Author Archives: Caralee Adams

Academic Librarian Leans on Internet Archive for Access and Analysis

For Meghan Kwast, having access to the Internet Archive helps her library staff at California Lutheran University operate more efficiently to better serve faculty and students.  

Meghan Kwast, head of collection management services, California Lutheran University

Budgets and staffing limitations have forced Kwast to come up with some creative strategies to meet the needs of users. This includes tapping into the digital resources available through the Internet Archive—especially when there are requests for items not in the university stacks.

“While Interlibrary Loan is available for most scholars, delivery times can vary from a few days to several weeks,” said Kwast, head of collection management services at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks, California. “For researchers and scholars, this is time lost. Internet Archive saves them from these delays.”

The broader, virtual collection often includes niche subjects titles that the Cal Lutheran library doesn’t carry. Also, providing digital, rather than print materials, reduces ILL shipping costs and avoids problems with physical deliveries due to weather, Kwast added.


For librarians like Kwast, the collections at the Internet Archive are helpful beyond connecting patrons with research materials. The Archive has been a useful tool in a campus project to evaluate the diversity of the Cal Lutheran print monograph collection.

Cal Lutheran enrolls about 3,200 undergraduate and graduate students in their College of Arts and Sciences, Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals, Graduate School of Education, School of Management, Graduate School of Psychology, and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary programs. The university operates across southern California, with its main campus in Thousand Oaks and satellite centers in Oxnard, Santa Maria and Westlake Village. The campus demographics have changed since it was founded in 1959—now students come from 59 countries, and the university is designated as a Hispanic Serving institution.

Kwast said she wanted to be intentional about ensuring the library collection reflects the current student population. Last year, the library embarked on an audit of authors represented in its collection. As Kwast’s team began to evaluate the authors, they relied on the Archive’s search engine to find books digitally, rather than having to physically pull them off the shelves.

“Internet Archive makes that process faster and more efficient for us,” Kwast said. “Having these materials digitized makes this project achievable. It makes it possible for us to serve today’s students.”

“The voices in our collection should reflect the voices on our campus, helping students see themselves in the research process and the sources they use.”

Meghan Kwast, head of collection management services, California Lutheran University

It was evident early in the assessment that most titles were written by white, cisgender men. Now, about halfway through the review, Kwast said the library discovered just 2 percent of authors were Hispanic/Latino, yet about 40 percent of the Cal Lutheran population identifies as Hispanic/Latino.

 “Some students from these communities are still trying to see themselves in higher education or in the field that they’re pursuing. The voices in our collection should reflect the voices on our campus, helping students see themselves in the research process and the sources they use,” Kwast said. “Where our collections are now is not reflective of where our community is.”

 Based on what was discovered in the author assessment, this fiscal year Cal Lutheran created a new item in its library budget specifically for purchasing books written by authors who are diverse by race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and ability. The library also started a diverse authors table to highlight some of these works, Kwast noted.


The Internet Archive’s vast collection of digital resources is more needed than ever, Kwast added. During the pandemic, with limited access to their buildings, the Archive helped Cal Lutheran keep their library users connected. “Electronic resources and digital access to information are critical for public safety,” Kwast said.

Today, public libraries still have barriers to accessing materials, Kwast noted. Many of them require patrons to come on-site after registering for a card to verify identification and residence. For those without a home or those who work during normal business hours, this is an insurmountable challenge. Internet Archive removes some of those obstacles by providing 24-7 remote access from any location.

Documents that should be publicly available, such as those produced by Congress and public universities, are instead hidden behind paywalls and layers of complication, Kwast said. Internet Archive helps provide equitable points of access to information, which is a necessity today, Kwast said, regardless of a user’s income or ability.

“As librarians and information professionals, we are dealing with an information landscape that a lot of folks take for granted,” Kwast said, as digital collections are constantly changing with licensing limitations. “Just because [access] is not a problem for you as an individual does not mean it isn’t a very real issue that other folks face in their daily lives.”

Internet Archive is a Digital Oasis for Book and Music Lovers on Remote Vermont Island


Living in the middle of Lake Champlain in Vermont, Eleanor Martinez says she enjoys the beautiful scenery all around, especially the fall foliage. It’s been an idyllic place to retire, but there is one thing she misses: a public library.

Martinez, and her husband, Sid, live on Isle La Motte, which is 7 miles long and 2 miles wide, accessible by one bridge and has a population of 400. There is a library on the island, but it is private, and open by appointment only. The public libraries in nearby towns have limited collections.

“The Internet Archive has been a lifesaver,” says Martinez, who discovered the online collection about two years ago. She’s a regular user of the virtual library, checking out books and music on her laptop in the comfort of her rural home.

The wooded, nine-acre property was a draw for the retirees, who relocated in 2018, but it is remote. In the winter, it can sometimes take more than a week for a snowplow to reach their gravel road. Martinez, 66, lived most of her life in more urban areas in California and Minnesota where she enjoyed large, metropolitan public libraries nearby. The Internet Archive has provided access to materials she would not otherwise be able to enjoy in her small town.

Martinez has tapped into the Internet Archive to check out books, from “The Modern Temper” by Joseph Wood Krutch to “The Theory of the Leisure Class” by Thorsten Veblen. She enjoys vintage cookbooks, books on gardening, knitting and poetry.

Martinez found Down Beat magazines dating back to the 1930s about the jazz and blues scene. She’s also discovered music not available elsewhere on vinyl or CD.

“I was able to check out 33-1/3 records and 78s, too,” Martinez said. “This is a boon to those of us who don’t have access to large collections of records, and for those of us who are low-income and living on a fixed income.”

One of her favorite music items is “In a Clock Store,” a novelty recording from 1907 that includes sounds from a clock in the background. “I’m listening to something that is from a time when my grandfather would have been a teenager,” she said. “It was a different world.”

Another copy of that 78rpm recording shines a light on the importance of digitizing and preserving recordings on the obsolete medium—notes made by the audio engineer at the time of digitization indicate that the second side of this record wasn’t able to be preserved “due to physical condition of disc.”

After a pause, Martinez added a final thought: “The Internet Archive has just about everything I’ve been looking for—even things that are pretty obscure. It’s amazing.”

Student’s Use of Internet Archive Expands from High School to College

Rachel Simmons first used the Wayback Machine for research projects at her Sacramento, California, high school. Now a senior at UCLA, she’s discovered even more ways to find material not available elsewhere.  

Rachel Simmons

Simmons, whose mother and grandmother were both librarians, is an applied math major with a minor in film, television and digital media. As she looks up information about media figures or needs to find a rare film, she says the Internet Archive’s digital collection has been an invaluable resource.

“It’s really great to have access to information for anyone to use from their home computer,” Simmons says. “I don’t physically have to go into a library. If I’m working on something late at night, it’s convenient.”  

When taking a class on American film history last year, she was assigned to research a famous actor; she chose Peter Lorre.

“I’m a big fan of classic horror films and he’s an icon whose legacy has continued long past his career,” she said. “I just wanted to learn more about him and what people thought of him at the time.”

To find those contemporary views of Lorre’s work, Simmons turned to the fan magazine collection in the Archive’s Media History Digital Library. There she found interviews with the actor and reviews of his movies from the 1930s. Despite appearing as a mysterious figure on film, Simmons says she learned the interviews present him as a conventional, regular guy. She gained even more insight through the published fan letters in the magazines. “I found it really interesting that I was reading these letters from almost one hundred years ago,” Simmons said.

For another UCLA course, Simmons tapped into the Internet Archive to view silent German films that were discussed in class. While she was studying, Simmons found herself stumbling onto trailers for other films, which led her to checking out similar movies for fun after her projects were complete. Many of the more obscure titles that interest her are not available on streaming services, she notes.

Simmons says she tells others about the resources available through the Internet Archive—including her family of librarians.

Without Access to a Local Library, Freelance Translator Turns to Internet Archive

Graeme Currie, Freelance translator & editor. Photo:

When Graeme Currie was working at a university, he went to the campus library for research and often lingered in the stacks just to enjoy the collection.

Now, as a freelance translator and editor operating remotely from a small town near Hamburg, Germany, Currie doesn’t have that same access. Without an institutional affiliation, he relies on materials in the Internet Archive for his work.

“It’s been vital for me because, at times, it’s the only way I can find what I need,” says Currie, 51, who is originally from Scotland. “For freelancers who are working from home without a library nearby and using obscure sources and out-of-print books, there’s nothing to replace the Internet Archive.”

Currie first heard about the Wayback Machine in the early 2000s as a means to check changes in websites. Then, he discovered other services that the Internet Archive provides including its audio and book library.

“For freelancers who are working from home without a library nearby and using obscure sources and out-of-print books, there’s nothing to replace the Internet Archive.”

Graeme Currie, freelance translator & editor

As he edits and translates academic books from German to English, Currie says he often has to check book citations—looking up page numbers and verifying passages. The virtual collection has been helpful as he researches a range of topics in the arts, social sciences and the humanities. Currie says he’s borrowed titles related to philosophy, criminality and global urban history, including the early history of tourism in Sicily.

Not only are many of the books hard to find, but Currie says logistically, they are difficult to obtain. Without the Internet Archive, Currie says he would have to wait weeks for interlibrary loans or try to contact the book authors, who are often unavailable.

“I simply could not do my job without access to a virtual library,” says Currie, who has been freelancing for about five years. “The Internet Archive is like having a university library on your desktop.”

Learn more about Currie at

Citizen Journalist Traces the Science to Debunk Public Health Misinformation

Sarah Barry wanted to become a fighter for something—but she didn’t know exactly what.

Citizen journalist Sarah Barry

“I was frustrated with all that was going on in the world. I knew I couldn’t wave a magic wand and fix everything, but I wanted to help in some small way,” said the 28-year-old who lives in Columbus, Ohio, and works in IT.

She decided to leverage her research skills to help correct misinformation about vaccines and public health.

For Barry, the Wayback Machine has been critical in tracking the science and sharing what she’s discovered. Without the Internet Archive, she said, valuable internet history that she needs to do effective research would have been completely lost.

“I use the Internet Archive to look up old links and resources that have since gone defunct,” said Barry. “I also use the Archive to actively input web pages that need to be saved or saved again to ensure that any resources I’m currently using are saved for mine or other’s future reference.”

“It’s a common language among people like me who do research. We all know the Internet Archive is legit.”

Sarah Barry, citizen journalist

She has turned into a citizen journalist and independent activist, volunteering for nonprofit organizations to better inform the public. Barry has given public presentations on her findings and provided materials to reporters that have appeared in a variety of news outlets.

 As a millennial, Barry said she grew up being active online and has long used the Internet Archive as a tool.  “It’s a common language among people like me who do research,” she said. “We all know the Internet Archive is legit.”

Weaving Together the Story of Historic Lace Using the Internet Archive

Mary Mangan, making Ipswitch lace at her home in Massachusetts.

Lace signified wealth in America’s early years. In colonial times, people who wore it improperly could face punishment (both men and women wore lace). During the Revolutionary War, women made lace to supplement their income while the men were away fighting.

Mary Mangan is fascinated by the history of lace in the United States. The Somerville, Massachusetts, resident makes lace herself and is on a mission to raise the profile of lace more broadly. Looking for a project that could be done with other lace enthusiasts remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, they started to research the lace community in Ipswich, Massachusetts, during the 18th century.

Although European nations had many important centers of lace production as economic drivers, only one community in the American colonies developed a bobbin lace industry. Hundreds of people in Ipswich became skilled lace makers and their unusual activity was captured in the papers of Alexander Hamilton who was seeking to understand America’s capacity for production. This unique style of lace adorned fashionable people in the early Republic, including Martha Washington. The origins of this activity and the identities of the lace makers are still being actively sought, and that’s where library collections like the Internet Archive fit in.

“We discovered important social and economic data about the lace and the people who made it. We have identified new names for further research leads.”

Lacemaker Mary Mangan, on using the Internet Archive for her research

Mangan said the Internet Archive proved to be a valuable resource for the project of the New England Lace Group. “The quirkiness of the collection is really interesting,” she said. “With a quick search of a few key words, I came across some really unusual things that I would not have unearthed otherwise.”

Detail of a bobbin lace pattern from Torchon Lace Company Patterns, 1902.

For instance, Mangan found court records detailing the prosecution of people wearing lace in Puritan times. The Internet Archive had links to agricultural pamphlets from Massachusetts about a woman winning a prize for her lace at a fair in 1832, and information that led the research group to a box from Newbury, Massachusetts, in a local museum with lace making artifacts. There were also anecdotes in a 1884 book about individual women, such as Betty B., who made black silk lace.

“We discovered important social and economic data about the lace and the people who made it,” said Mangan, who is a volunteer for her local historical society. “We have identified new names for further research leads.”

Mangan said while the lace society is dedicated to keeping the knowledge of lace alive, its resources are limited. Much of the history of lace is not written down because it was largely women’s work and it can be hard to find information in physical places.

Materials through the Internet Archive allowed her group to access books online that are often out of print, rare and expensive. “The ease of researching from home is a huge benefit,” she said. “It makes the work easy to share with others on the team and saved us from purchasing used books we don’t need.”

Mobile educational exhibit on Ipswitch Lace, featuring materials from the Internet Archive.

As Mangan’s group pieced together the puzzle of the Ipswich lace community, the information was compiled into a poster presentation complete with references and images downloaded from tine Internet Archive. The  mobile educational exhibit is being displayed at libraries, fiber fairs and historical sites throughout New England. For more information, click here.

Live Music Archive Collection Now Tops 250,000 Recordings

For fans wanting to relive an epic concert or discover upcoming bands, there are now more than 250,000 recordings in the Live Music Archive to enjoy. 

The collection has steadily grown over the past 20 years as a collaborative effort between Internet Archive staff and dedicated, music-loving volunteers. At a pace of uploading nearly 30 items a day, the Live Music Archive reached the one-quarter million recording mark in June, and now takes up more than 250 terabytes of data on Internet Archive servers.

“It’s a huge victory for the open web,” said founder of the Internet Archive Brewster Kahle, about the Live Music Archive, which he describes as “fantastically popular” with the public. “Fans have helped build it. Bands have supported it. And the Internet Archive has continued to scale it to be able to meet the demand.”

For years, concert-goers recorded and traded tapes, but in 2002, the Internet Archive offered a reliable infrastructure to preserve performances files. Partnering with the etree music community, the Live Music Archive was established to provide ongoing, free access to lossless and MP3-encoded audio recordings. 

(For more on its history, see

“It shouldn’t cost to give something away,” said Kahle, lamenting fees that can be charged to host items online. “We wanted to make it possible for people to make things permanently available without having to sell their souls to a platform that is going to exploit it for advertising. That just seemed like the world that should exist, and we thought we could play a role.”

Since its launch two decades ago, more than 8,000 artists have given permission to have recordings of their shows archived on the Live Music Archive, and users from around the world have listened to files more than 600 million times. The collection includes the iconic Grateful Dead, as well as aspiring musicians trying to garner attention from the free outlet that spans jambands, folk singers, bluegrass, rock, pop, jazz, classical and experimental music.

The 250,000th item was a Dead and Company show from June 18, 2023.

In 2002, Jonathan Aizen, a technology entrepreneur who helped build the Live Music Archive, said having a free, non-profit, forever host for concert recordings was embraced by music fans. “Until working with the Internet Archive, there were no coordinated and reliable means to preserve and distribute the recordings,” Aizen said. “The only way that these things were being preserved was by copying them — and that was very haphazard, so the music community was very excited.”

Over time, Aizen said it’s been impressive just how many artists have allowed their concerts to be recorded and the organic way the Live Music Archive has grown. “When we started, I had no sense it would last two decades,” he said. “I think it’s really compelling that these recordings are being preserved for posterity. I also didn’t expect the breadth of artists. It’s fair to say that it’s exceeded my expectations by quite a bit.”

In addition to being a resource for fans, the Live Music Archive has been a way for musicians to be discovered. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the accessibility of the recordings on the Internet Archive is exposing bands and drawing people in who then go to the show,” he said. Devoted listeners can track the progress of a band’s career and follow the way songs are played differently on different nights, noting the improvisational element of live recordings, Aizen added.

The passion of the volunteers to curate the collection has been at the heart of the Live Music Archive and is a testament to the strength of the live music community supporting bands. 

David Mallick began uploading to the Live Music Archive in the early days and then came on board as a volunteer curator for about 10 years. He helped recruit bands to participate and helped troubleshoot recordings that others had uploaded. Mallick said free unlimited bandwidth and storage is appealing to musicians, especially for smaller bands just getting started and those who don’t mind sharing their unvarnished recordings. 

“It’s a ‘no ego’ project for the band,” Mallick said. “These are bands that are comfortable enough with their live performances to just say ‘Yeah, put up whatever’ – even if they flubbed a note, screwed up a song, or a fan grabbed a mic.”

Every time Mallick added a recording to the Live Music Archive, he said it was rewarding to know it would always be there for others to hear. “It’s so well organized. Archivists are hosting it, making it uniform, searchable and easy to find things,” he said. 

Added Aizen: “Music is universal — it’s cross cultural and across time,” Aizen said. “To be able to create access, in a world where everything is so commercialized, and just having music be freely accessible, with no ads — that is also something that’s really just special.”

Empowering Anthropological Research in the Digital Age

As a doctoral student in anthropology at Yale University, Spencer Kaplan often relies on the Internet Archive for his research. He is an anthropologist of technology who studies virtual communities. Kaplan said he uses the Wayback Machine to create a living archive of data that he can analyze.

Doctoral student Spencer Kaplan

Last summer, Kaplan studied the blockchain community, which is active on Twitter and constantly changing. As people were sharing their views of the market and helping one another, he needed a way to save the data before their accounts disappeared. A failed project might have prompted the users to take down the information, but Kaplan used the Wayback Machine to preserve the social media exchanges.

In his research, Kaplan said he discovered an environment of mistrust online in the blockchain community and an abundance of scams. He followed how people were navigating the scams, warning one another online to be careful, and actually building trust in some cases. While blockchain is trying to build technologies that avoid trust in social interaction, Kaplan said it was interesting to observe blockchain enthusiasts engaging in trusting connections. He takes the texts of tweets to build a corpus that he can then code and analyze the data to track or show trends.

The Wayback Machine can be helpful, Kaplan said, in finding preserved discussions on Twitter, early versions of company websites or pages that have been taken down altogether—a start-up company that went out of business, for example. “It’s important to be able to hold on to that [information] because our research takes place at a very specific moment in time and we want to be able to capture that specific moment,” Kaplan said.

The Internet Archive’s Open Library has also been essential in Kaplan’s work. When he was recently researching the invention of the “corporate culture” concept, he had trouble finding the first editions of many business books written in the late 80s and early 90s. His campus library often bought updated volumes, but Kaplan needed the originals. “I needed the first edition because I needed to know exactly what they said first and I was able to find that on the Internet Archive,” Kaplan said.

Book Talk: Moving Theory Into Practice

Join Internet Archive’s Chris Freeland for a discussion with Oya Y. Rieger about ‘Moving Theory Into Practice,’ the landmark digitization guide & workshop that sparked a revolution in digital libraries.
Thursday, August 24 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET


As the digital library field emerged in the mid- to late-1990s, librarians faced numerous challenges in building the skills necessary to provide digital access to their collections. That changed in the summer of 2000, when Anne R. Kenney and Oya Y. Rieger (Cornell University Library) produced “Moving Theory Into Practice,” a groundbreaking week-long workshop & digitization guide that offered hands-on, immersive training in digitization and preservation.

The purpose of “Moving Theory Into Practice” was to skill-build librarians, archivists, curators, administrators, technologists, and other professionals who were either contemplating or already implementing digital imaging programs. Its objective was to equip participants with practical strategies that surpassed theoretical concepts, grounded in the latest standards, best practices and informed decision-making.

In our upcoming webinar, we are delighted to talk with Oya Y. Rieger, co-author of “Moving Theory Into Practice.” During the discussion, we will delve into the impacts of hosting these training sessions, shedding light on their significance within the digital library community and the broader library community at the time. We will also explore related training such as Rare Book School, and reflect on large-scale digitization projects like Making of America and state-based efforts to understand the context in which this workshop occurred. Additionally, we will touch upon the evolution of digitization training since the original workshop, providing insights into how the field has matured.


About our speakers

Oya Y. Rieger is a senior strategist on Ithaka S+R’s Libraries, Scholarly Communication, and Museums team. She spearheads projects that reexamine the nature of collections within the research library, help secure access to and preservation of the scholarly record, and explore the possibilities of open source software and open science.

Prior to joining Ithaka S+R, Oya worked at Cornell University for 25 years. For the past ten years she served as Associate University Librarian, leading strategic initiatives, building partnerships, and facilitating sustainable and user-centered projects. During her tenure at Cornell, her program areas included digital scholarship, collection development, digitization, preservation, user experience, scholarly publishing, learning technologies, research data management, digital humanities, and special collections. She spearheaded projects funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Studies (IMLS), the Henry Luce Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Simons Foundation, and Sloan Foundation to develop ejournal preservation strategies, conduct research on new media archiving, implement preservation programs in Asia, design digital curation curriculums, and create sustainability models for alternative publishing models to advance science communication.

Chris Freeland is the Director of Library Services at the Internet Archive, working in support of our mission to provide “Universal access to all knowledge.” Before joining the Internet Archive, Chris was an Associate University Librarian at Washington University in St. Louis, managing Washington University Libraries’ digital initiatives and related services. He holds an M.S. in Biological Sciences from Eastern Illinois University and an M.S. in Library and Information Science from University of Missouri-Columbia. His research explores the intersections of science and technology in a cultural heritage context, having published and presented on a variety of topics relating to the use of new media and emerging technologies in libraries and museums.

Book Talk: Moving Theory Into Practice
Thursday, August 24 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual discussion!

Preserving the Past, Empowering the Future: Unveiling the Wayback Machine’s Vital Role in Investigative Work

A precious tool. That’s how Laura Ranca describes the Wayback Machine in her work.

As a researcher at the Berlin-based organization Tactical Tech and its Exposing the Invisible Project, she helps people use technology to inform, educate and advance causes. Ranca trains journalists, human rights activists, scholars and everyday citizens to use the internet to investigate and gather evidence.

The Wayback Machine has been particularly useful in finding and retrieving lost websites, said Ranca. She also makes sure materials she produces are preserved online so future researchers can build on her work. As people try to document how the public is interacting with technology, the material stored by the Internet Archive has been essential to investigators, Ranca said.

“We face the challenge of websites and webpages being modified, altered or intentionally taken down. Sometimes it’s to hide something that was previously published, but is no longer relevant, or it now has maybe a different connotation than was intended,” Ranca said. “For us, this is very valuable to access historical records and to save different web pages and resources online using the Wayback Machine.”

When researching environmental issues, Ranca has discovered material that reflects missed early warning signs. Finding 20-year-old mining reports, video footage or other documentation affecting the climate can be important evidence in making the case for climate action. These items need to be protected, Ranca said, and the Wayback Machine provides that security. Ranca and the team at Exposing the Invisible conduct workshops on how to navigate the Wayback Machine, as well as train-the-trainer sessions on investigative skills more broadly. She also created guides on how to use Internet Archive content, available as open source through Creative Commons.