Author Archives: Caralee Adams

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.

What Happened at the Virtual Library Leaders Forum?

The Internet Archive team, its partners, and enthusiasts recently shared updates on how the organization is empowering research, ensuring preservation of vital materials, and extending access to knowledge to a growing number of grateful users.

The 2023 Library Leaders Forum, held virtually Oct. 4, featured snapshots of the many activities the organization is supporting on a global scale. Together, the efforts are making a difference in the lives of students, scholars, educators, entrepreneurs, journalists, public servants — anyone who needs trusted information without barriers.

“It’s important for us to recognize that the Internet Archive is a library. It’s a research library in the role that it plays, in the way that it works,” said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive.

Watch the 2023 Library Leaders Forum:

With the rise of misinformation and new artificial intelligence technologies, reliable, digital information is needed more than ever, he said.  

“This is going to be a challenging time in the United States when all of our institutions — the press, the election system, and libraries — are going to be tested,” Kahle said. “It’s time for us to make sure we stand up tall and be as useful to people in the United States and to people around the world who are having some of the same issues.”

To provide citizens everywhere with free access to government data, documents, records, the Archive launched Democracy’s Library last year. The collection now has 889,000 government publications, with many more items donated but yet to be organized, said the Archive’s Jamie Joyce at the forum. The goal is to digitize municipal, provincial, state and federal documents, along with datasets, research, records publications, and microfiche so they are searchable and accessible.

The Archive is taking a leadership role in harnessing the power of AI to make its information easier for users to find, Kahle added. It is also preserving state television newscasts from Russia and Iran, along with translations, to allow researchers to track trends in coverage.

Collections as data

Thomas Padilla, deputy director of data archiving and data services at the Internet Archive, reported on a project that examines how libraries can support responsible use of collections as data. Working in partnership with Iowa State University, University of Pennsylvania, and James Madison University, it is a community development effort for libraries, archives, museums and galleries to help researchers use new technology (text and data mining, machine learning) while also mitigating potential harm that can be generated by the process.

Through the effort, the Archive gave grants to 12 research libraries and cultural heritage organizations to explore questions around collections as data, Padilla said. As it became apparent that others around the world were grappling with similar issues, the project convened representatives from 60 organizations representing 18 countries earlier this year in Canada. The group agreed on core principles (The Vancouver Statement on Collections-As-Data) to use when providing machine actionable collection data to researchers. Next, the project expects to issue a roadmap for the broader international community in this space, Padilla said.

Helping libraries help publishers

The recent forum also featured digitization managers from the Internet Archive who are collaborating with partner libraries, including Tim Bigelow, Sophie Flynn-Piercy, Elizabeth MacLead, Andrea Mills and Jeff Sharpe. These librarians are at institutions big and small from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to the Wellcome Trust in London, working with teams of professionally trained technicians to digitize collections.

One of those partnerships is taking an exciting new direction. The Boston Public Library’s partnership with the Archive began in 2007. Over the years, the team has completed digitization of the John Adams presidential library, Shakespeare’s First Folio (his 36 plays published in 1632), more than 17,000 government documents and the Houghton Mifflin trade book archival collection, according to Bigelow, the Northeast Regional digitization manager for the Archive.

The Houghton Mifflin collection includes 20,000 titles dating back to 1832, including some of the best known works in American fiction and children’s literature, such as books by Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Curious George series. The publisher gave BPL the entire physical collection for preservation (90% of which were out of print) and continues to add new titles as they are published. With the formal agreement of Houghton Mifflin, BPL and the Archive have been working together since 2017 to digitize every book—those in the public domain are completely readable and downloadable; those still in copyright are available through controlled digital lending (CDL).

Lawsuit updates

As in Boston, many libraries have embraced CDL. However, commercial publishers have challenged the practice.

Lila Bailey, senior policy counsel for the Archive, provided an update at the forum on the Hachette v. Internet Archive lawsuit, in which the court ruled in favor of the publishers in limiting the use of CDL. The Archive filed an appeal in September.  Bailey encouraged supporters to consider filing amicus briefs when the Archive’s case is expected to be reviewed by the appellate court.

For the Internet Archive—and libraries everywhere—to continue their work, the Archive is advocating for a legal infrastructure that ensures libraries can collect digital materials, preserve those materials in different formats, lend digital materials, and cooperate with other libraries.

“In our evolving digital society, will new technologies serve the public good, or only corporate interests?” Bailey asked in her remarks at the forum. “Libraries are on the front line of the fight to decide this question in favor of the public good. In order to maintain our age-old role as guardians of knowledge, we need our rights to own, lend and preserve books, as we all live more and more of our lives online.”

Celebrating Wendy Hanamura, Internet Archive’s ‘Storyteller-in-Chief’

When Wendy Hanamura came to the Internet Archive nearly a decade ago, she used her talent as a journalist and  media professional to share the story of the organization with an ever-growing audience.

“The power of storytelling is a tool that cannot be underestimated,” Hanamura said.

As she retires this fall as Director of Partnerships, she leaves a lasting imprint on the Archive. Hanamura’s creativity and dedication helped build new connections, attract more donors, and advance the mission of universal access to all knowledge.

“She became the storyteller-in-chief. She’s helped the organization understand itself and communicate what we’ve done,” said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive. “Through that, she has really helped shape the Internet Archive.”

Wendy at the Internet Archive’s annual celebration in 2017, which she produced.

During her tenure, Hanamura oversaw projects big and small that expanded the visibility and sustainability of the Archive. She stewarded relationships that moved the organization into new areas, such as controlled digital lending and the decentralized web. Along the way, Hanamura became known for her personal touch, warmly moderating discussions, mentoring young staffers, and extending her spirit of generosity to others.

“Wendy makes things work. She thinks things through, connects competent people, works to the highest standard, translates between different types of people, and is decisive and diplomatic,” says Jeff Ubois, of Lever for Change, a nonprofit affiliate of the MacArthur Foundation.

Ubois got to know Hanamura when he was at the MacArthur Foundation and she was spearheading the Archive’s proposal for the MacArthur 100&Change competition. Although the Archive wasn’t awarded the grant, it was one of eight semi-finalists of nearly 2,000 applicants for the grant. The major endeavor, Ubois said, required Hanamura to thoroughly imagine and manage a multi-step process, while enlisting the support of others to participate. “Her vision on the one hand and her implementation skills on the other are superpowers,” Ubois said.

Brewster Kahle, Wendy Hanamura and John Gonzalez supporting Internet Archive’s “100&Change” grant submission.

Hanamura began her career in New York as a reporter-researcher at Time Magazine, after graduating summa cum laude from Harvard University. She moved into broadcast journalism and worked as a correspondent in Tokyo for World Monitor on the Discovery Channel. In the San Francisco Bay area she worked at the local CBS affiliate, covering breaking news, and then as a producer at PBS. Hanamura ran an independent documentary company for 15 years, spent time as General Manager of independent tv network Link TV and was chief digital officer at KCET/Link before joining the Archive in 2014.

“I think of myself as a storyteller for change. What it comes down to is telling your story—your vision—convincingly and bringing others into that vision and finding ways to integrate them,” said Hanamura, 62, who lives in San Francisco. “That’s just always what I’ve done whether it be for Time Magazine, a television network, PBS or the Internet Archive.”

Preserving Important Voices

In building partnerships for the Internet Archive, Hanamura said the best pitch is always personal.

She would often hold up the book, Executive order 9066: The Internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans and explain how, after discovering it in her local library in sixth grade, it changed her life. The book is out of print and hard to find. When her son was taking a college class in Asian American identity, it would have been perfect for him. “But his generation believes that if it’s not online, it doesn’t exist,” Hanamura would say. “The only place he can access this book online is the Internet Archive.” She could go on to suggest there are more “valuable, precious” books that need to be available online to people everywhere in the world.

In a tribute to her father’s service in a WWII all-Japanese unit, Hanamura produced a documentary, “Honor Bound: A Personal Journey, the Story of the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team.” Hanamura also became involved in helping Densho, a Seattle-based nonprofit, build a Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration materials at the Internet Archive. Her own mother was 14 when she was incarcerated in wartime camps and today, at 95, is one of the few remaining survivors—a story Hanamura told for the Archive’s 25th anniversary.

Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration

“The people who knew and experienced the Japanese American incarceration are dying in great numbers,” Hanamura said. “I really wanted to make sure that the most important voices, the most important literature and research was captured and preserved for all time.”

Hanamura was able to secure support from the U.S. Department of Interior and National Park Services’ Japanese American Confinement Site program to partially fund the effort.

“Wendy’s love of history, community, and story made working with her and the Internet Archive a joy,” said Tom Ikeda, the founder of Densho who collaborated with Hanamura on the project. “[The Archive] was a natural partner to preserve and share over 1,000 video-recorded oral histories of Japanese Americans incarcerated during WWII.”

‘A Great Connector’

At the Archive, Kahle said that Hanamura explained not only the history of the organization and the dream of the internet as a library, but how it can help people with challenges in the world. She established online fundraising efforts that people cared about—cultivating thousands of donors through her work. Hanamura grew the Archive’s annual contributions from about $350,000 when she started to about $5 million when she turned over philanthropic operations in 2019.

Brewster Kahle and Wendy Hanamura at the DWeb Summit, 2018.

When it came time to celebrate the Archive’s 25th anniversary, it was Hanamura who coordinated the coverage, content and celebration. She also developed the “Way Forward” part of the campaign, an innovative approach to consider where the world would be in 25 years if access to knowledge was not protected.

“Wendy cares deeply about social issues and has a great sense of what might be done to make the world a little more creative, fair, open, and prosperous,” Ubois says.

Hanamura also cares about the rising generation of professionals in technology who will carry on this work in the coming years.  She has supported the decentralized web community and helped it coalesce–from holding Decentralized Web Summits beginning in 2016 to producing DWeb Camps starting in 2019.

“I admire her ability to be such a great connector, which comes from her acute ability in understanding people’s interests and strengths,” said Mai Ishikawa Sutton, who has worked alongside Hanamura as a co-organizer of the camp. “She has an empathetic ear to people as they talk about what they’re working on and what they’re struggling with. She’s a dynamic force when it comes to helping people who are building a better decentralized, resilient web.”

Held in California, the first camp in 2019 drew about 350 people, and by 2023 it had grown to more than 500 participants. From planning the technical sessions to the nitty-gritty logistics of catering and music, Hanamura’s leadership makes it happen, said Ishikawa Sutton.

Wendy and DWeb Camp organizers, 2019.

Catherine Stihler, CEO of Creative Commons, said Hanamura exudes kindness and empathy. “She has an ability to make you feel so welcome. She’s one of those people if you’re in a room of strangers, they aren’t strangers for long,” says Stihler, who has watched her energy, joy and inclusion bring people together at the DWeb camps.

“[Hanamura] is central to the success of this camp. She has her fingerprint on everything from top to bottom,” Ishikawa Sutton said. “She is able to really envision what it means to build a meaningful event where people can share their work, have fun, and be their full selves.”

As a result of the gatherings, many participants have built trust, collaborated on projects, shared grants and been hired—in part, thanks to Hanamura’s effort to connect people, according to Ishikawa Sutton, who is a co-founder and editor of COMPOST, an online magazine about the digital commons, and project manager of Distributed.Press. She has also played a critical role in making the DWeb organization financially sustainable, they added.

“What I love about the Internet Archive is that we are always looking to what’s next and over the horizon,” said Hanamura, who sees great potential in the young, idealistic supporters of the DWeb, calling it a “life-giving movement.”

Lasting Impact

Although Hanamura retired from her position at the Internet Archive Sept. 14, she plans to continue to be involved in the DWeb community as a volunteer.

Hanamura said her decision to step down as Director of Partnerships was prompted by her desire to give her full attention to caregiving for her husband, who has a terminal illness.

Among her final projects at the Archive was creating a meditation garden outside Funston Street building to provide a quiet space for reflection.

The meditation garden that Wendy designed & landscaped as a parting gift to Internet Archive staff and friends.

“Working at the Internet Archive has been a gift and such an education,” Hanamura said “Here, we have the mission to create lasting impact, lasting stories, and lasting artifacts. I am so grateful to the Internet Archive for giving me the opportunity to use my skills toward that end.”

Added Kahle: “The Internet Archive staff and patrons have felt the power of Wendy Hanamura spending her lifeforce building a library all these years.”

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.

‘A USEFUL TOOL’

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.

EQUITABLE POINTS OF ACCESS

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

Image: islelamotte.us

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.