Author Archives: Caralee Adams

Once Upon a Click: Librarian’s Fairy Tale Journey with the Internet Archive

Once upon a time, Liz Gotauco fell in love with fairy tales. That is, making videos while retelling them with some quirky twists.

Librarian Liz Gotauco, aka “Cosbrarian” across social media.

By day, Gotauco is a full-time public librarian in Rhode Island. On nights and weekends, she creates content for TikTok, Instagram and YouTube under the name Cosbrarian (a portmanteau of “cosplay” and “librarian”). Gotauco takes a traditional fairy tale or folk tale, writes her own scripts, and films herself telling it — often wearing costumes and using props to make it come alive.

To find the original fairy tales, many of which are in books that are out of print, Gotauco often uses the Internet Archive. She lists her more than 100 stories and sources on her website.

“It has been invaluable to me to have an easily accessible resource like the Internet Archive at my fingertips,” Gotauco said. “Sometimes I’m writing my content on the fly—but I don’t want my time constraints to compromise my research. Being able to quickly find a reputable source is such a gift, especially to those of us without academic library access.”

In her saucy, darker, and wilder versions of fairy tales for adult audiences, she weaves in humor and commentary. Gotauco likes to feature lesser-known folklore from a variety of cultures for her series, “Around the World in 80 Folk Tales.”  Many of these books are old and no longer on library shelves, but she often finds them at the Internet Archive.

“I was blown away that there was so much in the collection,” she said. Gotauco recently found Inuit folk tales and stories from Latin America that she adapted. Her online audience also requests stories from their home countries, and she is intentional about representation in her work.   

Once she discovers books in the Archive, Gotauco said she then sometimes buys a copy to add to her collection at home.

Follow Liz across social media:
TikTok
Instagram
YouTube

Gotauco started as a freelance content creator in 2021. It has almost become a part-time job, as she produces about two videos a week, which are available for free to viewers.

“The responses I’m most happy to get are when I make people laugh,” she said. “Especially since I started during the early pandemic, some people were like, “Wow, I just really needed to smile today and this did it for me.’”

Gotauco is busier these days, but plans to continue producing new content and hopes material continues to be available through the Archive to support her endeavor.

“Fairy tales have always been a part of my life. It’s been nice to indulge in that interest and find other people whose interests are the same,” said Gotauco, who has enjoyed tapping into her love for theater. “It’s partially a performance piece, as well as storytelling. I’ve been able to merge my two personas: the theater kid Liz and librarian Liz.”

Public Domain Day Celebrates Creative Works from 1928

Hundreds of people from all over the world gathered together on January 25 to honor the thousands of movies, plays, books, poems and songs that recently entered the U.S. public domain.

Steamboat Willie, Walt Disney’s 1928 animated film featuring Mickey Mouse, had top billing at the virtual event. Literature now free from restriction for reuse includes Orlando by Virginia Woolf and Tarzan Lord of the Jungle by Edgar R. Burroughs. Sound recordings from 1923 (released on a different schedule) joined the public domain such as ”Down Hearted Blues” by Bessie Smith and ”Who’s Sorry Now” by Isham Jones Orchestra.

WATCH RECORDING:

“There’s so much to rediscover and to celebrate,” said Jennifer Jenkins, director of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School. For example, the release of The Great Gatsby into the public domain in 2021 inspired a creative flurry — new versions of the novel from the perspective of different characters, a prequel telling the backstory of Nick Caraway, a young adult remix, and song. “From the serious to the creative, to the whimsical to the wacky, these are all the great things we can do…now that [these works] are in the public domain and free to copy, to share, to digitize and to build upon without permission or fee.”

For an overview of new works in the public domain, view the curated list from the Center for the Public Domain.

Remix Contest

The winning film from the Public Domain Day 2024 Remix Contest was shown as well: “Sick on New Year’s,” by Ty Cummings. Every year since 2021, this contest has invited artists to remix works from its collection to showcase new and creative uses of public domain materials. Fifty films were submitted to this year’s competition, according to Amir Esfahania, artist in residence at the Archive. Learn more about the finalists or watch all the submissions in our recent blog post.

Advocacy

“Celebrating the public domain is not just about vintage references and period-appropriate clothing. It’s about understanding history to inform the present day,” said Lila Bailey, Internet Archive senior policy counsel and co-host of the virtual festivities. “We think there should be time set aside every year to celebrate the immense riches that free and open culture provides to everyone.”

While federal holiday recognition (like MLK Day or Presidents’ Day) for the public domain is unlikely, there was a discussion of an advocacy campaign for establishment of a commemorative Public Domain Day (more along the lines of National Data Privacy  Day or National Whistleblowers Day).

“It only requires a simple resolution in the Senate with high chances of recognition,” said Amanda Levendowski, director of Georgetown Law School’s Intellectual Property and Information Policy Clinic. “Prospects for passage are way better than possible. About 80 percent of proposals are passed — and maybe next year, Public Domain Day will be among them.”

Experts said a successful drive for the designation will require a collaborative effort. A kickoff event will be held February 29 in New York City, hosted by Library Futures, executive director Jennie-Rose Halperin announced.

AI and the Public Domain

The online program also featured a panel discussion on generative artificial intelligence, copyright and artist expression. Experts weighed in on just what should be the copyright status of the outputs of generative AI.

Panelists (clockwise from top left): Lila Bailey (Internet Archive), Heather Timm (artist), Maxximillian (artist), Matthew Sag (Emory Law), and Juliana Castro Varón (Cita Press).

Now, AI tools can turn text or simple descriptions into images that are  genuinely new and often look like exactly the kind of things that people get copyrighted if a human made them, explained Matthew Sag, professor of law, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science at Emory University.

“The copyright office is quite clear that to get copyright, you have to have human authorship. So something created entirely by an unsupervised machine is not eligible for copyright,” Sag said, noting that the courts have recently agreed. “The interesting question is what about when humans are using AI as a tool and directing the output. This is where the controversy really is.”

On the panel, two artists, Heather Timm and Maxximillian, shared how they both leverage AI in the creative process.

Timm said she started using generative AI in 2021 and thinks the copyright office should cover works that have results from it. She has trained AI models on her own physical work and then created something new collaborating with the machine, as well as conceptualized how to blend different pieces of work in a collage or sculpture.  

“I use it almost as a notebook,” Timm said. “If I have a concept or an idea about something on the go, I can immediately prompt that and have it as a placeholder to explore it later.”

As a filmmaker and musician, Maxximillian said she feels passionate about AI and it has saved her time creating animated characters and helping refine her text. “As a professional artist, I rely on copyright to keep viable the works that I produce for clients legally,” said Maxximillian. “It’s important to understand that copyright protection enables the creator to be a steward of that work. The question to consider: Who benefits by denying copyright on AI? I think nobody benefits.”

An open access publisher, Juliana Castro Varón, design director and founder of Cita Press, also addressed the issue. “I believe that AI may pose economic, power, and labor challenges, but I feel very confident that creativity will survive technology,” she said. All books Cita produces are in the public domain for everyone to download. “We are not at all against people using AI for their work, but we continue to hire humans…elevating the work of people is core to our mission.”

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The event was co-hosted by Internet Archive and Library Futures with support from Creative Commons, Authors Alliance, Public Knowledge, SPARC and Duke Law’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain.

Internet Archive an ‘Information Lifeline’ for Librarian Professionally and Personally

When Zeau Modig began as the graduate school librarian at the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) nearly a decade ago, many of the students lived nearby. They came to the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, campus to check out some of the library’s 1,500 print books and make photocopies.

Zeau Modig, librarian

Today, the majority of students live elsewhere in a dozen different countries from Brazil to Hungary—and instruction has moved online. This is driving up demand for e-books. Modig has found resources on the Internet Archive to fill the gap between what her physical library can provide and the needs of her community.

“The Internet Archive has been amazing for us to be able to get material into our students’ hands, and making it accessible, especially for the people overseas studying in less developed countries,” Modig said. “If you’re not in the United States it’s not as easy to get books because of shipping—it could take weeks to get there. The Internet Archive has really been a tremendous help to our students.”

The graduate program attracts students who are often mid-career, working in education, criminal justice, business or any field looking for strategies and scholarship to address conflicts, repair harm, and restore community among individuals and groups. To understand the foundational ideas behind restorative practices, the classes sometimes assign readings of theoretical models that are hard to find. Modig said students often turn to the Internet Archive to find obscure books or journals that have otherwise vanished.

Modig said she values the Archive’s collaboration with Wikipedia to turn reference links in Wikipedia articles blue, connecting citations to the original source content in Archive’s digital collections. This effort gives scholars single-click access to verify information for their research.

“It’s made my life as a librarian so much easier,” Modig said of the Archive. “The faculty, too, most of whom work remotely, really appreciate having books at their fingertips.”

Outside her job, Modig said she uses the Archive for genealogy research, leisure reading and entertainment. She recently discovered a commemorative family reunion volume from 1883 on her French Huguenot relatives that gave her insight into her family history. Inspired by the Netflix series, “The Queen’s Gambit,” Modig checked out the original novel on which the show was based.

“Internet Archive has become an essential information lifeline for my graduate institution’s students and faculty, and also for me personally.”

Zeau Modig, librarian, International Institute for Restorative Practices

Unfortunately, as a result of the publishers’ lawsuit against the Internet Archive’s lending library, “The Queen’s Gambit” is no longer available for borrowing. 

When Modig learned that the book can no longer be checked out to one reader at a time, she paused. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to enjoy this book while I could,” she said. “I hope that the publishers involved in the lawsuit against the Internet Archive will come to realize the advantages that controlled digital lending holds for them as well as for readers, and allow the Internet Archive to restore access to their content.”

“Overall, the Internet Archive has become an essential information lifeline for my graduate institution’s students and faculty, and also for me personally,” Modig said. “It would be deeply disappointing for us if this rich trove of content is no longer available through the Internet Archive.”

Genealogist uncovers family histories with help of Internet Archive

In tracing her family history, Taneya Koonce discovered stories about her African American ancestors in records going back to the late 1700s. Many were enslaved. She followed the path of some descendants from North Carolina to New York in the Great Migration. 

Taneya Koonce

The Internet Archive is among the many sources that Koonce has relied on in her research. From her home in Tampa, Florida, she regularly accesses the collection’s online yearbooks, newspapers, location histories, and government records to piece together her family’s story—and has also contributed material in hopes of helping others.

“As a genealogist and family historian, the breadth of digitized materials in the Internet Archive is essential to my research and an invaluable source of information in my family history quest,” said Koonce, who works as an information scientist at an academic medical center.

Koonce began to record stories in her family by interviewing her grandmothers nearly 30 years ago. She learned about several siblings of her maternal grandmother who died in infancy and the hardships they faced in life. Rediscovering her notes from those conversations after they died, Koonce began to dive into genealogy in earnest in 2005.  

Her interest turned from a hobby to a passion in recent years. Koonce maintains a family genealogy website, created a web database for research of Koonce surnames from all over the country, publishes on her genealogy blog, and runs a collaborative genealogy-focused online community, the Academy of Legacy Leaders.

Having found so many historical items on the Internet Archive, Koonce teaches others how to use the collection in their own research. She’s active in genealogy societies, frequently presenting to others about the wealth of materials online.

Koonce applauded the Archive for preserving New York voter lists that helped her find one of her ancestors. After researching slaveholders by the name of Koonce, she connected with a man in Wisconsin who had published a “Koonce to Koonce” newsletter on the family’s history. With his cooperation, Taneya digitized and uploaded the newsletter to the Archive to preserve it for others. She always documents her findings, should they be of interest to others pursuing their family history.

“I specialize in helping family historians be very cognizant about planning for the future and leaving a legacy,” said Koonce, who has presented about the importance of saving family history research for the next generation. “One strategy is sharing material on the Internet Archive. I want to help educate people that it is a library. It’s dedicated to preserving content for the future. If we can contribute information to the collection, we can spread the word about what we’re doing and make sure it’s long lasting.”

Using the Wayback Machine to Understand the Cultural Roots of New Technologies

As an academic librarian helping connect students and faculty with the research materials they need, Sanjeet Mann has turned to the Internet Archive many times.

“I really value having the Wayback Machine as an additional tool in my librarian’s toolbox,” Mann said. “Information preservation is an essential, but often overlooked, part of the infrastructure for teaching and learning.”

Mann, currently working as the Systems & Discovery Librarian at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB), said he first learned about the value of the Internet Archive in 2006 during his library science master’s program.

Over his career, Mann has worked at various libraries, tapping into the Archive on the job.

Assisting budding writers, composers and artists as Arts Librarian at University of Redlands, Mann found that the vast amount of free information online, including biographies, can shape students’ projects.

“We can draw on the Archive whenever we need inspiration for creative work, or when we need to understand how current scholarship and the issues that we’re facing now aren’t completely new—they’re based on this history of work by scholars, by politicians, by citizens active in the public interest,” he said. “These issues tend to recur over time. As a society, we need to know where we have been in order to meet the challenges of the future.”

At CSUSB, Mann also helps computer science and business students use the Archive’s collections to better understand the cultural roots of new technologies—the historical context for their innovations.

“It is the only entity I’m aware of that preserves the Internet’s scholarly and historical record at this scale,” Mann said.

“I really value having the Wayback Machine as an additional tool in my librarian’s toolbox.”

Sanjeet Mann, librarian

On a practical note, Mann leveraged information through the Wayback Machine when he was researching how to set up a campus laptop loaner program for University of Redlands. This can be an essential service that libraries provide students who have trouble with their computers.

Mann wanted to understand policies at other universities, such as how they handled the return of damaged laptops. Looking at archived versions of university library websites through the Wayback Machine, Mann was able to learn about other approaches and find contacts to follow up for additional details.

The Internet Archive is a source to verify information that is no longer listed on websites, he said.

“Companies themselves don’t have any incentive to archive the history of their website. New products get launched. The platform gets migrated from one platform to another,” Mann said. “An organization like the Internet Archive, being a library, is uniquely positioned to meet the need in society of ensuring some kind of continuity of memory and having a public record. Especially with the government being very partisan these days, I think there’s value in the Internet Archive being an independent, not-for-profit that operates in the public interest.”

Mann added: “Without the Archive, we would lose decades of information about our society at a crucial turning point in its development, eroding trust in online systems and requiring educators, students and researchers to reconsider the way we do our work and share it with others.”

Academic Librarian: End to Controlled Digital Lending Would be ‘Detrimental’ to Community 

Libraries around the world were forced to shut their doors in the spring of 2020 during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Temple University Libraries was no exception. While the Philadelphia institution’s physical buildings were closed, librarians got creative about how to remain open to students, faculty and staff.

Olivia Given Castello, social science librarian, Temple University

It was all about getting users connected with digital material. Library staff worked together to develop a simple new service—they added a “Get Help Finding a Digital Copy” button to their library catalog. When searching for resources in the library catalog, users can click on the button to request assistance finding a physical item in digital form, which creates a help ticket for library staff to field.

Within the first week of the button launch in April 2020, there were about 350 requests. Since then, the requests have surpassed 9,000.

“Our popular service helps users get access to resources they need quickly without economic hardship, and without having to travel to campus,” said Olivia Given Castello, a social science librarian and unit head in Temple Libraries’ Learning & Research Services department, who helped create the new service.

Temple relies on a variety of sources for its digital requests—including the Internet Archive. “It’s a valuable resource through which we help Temple library users find digital copies of inaccessible or inconveniently accessible items in our physical collection,” Given Castello said of the Internet Archive’s ebooks available through controlled digital lending (CDL).

Charles Library at Temple University

For a large research university, Temple’s library collections’ budget is modest, and it has been challenging to keep up with the rapidly rising costs of journals and monographs given the static library budget in recent years. Additionally, there are ebooks that the libraries are unable to provide. Commercial publishers want to maximize profits gained from ebook sales to individual students, so unlike with print books, there are many ebook titles they refuse to sell to libraries, or refuse to sell with adequate user licensing. Based on past requests, we estimate that just under 20% of the digital items that Temple finds through its new service is in the Internet Archive collection, said Given Castello.

“Our library serves a diverse user community that is socio-economically disadvantaged relative to those at many other R1 U.S. research universities,” she said. The R1 designation indicates a university that grants doctoral degrees and has very high research activity; the list of 146 institutions so designated include the wealthiest private universities in the U.S. “Our users’ ability to access ebooks through the Internet Archive’s controlled digital lending eases financial strain on them.”

“The actions of commercial publishers have put the academic publishing model at risk, pushing the boundaries in ways that prevent libraries from serving the role in society that they need to” Given Castello said. “We’re trying to cope with that. Services like the one we set up, and controlled digital lending for borrowing ebooks from Internet Archive are important in this challenging landscape”

“We can’t let commercial publishers’ short-term shareholder profits take such precedence that they get in the way of equitable access to information.”

Olivia Given Castello, academic librarian

Given Castello wrote about the Temple experience in Supporting Online Learning and Research: Assessing our Virtual Reference Activities and Get help finding a digital copy: A pandemic response becomes the new normal.

“For any university that has a student body with significant economic challenges, organizations like the Internet Archive are just so important in helping make knowledge and information accessible to everyone, regardless of their economic privilege,” Given Castello said. “Libraries exist, in part, so that getting access to the information you need is not dependent on your personal wealth. Inequity of information access is bad for individuals and for society as a whole.”

If legal action were to diminish or shut down CDL, Given Castello said it would be “detrimental” to the university’s service.

She added: “We can’t let commercial publishers’ short-term shareholder profits take such precedence that they get in the way of equitable access to information. Eventually, that will have a long-term negative impact on knowledge creation, which hurts our society, companies, and the economy as well. Sometimes you have to think of the greater good.”

Grad Student Finds Nostalgic ‘Treasure Trove of Goodies’ Through the Internet Archive

As Elena Rowan researches the ways that activist archivers gather and make sense of data, she often relies on the Internet Archive. She is a graduate student in sociology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, with an interest in the debate around copyright and e-books in public libraries. 

Elena Rowan

“I look at why archives and libraries are important to society and culture as a whole,” said Rowan, who uses materials preserved in the Wayback Machine and the lnternet Archive. “Without the Internet Archive, so much of the knowledge and information on the Internet would be lost, and most of my research would be impossible.”

Rowan is in her second year of her master’s program and works as a research assistant at the Data Justice Hub. It is a collaborative research project that pursues data-related skills development for social activists, critical researchers and the general public, and aims to understand how data activists gather and make sense of data.

The Internet Archive has been valuable, she said, in providing information for the project and its podcast, Data Decoded.  

For a recent class on sociology theory, Rowan said she’s found it useful to search for work by early researchers such as W.E.B. Du Bois in the Internet Archive’s collection. Her university library has a wealth of materials, but she says there are times when she can only find an older book through the Archive and, being digital, it’s easier to locate.

With an event sponsored by the Milieux Institute, which offers programs at the intersection of fine arts, digital culture, and information technology, Rowan leveraged the Internet Archive in another way. She created a one-hour Curating Nostalgia workshop where participants could explore resources in the digital collection to create their own personal nostalgia archive.

Listen to the Data Decoded podcast

Logging into the Internet Archive, Rowan taught people how to search for historical documents and pop culture items. For example, she found a beloved video game that came in a cereal box from her childhood, as well as an audio walking tour of her neighborhood from a decade earlier before gentrification changed the landscape. Other workshop participants found books they read as kids, Club Penguin memorabilia and a Nancy Drew game. 

“For scholarly work and nostalgia researchers, it’s a treasure trove of goodies,” Rowan says of the Internet Archive.

In her personal life, Rowan said she’s enjoyed perusing old magazines and obscure cookbooks. She’s found recipes for ambitious cakes, sewing patterns and vintage designs that give her ideas for how to pull together her eclectic mix of old furniture. 

“The colors, writing and patterns of the past offer infinite inspiration for creative hobbies and help cultivate domestic bliss,” she said. “I am grateful to everyone at the Internet Archive for creating, maintaining and continuing to expand and fight for this truly amazing public resource!”

Internet Archive Celebrates Research and Research Libraries at Annual Gathering

At this year’s annual celebration in San Francisco, the Internet Archive team showcased its innovative projects and rallied supporters around its mission of “Universal Access to All Knowledge.”

Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive’s founder and digital librarian, welcomes hundreds of guests to the annual celebration on October 12, 2023.

“People need libraries more than ever,” said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, at the October 12 event. “We have a set of forces that are making libraries harder and harder to happen—so we have to do something more about it.”

Efforts to ban books and defund libraries are worrisome trends, Kahle said, but there are hopeful signs and emerging champions.

Watch the full live stream of the celebration

Among the headliners of the program was Connie Chan, Supervisor of San Francisco’s District 1, who was honored with the 2023 Internet Archive Hero Award. In April, she authored and unanimously passed a resolution at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, backing the Internet Archive and the digital rights of all libraries.

Chan spoke at the event about her experience as a first-generation, low-income immigrant who relied on books in Chinese and English at the public library in Chinatown.  

Watch Supervisor Chan’s acceptance speech

“Having free access to information was a critical part of my education—and I know I was not alone,” said Chan, who is a supporter of the Internet Archive’s role as a digital, online library. “The Internet Archive is a hidden gem…It is very critical to humanity, to freedom of information, diversity of information and access to truth…We aren’t just fighting for libraries, we are fighting for our humanity.”

Several users shared testimonials about how resources from the Internet Archive have enabled them to advance their research, fact-check politicians’ claims, and inspire their creative works. Content in the collection is helping improve machine translation of languages. It is preserving international television news coverage and Ukrainian memes on social media during the war with Russia.  

Quinn Dombrowski, of the Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online project, shows off Ukrainian memes preserved by the project.

Technology is changing things—some for the worse, but a lot for the better, said David McRaney, speaking via video to the audience in the auditorium at 300 Funston Ave. “And when [technology] changes things for the better, it’s going to expand the limited capabilities of human beings. It’s going to extend the reach of those capabilities, both in speed and scope,” he said. “It’s about a newfound freedom of mind, and time, and democratizing that freedom so everyone has access to it.”

Open Library developer Drini Cami explained how the Internet Archive is using artificial intelligence to improve access to its collections.

When a book is digitized, it used to be that photographs of pages had to be manually cropped by scanning operators. The Internet Archive recently trained a custom machine learning model to automatically suggest page boundaries—allowing staff to double the rate of process. Also, an open-source machine learning tool converts images into text, making it possible for books to be searchable, and for the collection to be available for bulk research, cross-referencing, text analysis, as well as read aloud to people with print disabilities.

Open Library developer Drini Cami.

“Since 2021, we’ve made 14 million books, documents, microfiche, records—you name it—discoverable and accessible in over 100 languages,” Cami said.

As AI technology advanced this year, Internet Archive  engineers piloted a metadata extractor, a tool that automatically pulls key data elements from digitized books. This extra information helps librarians match the digitized book to other cataloged records, beginning to resolve the backlog of books with limited metadata in the Archive’s collection. AI is also being leveraged to assist in writing descriptions of magazines and newspapers—reducing the time from 40 to 10 minutes per item.

“Because of AI, we’ve been able to create new tools to streamline the workflows of our librarians and the data staff, and make our materials easier to discover, and work with patrons and researchers, Cami said. “With new AI capabilities being announced and made available at a breakneck rate, new ideas of projects are constantly being added.”

Jamie Joyce & AI hackathon participants.

A recent Internet Archive hackathon explored the risks and opportunities of AI by using the technology itself to generate content, said Jamie Joyce, project lead with the organization’s Democracy’s Library project. One of the hackathon volunteers created an autonomous research agent to crawl the web and identify claims related to AI. With a prompt-based model, the machine was able to generate nearly 23,000 claims from 500 references. The information could be the basis for creating economic, environmental and other arguments about the use of AI technology. Joyce invited others to get involved in future hackathons as the Internet Archive continues to expand its AI potential.

Peter Wang, CEO and co-founder at Anaconda, said interesting kinds of people and communities have emerged around cultures of sharing. For example, those who participate in the DWeb community are often both humanists and technologists, he said, with an understanding about the importance of reducing barriers to information for the future of humanity. Wang said rather than a scarcity mindset, he embraces an abundant approach to knowledge sharing and applying community values to technology solutions.

Peter Wang, CEO and co-founder at Anaconda.

“With information, knowledge and open-source software, if I make a project, I share it with someone else, they’re more likely to find a bug,” he said. “They might improve the documentation a little bit. They might adapt it for a novel use case that I can then benefit from. Sharing increases value.”

The Internet Archive’s Joy Chesbrough, director of philanthropy, closed the program by expressing appreciation for those who have supported the digital library, especially in these precarious times.

“We are one community tied together by the internet, this connected web of knowledge sharing. We have a commitment to an inclusive and open internet, where there are many winners, and where ethical approaches to genuine AI research are supported,” she said. “The real solution lies in our deep human connection. It inspires the most amazing acts of generosity and humanity.”

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If you value the Internet Archive and our mission to provide “Universal Access to All Knowledge,” please consider making a donation today.

Doors Open to Richmond Facility for Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Donation, Digitization and Preservation Process

The Physical Archive in Richmond, California, was buzzing with activity the evening of October 11 as people gathered for a peek at how donations of books, film, and media of all kinds are preserved.

Some guests were long-time fans and others had recently donated or were considering giving their treasured items. Many shared a curiosity about how the Internet Archive operates the digital side of the research library.

“I’m a big believer in libraries—and this is one of the weirdest, coolest libraries,” said Jeremy Guillory of Oakland, California, as he toured the buildings and listened to stories behind the many donations on display.

Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive, gives a tour of the Physical Archive.

Curated collections from individuals included books from Stevanne “Dr. Toy” Auerbach, a pioneering mass media toy reviewer and early childhood studies author. There was also a set of rare dinosaur books and years of the Laugh Makers, a journal about magic and clowning.

Some large institutions, such as the Claremont School of Theology, donated papyrus fragments from ancient Egypt. Among the eight shipping containers of items from the Graduate Theological Union was a children’s hymnal written in Chinese from 1950.

“We get to explore and make available things that may not be able to be seen otherwise,” said Caslon Kahle, a donation coordinator, speaking to visitors at the event. “It’s important to have this historical record preserved for the public.”

Caslon Kahle gives a tour of the Physical Archive.

As they toured the facility, guests learned about the meticulous steps taken to sort materials (avoiding duplication), scan books (by people, turning one page at a time) and preserve fragile film (in a high-tech lab). Many expressed an appreciation for the vast and eclectic collections.

“I think it’s super awesome—all the knowledge in one place,” said Rachel Katz of Berkeley, California, who uses the Wayback Machine in their work at a nonprofit organization, researching the historic record of health equity, racial justice and environmental issues. “I don’t think I had thought about the political aspect—that when people want power they destroy knowledge, and library preservation is a hedge against that.”

Daniel Toman came to the event after he’d contributed items when his grandfather, a big amateur radio enthusiast, passed away a few years ago. “He had a bunch of equipment, catalogs and books around the house that nobody knew what to do with,” said Toman, who lives in San Francisco. “I told my family about [the Internet Archive] and they were all interested in donating some of his materials.”

Digitization manager Elizabeth MacLeod shows off an image captured from the Internet Archive’s Scribe digitization equipment.

Larry and Ann Byler drove from Sunnyvale, California, to get a first-hand look at the physical archive as they decide what to do with their books, records (78s, LPs, 45s), cassette tapes and home movies that they’ve accumulated over the years.

Ann, 81, said some of their film collection includes black-and-white images of trains that go back to the 1940s. She likes the idea that the Internet Archive could digitize the films at a high resolution.

“I want to get them out of the house—somewhere besides the trash bin,” said Larry, a retired computer programmer, of his wall of media items. “I have this ingrained abhorrence for throwing stuff away.”

At the event, noted film archivist Rick Prelinger provided guests with an inside look at preserving vintage film. “The process is not simple, but it’s achievable when you have resources, and we’re fortunate with the generosity of the Internet Archive that we have resources,” he said.

Kate Dollenmayer demos film digitization and preservation.

Linda Brettlen, an architect from Los Angeles, said she became familiar with the Archive through her daughter, who uses the collection when looking for primary sources in her documentary filmmaking. Brettlen has become a fan herself, particularly, the collection of old postcards of L.A. buildings that no longer exist.

“I love that it’s the best use of the Internet,” she said of the Internet Archive at the event. “This is a positive beacon.”

From Fake News to Open Data: Studying the Histories of Digital Media Using the Wayback Machine

As scholars of digital media studies, Liliana Bounegru and Jonathan Gray say the Internet Archive preserves artifacts that are integral to their work.

Jonathan Gray and Liliana Bounegru

The two academics work at King’s College London in the Department of Digital Humanities—Bounegru is a lecturer in digital media and Gray is a senior lecturer in critical infrastructure studies. They are both interested in studying how media has changed with digital technology. The Internet Archive collection has been useful as they examine the history of the web, trends and evolution of websites and changes in technology, society and culture.

In one study of online myths and disinformation, the researchers used the Wayback Machine to understand how tracker signatures (snippets of code that embed ads and analytics on a website) of viral “fake news” sites changed over time. As websites were blacklisted from major ad networks, they looked up the archived versions of the websites to follow how their money-making practices via ads changed over time. This project was completed in collaboration with BuzzFeed news, which published an article about the findings and analytical techniques.

This investigation builds on work that Bounegru and Gray did with First Draft, a nonprofit that works with journalists to support investigations around misinformation. They analyzed the tracker signatures of mainstream news sites alongside those of junk news sites to understand their different monetization and audience economics practices.

As a result of their investigations, the researchers created A Field Guide to Fake News that explores how digital methods can be used to study false viral news, political memes, and trolling practices. “It became widely used by a network of hundreds of media organizations and fact checking groups as well as for training people doing investigative work on disinformation,” Gray said. Together with other collaborators at the Public Data Lab which they co-founded, Bounegru and Gray wrote a paper in New Media & Society about the threat of misleading junk news on social, economic and political life and the questions that it raises about social media and online content sharing platforms.

Gray has long been interested in the politics of open and public data and is writing a book on the subject. This involves tracing how open data policies and practices have developed around the world, and he said it’s been valuable to be able to search and analyze open data websites through the Wayback Machine. As part of research for the book he published an article in Data & Policy, from Cambridge University Press, about the rise of data portals as online devices for making data public.

 “In the case of data portals such as data.gov.uk we see a shift from more sociable and experimental design approaches aiming to surface questions, engage communities and support cultures of socially oriented invention to more muted, minimal expert facing infrastructures,”  said Gray. “It could be considered a certain kind of success for open data advocates that portals have become so established and institutionalized, but also suggests that maybe there’s less interest in being inclusive,accessible, responsive or thoughtful in reaching communities that may be less technically oriented or those who don’t already know what they are looking for or what kinds of data is likely to be found.”

In working with their students, both Bounegru and Gray share ways that the Internet Archive can be useful for research. Through hands-on research activities with the Wayback Machine they explore how it can show how web content, user interfaces and web categories change. It can even provide evidence of broader societal change, such as how political views have shifted over time. The Archive can reveal large-scale changes and allow researchers, journalists, students and community groups to gain a richer appreciation of digital media history.

Added Bounegru: “We use the Internet Archive a lot. It is an essential tool for our research.”

Slide on how the WayBack Machine is being used from Bounegru and Gray’s “web histories” class as part of digital methods course at King’s College London.