping us improve the software that drives us.

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.

We’ll be here when you’re ready.

39 thoughts on “How Can You Help the Internet Archive?

  1. Deborah C.

    I totally support Internet Archive, and sincerely hope and pray nothing ever happens to you!! Since I’m out of work and confined due to CoVid-19, I have been working on my family history on an almost daily basis. Working on my family history is the only thing helping me through the isolation of being single. The Internet Archive has been invaluable and I have found really old books with my ancestors listed that I wouldn’t have otherwise found. I wouldn’t be nearly as far along in my research if it weren’t for Internet Archive. God Bless Y’all.

  2. Wonsoon choi

    It is really amazing. We would like to thank the families who guide us to this information sea.

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  4. BernieJMC

    Many thanks to all you guys at Internet Archive.
    Over the lockdown weeks, turning into months, you have been a fabulous resource in my effort at writing my first novel. Its nearly complete after five years in the making.
    Now lockdown for my over-70 age group has been extended to 1 September
    BernieJMC
    Bogota, Colombia

  5. Joe Clark

    I do not see Brewster Kahle or the Internet Archive seriously and consciously addressing the serious and conscious effort to remove it from the Internet forever. That is the effect the publishers’ lawsuit will be allowed to have.

    What precisely are you doing to prevent your own destruction?

  6. ایران نوا

    Over the lockdown weeks, turning into months, you have been a fabulous resource in my effort at writing my first novel. Its nearly complete after five years in the making.

  7. K. M.

    Open Library and the Internet Archive are so important. There are many old books that libraries in my community refuse to buy because it would be a bad investment to buy a used old book and those books have not been republished, so they can’t order brand-new copies. I have found so many of the books I have wanted to read my child here on IA and OL. Sure, nothing beats an in-your-hand tangible copy but this will do. Plus, as I spend a great deal of my time overseas in the Middle East (Iran), and do not have access to these books here AT ALL, we are able to supplement our homeschooling and reading through the books on this site. I really hope there is a way around the copyright issues as the current system is really hard to work with/inaccessible/unaffordable. IA and OL really do help. I do check other platforms first as a rule but if I can’t find it elsewhere, I know IA and OL may have it. Thanks for your hard work to make information accessible. You have transformed our lives and I hope the copyright/IP issues do not make this wonderful service go away. Let us know if we can help. We do not want this great service to end.

  8. Exclusivenobs

    The Internet Archive has been invaluable and I have found really old books with my ancestors listed that I wouldn’t have otherwise found. I wouldn’t be nearly as far along in my research if it weren’t for Internet Archive.
    Thanks for the wonderful information..

  9. Basudev Basnet

    Internet archive has helped me gained knowledge immensely. I was surely contribute my share when i become financially able.

  10. sandyH

    ill try to help in any way i can.. you are a wealth of help to everyone… however i am really upset that your lending books have became for 1 hour only instead of 14 days ? plz figure how to change this … its impossible to borrow books for i hour
    I am so angry at those vile greedy publishers I Hope they all go bankrupt .. ill boycott them

    1. Alexander Farlie

      Publishers and authors DO currently have the legal rights to enforce copyrights they understand they are entitled to. Additionally, authors can’t turn straw into gold, without somehow being able to afford the pens, paper, and “bread” to do so. So I can never agree with the sentiment you express towards publishers.

      Getting angry at publishers is not helpful. Getting your elected representatives to “change the system” so that copyright works for the many (including readers, authors and publishers alike) and not just a few would be more productive, then getting angry with a few publishers.

      I’ve been hearing a bit about a UK scheme whereby many lending libraries pay a compensatory charge to publishers and authors in respect of in copyright works they loan. I cannot see why a “statutory license” for digital e-book lending (administered by, and with the relevant fees payable to an agency independent of the nominal copyright owners) could not be used in the US. I mean “a statutory license” is what lets many radio stations play old recordings, and that model for the most parts works for most users of music, doesn’t it?

  11. Rosemary Stanfield

    I recommend archive.org to my students every semester, and to friends frequently.

  12. Giorgi TCHEISHVILI

    This is a great site, especially for countries like Georgia where scholars could not get academic books/articles. The site helped me enormously to prepare and publish papers/chapters/books. I’m not sure whether I could do my academic work without this site. Those Publishing Houses have to be proud that archive.org has brought to such a huge audience their production. Thanks to archive.org

  13. Brian Irvine

    As a result of cancer I have an almost non-existent immune system which as left me in a near isolation situation for 6 years now & Internet Archive has since become my number 1 website. As a member and financial supporter for over 10 years now I have utilized Internet Archive on a daily basis for its many services. It does my heart proud to hear and read of the increased awareness of Internet Archive and all the hard work and dedication to make this site into the huge success that it is today.

    Thank you to everyone at Internet Archive for all that you do and for providing such a wonderful facet to my life over the last 10 plus years.

  14. ray taylor

    What is the deal with the “borrow for 1 hour” nonsense that I keep seeing? That is definitely NOT the way to garner MY support.

    1. Alexander Farlie

      I personally think the Internet Archive should sincerely consider conceding that certain publishers and authors are (perhaps justifiably) never going to be satisfied with ‘lending’ of “in-copyright works” (be it 14 days, be it 1 hour), and just scrap “controlled digital lending” entirely , concentrating the focus of Internet Archive on protecting and preserving the “public domain”. I would of course rather see pragmatism prevail over ideology and the scrapping of “digital lending of in-copyright works” at the present time would seem to me to be a very sensible pragmatic response.

      I appreciate this could be controversial shift in focus, which would require a very extensive explanation on the front page of the site. An explanation that would need to explain why such action was taken “to protect the public domain” even if Internet Archive has reasons as to why it would otherwise (hopefully) vigorously object to it.

      The alternative is the site effectively being ‘sued’ out of existence (which could lead to a loss of access to portions of the “public domain”) a situation which hopefully no-one wants.

      Another option is to in effect “pull down the shutters” of the entire site until the lawsuit is a settled matter, redirecting all traffic to the site to a suitable landing page (or blog post). This would need to include download requests for files, and API requests. I do appreciate that a “shutters down” approach would have many potential ‘ripple’ effects. It would however obviously prevent access to works and resources in dispute.

  15. Lee Stone

    It’s impossible to relate how important Internet Archive has become.

    From my early days of using it to find Public Domain movies to the many varied uses today, including the book lending and wayback machine, it has been incredibly helpful.

    As physical libraries have to deal with space restrictions, they often sell old books to make room for new ones.
    This means that after a couple decades, some books just fall out of existence unless you can find a copy on eBay.

    I also like that it uses a more traditional library approach for the library-lending books, one person at a time with each person having a set number of checkouts at a time.

    And for the non-library-lending books, I like that I can download a copy to read offline or keep as an archive for referencing later.

    I really like to browse through ’60s, ’70s and ’80s paperbacks. The covers. The writing.
    Modern books almost bore me because of their presentations and topics.

    Cookbooks!
    Cookbooks that are out of print. Authentic books with all the original page images.
    Not a word-by-word copy in a text blog, but the real things.
    Complete with photographs.

    Magazines you’d thought you’d never see again.

    Books on BASIC and Adventure Game Interactive Fiction. Just try to find that stuff today!

    Wayback Machine has helped me several times in finding sites I had lost or connecting with sites referenced in an article that no longer exists.

    My roommate and I donate to Internet Archive and it’s something we believe enriches people lives. It’s something we strongly support.
    Thank you for being there.

    I think that what may be irritating the publishers the most is the possibility of services like Hoopla and Libby dropping them or not wanting to pay to host their books in a place like Internet Archive is carrying them.
    The best way to deal with that, I think, is to just limit Internet Archive to where the books it hosts are at least 20 years old according to the copyright page of the book.

    Libby and Hoopla both deal with more newer books and if Internet Archive was to focus on pre-2000 books, it would possibly help it survive the assault of the mind-killers, I mean the publishers.

    1. Alexander Farlie

      Backing up the “public domain” is a good idea. But SOLELY and ONLY the “public domain.”

      After all publishers and authors are still legally entitled to enforce copyrights they understand they are entitled to, and could just as justifiably enforce those copyrights against any ‘alternative’ site. (As they have legally done so against countless other sites in respect of un-countable works in past years.)

  16. Alexander Farlie

    My view, What could individual IA users, contributors and readers do to help?

    * Firstly , by actively educating and lobbying your elected representatives, making them aware of both the Internet Archive and the potentially negative disproportionate consequences the pending lawsuit could have for access to the public domain, education and access to free knowledge, asking those representative to the extent that they can, to intervene. Please be aware however that publishers and authors DO have the right to enforce copyrights they are entitled to.

    *Secondly, by approaching libraries and archives, in your local area asking them to lobby on the issues raised by recent events, as well as encouraging them to make use of IA provided resources, within their own institutions.

    *Thirdly, Continue to make use of the resources IA provides that are not in dispute.

    I also hold a personal view that the Internet Archive should also (if they are not already planning on doing so) with immediate effect make a massive donation of copies of ALL the “public domain” materials it has (like the hi-res scans and PDF’s of every single pre 1923 book published in the US that exist in IA collections) to the Library of Congress ( who would be reasonably expected to be fully aware of copyright concerns.) effectively mirroring the materials it holds to a large federal institution, and “in parallel” to other substantial institutions like the Smithsonian, California Digital Library and so forth. , so that access to the “public domain” remains available whatever the outcome of the lawsuit. (I would also personally like to see institutions outside the US like The British Library, National Library of Scotland, and Bodleian get “parallel” donations of material as well.).

    1. Alexander Farlie

      In clarification to my earlier comment “as well as encouraging them to make use of IA provided resources, within their own institutions.”, any and all encouragement to libraries and archives should be SOLELY and ENTIRELY limited to the public domain resources on IA. Libraries and archive like other knowledge providers are only to aware of copyright concerns as well.

  17. Pragya

    I love, love, love the work you are doing. I have been able to access many older out-of-print books that are not available anywhere else in any format. I have been on several trips to the past with your old movie clips. Every time I come here, I discover something new in your archive.

    I wish you loads of strength and courage to continue doing the awesome work that you all are doing. You are enriching us in several ways by keeping our past alive. All the very best!

  18. ایران نوا

    especially for countries like Georgia where scholars could not get academic books/articles. The site helped me enormously to prepare and publish papers/chapters/books. I’m not sure whether I could do my academic work without this site. Those Publishing Houses have to be proud that archive.org has brought to such a huge audience their production. Thanks

  19. ایران نوا

    I love, love, love the work you are doing. I have been able to access many older out-of-print books that are not available anywhere else in any format. I have been on several trips to the past with your old movie clips. Every time I come here, I discover something new in your archive.

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