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.