Author Archives: Chris Freeland

About Chris Freeland

Chris Freeland is the Director of Library Services at Internet Archive.

Let Readers Read

Ask publishers to restore access to the 500,000 books they’ve caused to be removed from the Internet Archive’s lending library.

Sign the Open Letter


I’m Chris Freeland, a librarian at the Internet Archive. The lawsuit against our library—Hachette v. Internet Archive—is fast approaching the oral argument stage of its appeal on June 28. I’ve been reflecting on our ongoing, four-year experience with this litigation and on the outcome we’re hoping for. Our position is straightforward; we just want to let our library patrons borrow and read the books we own, like any other library. 

We purchase and acquire books—yes, physical, paper books—and make them available for one person at a time to check out and read online. This work is important for readers and authors alike, as many younger and low-income readers can only read if books are free to borrow, and many authors’ books will only be discovered or preserved through the work of librarians. We use industry-standard technology to prevent our books from being downloaded and redistributed—the same technology used by corporate publishers.

But the publishers suing our library say we shouldn’t be allowed to lend the books we own. They have forced us to remove more than half a million books from our library, and that’s why we are appealing.  

Impact

The legal decision and resulting injunction against our library have already had a profoundly negative impact on our patrons. They have inundated us with so many inquiries that our patron services team needed to prepare a Help Document explaining why our collection has been shrinking so rapidly. 

We asked our patrons to share their stories of what losing access to these 500,000 books has meant to them. What’s clear from the hundreds of testimonials we’ve received is the ability to access our books remains an absolute necessity for the many people around the world who depend on our library for their educational and professional development: 

  • Mark, a researcher from New York, said that as an independent scholar without an institutional affiliation, he often struggles to gain access to books he needs for his research. He says that The Internet Archive has been a lifeline for him.
  • We heard from Lucero, an educator from Mexico City, who said that without our library, he wouldn’t have been able to complete his research on Mexican Sign Langauge.
  • Perhaps Mrittika said it best. She’s from a rural region in India and doesn’t have access to rare books. She asks the publishers, “If you are going to ban online availability of these resources, what about us?”

Take Action

In appealing the district court’s decision, our goal is simply to let these readers continue on their journey. We envision a world in which Wikipedians can verify facts by following citations to information contained only in our printed history; where libraries can serve their communities online with collections financed through public investment; and above all, where library patrons are free to read without fear of corporate or government surveillance.

Sign the Open Letter

Please help spread the word across social media: Bluesky, Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, TikTok, Twitter/X

The potential repercussions of this lawsuit extend far beyond the Internet Archive. This is a fight for the preservation of all libraries, and the fundamental right to access information, a cornerstone of any democratic society. We believe in the right of authors to benefit from their work; and we believe that libraries must be permitted to fulfill their mission of providing access to knowledge, regardless of whether it takes physical or digital form. Doing so upholds the principle that knowledge should be equally and equitably accessible to everyone, regardless of where they live or where they learn. 

As we head into this appeal, our message remains clear and unwavering: Let readers read.

Lend your voice to this message by signing the open letter to publishers, asking them to restore access to the books they have removed from our library.

Patrons Speak Out: The Impact of Losing Access to More Than 500,000 Books

Earlier this week, we asked readers across social media to tell us the impact of losing access to more than 500,000 books removed from our library as a result of the publishers’ lawsuit.

The response was overwhelming, and the stories shared were powerful and heartfelt. It wasn’t just titles that disappeared—it was countless memories, research materials, and sources of inspiration for readers around the world. Below, we share some of the most impactful testimonials, highlighting the profound effect these removals have had on readers and researchers everywhere.

If you’d haven’t already done so, please share your story!


Tran D. A., Ha Tinh, Vietnam: It hampers my ability to look up data sources. Books in Vietnam are significantly less accessible and my economic background doesn’t allow me to afford these things.

R.F., Surrey, Canada: As a Wikipedia editor, the Internet Archive is one of the most useful tools to find citations and verify facts. By removing books from the Internet Archive, it hinders the ability to find sources for an open encyclopedia.

Meilan S., Washington, DC, USA: As the online history editor at a national magazine, I use the Internet Archive on an almost daily basis. It’s an invaluable tool for accessing books cited by my writers, conducting research for articles I’m writing, and fact-checking quotes and other information. I regularly link to the Internet Archive in our published content, as I believe we should be as transparent as possible regarding sourcing, in addition to offering readers links to sites where they can learn more about a given topic. It has been disheartening to find the majority of books I need to access for work now listed as “removed.” The removal of this content makes it more difficult for me to include diverse, in-depth and reliable sources in my writing and editing.

Tamia T., Montreal, Canada: Internet Archive gives me access to scholarly information that is not afforded to those outside of the post-secondary education system. The Internet Archive helps bridge the gap when it comes to literacy, comprehension of history, and the discovery of new works that are otherwise gate-kept from the average person.

Olga A., Moscow, Russia: I can’t proceed with my research on bioanthropology, regarding both the current state of this science and the history of this field. None of the books I’m looking for are available for purchase in my country, even if I, by some miracle, managed to find them in second-hand bookshops abroad and had great amounts of money to buy them.

Jason V. M., Tucson, AZ, USA: The Internet Archive has allowed me and my family to access books quickly, conveniently and safely. I’m afraid that without the Archive, access to teaching material for my daughter and studying material for myself has now become significantly limited at my income level and in my area.

Poppy, Indonesia: Most of literature I’ve been using from IA are ones I couldn’t find in my city’s library, either public or academic. Without IA, my academic progress would be halted.

Lyria V.W., Middle River, MD, USA: My school in the past wanted me to read books that were considered banned (like The Great Gatsby and To Kill A Mockingbird) to learn about the culture and history at the time. I did not always have physical access to these books.

Zachary C., PA, USA: Without archive.org’s availability, I would have not been able to further my education on historical architecture and fashion.

Samson W., Omaha, NE, USA: It has made it more difficult to find quotes, to read quotes in full context, and to research language.

Nathan W., Portland, OR, USA: I purchase dozens of books every year, and check out even more from my local library — Internet Archive is an invaluable resource to explore books I’m interested in and quickly search for remembered passages or quotes from books I have already read.

Jefferson C., Managua, Nicaragua: Internet Archive had everything I needed to go through college, whilst not having ANY library available in my home country and with college books costing hundreds of dollars on top of import fee and taxes (which alone could be the salary of a person here).

Marina K., Minneapolis, MN, USA: I am an award-winning artist and writer for video games. I often need to research many diverse topics as an independent artist without institutional backing or studio resources. The Internet Archive is a valuable resource that allows me to create work that interacts more deeply with the world.

Harry S., UK: I’m a student studying Ancient History and having 500,000 books removed will undoubtedly remove my access to some sources I can’t get my hands on otherwise.

Carlos R., Aguascalientes, Mexico: I was reading Story : substance, structure, style and the principles of screenwriting (1997) and I no longer have access to it.

Alicia P., MD, USA: I organize Wikipedia editing events to improve Wikipedia articles about historical topics. We rely heavily on Internet Archive books as sources, since they are publicly available. This is essential for transparency in Wikipedia articles: every factual claim has a footnote, and the reader can click the hyperlink in the footnote to go directly to the source of the information in an Internet Archive book (often an older academic book that is no longer in print or at public libraries anyway).

Renard, Osasco, Brazil: The Internet Archive allowed me to expand my boundaries and access materials that do NOT exist here, or would be incredibly expensive to import, much of the price going to shipping and a reseller’s pockets.

Ethan S., Ottawa, Canada: I have been working on a project to document the history of social democratic governments in Canadian provinces and territories. These governments (by the NDP and CCF) are not well researched and the resources that are available at public libraries don’t always include older books, often written by members of cabinet or caucus. The Internet Archive has had some of the relevant books removed due to the lawsuit.

Berry J., Boston, MA, USA: I understand that publishers and authors have to make a profit but most of the material I am trying to access is written by people who are dead and whose publishers have stopped printing the material.

Chloe, London, UK: Internet Archive allows me to search a large number of books by keyword/name and it triggered my buying a lot of hard copies of books I would have never even known existed. I am so distressed that this has been taken away from me, as I research the history of lesbianism and it is already an extremely difficult niche field to research.

Camila N., Mexico City, Mexico: Cultural heritage, including documentary heritage, is essential for forging identities, offering knowledge, telling human history and promoting the progress of societies accompanied by cultural development.

Mary S., Rochester, NY, USA: It’s an access issue. It’s substantially harder to find the books I’m interested in reading. Heck, even for more common books, the libraries in my area are not practical to get to except by car, and I have a lot of friends who don’t have easy access to a car.

Robin L., Sydney, Australia: Having decreased access to books such as books on collage artists during certain parts of history affects my research, since I have limited to no access to such books in Australian libraries or bookshops both physical or digitally.

Samuel R., Chicago, IL, USA: In many cases there are not physical lending copies of titles i am looking for within 200 miles of my location, and no legal methods available to purchase e-versions. The Internet Archive is far and away the best solution for reading and preserving niche books across a variety of genres.

Zulma P., Covina, CA, USA: The Internet Archive has lots of books my local library doesn’t own and books that are very hard to find.

Thomas R., Manningham, Australia: These books being available on archive.org is a vital resource for me and many like me. A large amount of the Archive was never released in my corner of the globe, meaning I have few if any options for reading on niche subjects.

Juan V., Medellin, Colombia: I am a dance artist and require a big selection of options for my artistic research. Some of the books that I was using on my research are no longer available.

Sage L., Grand Rapids, MI, USA: I am an illustrator and character designer with a passion for science fiction. I use the Internet Archive to research projects that I don’t have enough background knowledge on. I frequently find that books I need are missing.

Oguz Alp K., Antalya, Turkey: In one word I can say: “devastation”. It is very difficult for people like me who live and do research in third world countries to access the books and documents in your archive.

Zachary B., Lockport, NY, USA: As someone who is working to understand the evolution of society through literature, reduced access to many classic works makes gathering information much more difficult.

Andrea T., Canada: I did not go to a university with a giant archive in the library for medieval texts, so to research these topics, free resources like Internet Archive really came into play. Not everyone will have an opportunity to read these books available at libraries. Not everyone can even afford to attend university, where many of these now removed texts are available for free in libraries and archives. Why should other students, and other people interested in these topics, be deprived of this free resource? Going into my Master’s degree, I have now lost a resource I relied on heavily through my post secondary education up until this point, hindering what sort of research I will be able to accomplish as I enter higher education.

Isa B., Lelystad, Netherlands: I was working on several papers for my education and I had to change sources because the literature was inaccessible despite it being of great importance to my research.

Mrittika D. S., Kolkata, India: Resources I had previously found on the Internet Archive site were all of a sudden no longer available when I searched for them. Hence, I faced a huge problem in completing my papers, as I had already formed a plan on what sources I wanted to refer to, and my plan was completely disrupted.

Schuyler V., Troy, NY, USA: While I am lucky to be near many physical libraries, none are as convenient and complete as the Internet Archive. Nearly all the books I’ve purchased in the last decade were ones I saw on the Internet Archive first.

Samantha F., Providence, RI, USA: Honestly? Without these books, my job becomes that much harder. Publishers aren’t going to put out a new run of, say, a 40-year-old book on specific aspects of animation history, because it’s not profitable. So, to remove them limits the number of folks like me, who are trying to tell a cohesive and factual story, who can actually work to do so as these materials get rarer and more expensive.

Kerry L., Boston, MA, USA: I had used copies of books a few months back when doing research for my master’s thesis—when I came back to them in April and May, I was surprised to find many of my more crucial secondary sources were gone. These books specifically are not as prevalent in public libraries, being older and region-specific. I was fortunate that I had taken detailed notes and quotes, but I was unable to check my references for books that were physically located miles and miles away from me.

Nicolas T., Paris, France: This gray zone of books still under copyright but that have disappeared from bookstores and libraries can be so useful… and the DRM on digital copies was very clever and fair.

Lola, Poland: On a personal level, this has severely limited the potential for both me and my partner to read books, we don’t have the money or ability to purchase actual books or E books and while there is a library near by, they usually don’t have the books we are looking for, it has in turn likely limited us from reading so many books.

John P., Menlo Park, CA, USA: In 2016 a fire in my home office left my personal library (about 700 books) smoke damaged, but still readable. Rather than let all these books go to waste, I donated them to the Internet Archive, so books in my collection they hadn’t already scanned would be available to the rest of the world. I had hoped I would be able to refer to the collection there. Unfortunately, many of these books are no longer available due to the lawsuit restrictions.

Andrew M., Easton, CT, USA: Prior to the removal of books on the IA I was able to access works on niche topics like La Terra in Piazza (1984) to review and promote reading about all sorts of interesting things to a wider audience. Since the removal, I’ve already struggled to finance a project translating a book on the causes of the fall of Rome, which would not have happened if I’d had access to materials that had been on IA at an earlier date.

Stephano L., Peru: The links I used for citations in university works are now dead, so I will have to correct that in many papers I wrote.


Editorial note: Statements have been edited for clarity.

Internet Archive and the Wayback Machine under DDoS cyber-attack

The Internet Archive, the nonprofit research library that’s home to millions of historical documents, preserved websites, and media content, is currently in its third day of warding off an intermittent DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) cyber-attack. According to library staff, the collections are safe, though service remains inconsistent. Access to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine – which preserves the history of more than 866 billion web pages – has also been impacted.

Since the attacks began on Sunday, the DDoS intrusion has been launching tens of thousands of fake information requests per second. The source of the attack is unknown.

 “Thankfully the collections are safe, but we are sorry that the denial-of-service attack has knocked us offline intermittently during these last three days,” explained Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive. “With the support from others and the hard work of staff we are hardening our defenses to provide more reliable access to our library. What is new is this attack has been sustained, impactful, targeted, adaptive, and importantly, mean.”

Cyber-attacks are increasingly frequent against libraries and other knowledge institutions, with the British Library, the Solano County Public Library (California), the Berlin Natural History Museum, and Ontario’s London Public Library all being recent victims.

In addition to a wave of recent cyber-attacks, the Internet Archive is also being sued by the US book publishing and US recording industries associations, which are claiming copyright infringement and demanding combined damages of hundreds of millions of  dollars and diminished services from all libraries. 

“If our patrons around the globe think this latest situation is upsetting, then they should be very worried about what the publishing and recording industries have in mind,” added Kahle. “I think they are trying to destroy this library entirely and hobble all libraries everywhere. But just as we’re resisting the DDoS attack, we appreciate all the support in pushing back on this unjust litigation against our library and others.”

Book Talk: Attack from Within by Barbara McQuade

Join us for a VIRTUAL book talk with legal scholar BARBARA McQUADE on her New York Times bestseller, ATTACK FROM WITHIN, about disinformation’s impact on democracy. NYU professor and author CHARLTON McILWAIN will facilitate our discussion.

REGISTER NOW

“A comprehensive guide to the dynamics of disinformation and a necessary call to the ethical commitment to truth that all democracies require.”

Timothy Snyder, author of the New York Times bestseller On Tyranny

American society is more polarized than ever before. We are strategically being pushed apart by disinformation—the deliberate spreading of lies disguised as truth—and it comes at us from all sides: opportunists on the far right, Russian misinformed social media influencers, among others. It’s endangering our democracy and causing havoc in our electoral system, schools, hospitals, workplaces, and in our Capitol. Advances in technology including rapid developments in artificial intelligence threaten to make the problems even worse by amplifying false claims and manufacturing credibility.

In Attack from Within, legal scholar and analyst Barbara McQuade, shows us how to identify the ways disinformation is seeping into all facets of our society and how we can fight against it. The book includes:

  • The authoritarian playbook: a brief history of disinformation from Mussolini and Hitler to Bolsonaro and Trump, chronicles the ways in which authoritarians have used disinformation to seize and retain power.
  • Disinformation tactics—like demonizing the other, seducing with nostalgia, silencing critics, muzzling the media, condemning the courts; stoking violence—and why they work.
  • An explanation of why America is particularly vulnerable to disinformation and how it exploits our First Amendment Freedoms, sparks threats and violence, and destabilizes social structures.
  • Real, accessible solutions for countering disinformation and maintaining the rule of law such as making domestic terrorism a federal crime, increasing media literacy in schools, criminalizing doxxing, and much more.

Disinformation is designed to evoke a strong emotional response to push us toward more extreme views, unable to find common ground with others. The false claims that led to the breathtaking attack on our Capitol in 2021 may have been only a dress rehearsal. Attack from Within shows us how to prevent it from happening again, thus preserving our country’s hard-won democracy.

ABOUT OUR SPEAKERS

BARBARA McQUADE is a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, where she teaches criminal law and national security law. She is also a legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. From 2010 to 2017, McQuade served as the U.S Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. She was appointed by President Barack Obama, and was the first woman to serve in her position. McQuade also served as vice chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee and co-chaired its Terrorism and National Security Subcommittee.

Before her appointment as U.S. Attorney, McQuade served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Detroit for 12 years, including service as Deputy Chief of the National Security Unit. In that role, she prosecuted cases involving terrorism financing, foreign agents, threats, and export violations. McQuade serves on a number of non-profit boards, and served on the Biden-Harris Transition Team in 2020-2021. She has been recognized by The Detroit News with the Michiganian of the Year Award, the Detroit Free Press with the Neal Shine Award for Exemplary Regional Leadership, Crain’s Detroit Business as a Newsmaker of the Year and one of Detroit’s Most Influential Women, and the Detroit Branch NAACP and Arab American Civil Rights League with their Tribute to Justice Award. McQuade is a graduate of the University of Michigan and its law school. She and her husband live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and have four children.s an assistant professor of English at Emory University with a courtesy appointment in quantitative theory and methods. He is the author of American Literature and the Long Downturn: Neoliberal Apocalypse (2020). His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Review of BooksThe RumpusDissent, and other publications.

CHARLTON McILWAIN
Author of the recent book, Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, From the Afronet to Black Lives Matter, Dr. Charlton McIlwain is Vice Provost for Faculty Development, Pathways & Public Interest Technology at New York University, where he is also Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU Steinhardt. He works at the intersections of computing technology, race, inequality, and racial justice activism. He has served as an expert witness in landmark U.S. Federal Court cases on reverse redlining/racial targeting in mortgage lending and recently testified before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services about the impacts of automation and artificial intelligence on the financial services sector. He is the author of the recent PolicyLink report Algorithmic Discrimination: A Framework and Approach to Auditing & Measuring the Impact of Race-Targeted Digital Advertising. He writes regularly for outlets such as The Guardian, Slate’s Future Tense, MIT Technology Review and other outlets about the intersection of race and technology. McIlwain is the founder of the Center for Critical Race & Digital Studies, and is Board President at Data & Society Research Institute. He leads NYU’s Alliance for Public Interest Technology, is NYU’s Designee to the Public Interest Technology University Network, and serves on the executive committee as co-chair of the ethics panel for the International Panel on the Information Environment.

Book Talk: Attack from Within by Barbara McQuade
Thursday, June 6 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual event!

Internet Archive Stands Firm on Library Digital Rights in Final Brief of Hachette v. Internet Archive Lawsuit

Today, the Internet Archive has taken a decisive final step in our ongoing battle for libraries’ digital rights by submitting the final appellate reply brief [PDF] in Hachette v. Internet Archive, the publishers’ lawsuit against our library. This move reaffirms Internet Archive’s unwavering commitment to fulfilling our mission of providing universal access to all knowledge, even in the face of steep legal challenges.

READ THE FINAL APPELLATE REPLY BRIEF

Statement from Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive:
“Resolving this should be easy—just sell ebooks to libraries so we can own, preserve and lend them to one person at a time. This is a battle for the soul of libraries in the digital age.”

This process has taken nearly four years to work through the legal system, and in that time we’ve often fielded the question, “Why should I care about this lawsuit?” By restricting libraries’ ability to lend the books they own digitally, the publishers’ license-only business model and litigation strategies perpetuate inequality in access to knowledge.

Throughout this legal battle, Internet Archive has remained steadfast in our mission to defend the core values of libraries—preservation, access, and education. This fight is not just about protecting the Internet Archive’s digital lending program; it’s about standing up for the digital rights of all libraries and ensuring that future generations have equal access to the wealth of knowledge contained within them.

Happy National Library Week 2024!

At the Internet Archive, we’re celebrating the power of libraries to transform lives and communities during this year’s National Library Week (April 7-13, 2024). From preserving the past to shaping the future, libraries are vital hubs of knowledge, connection, and inspiration.

To mark this special week, we’re shining a spotlight on our incredible admin team. They work tirelessly behind the scenes, ensuring our events and virtual spaces are welcoming to all members of our global community.

Join us in thanking them for their dedication and hard work! Watch the video to meet the faces behind the scenes and learn more about how we strive to make knowledge accessible to everyone, everywhere.

Check out more about National Library Week here: https://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/natlibraryweek

Book Talk: Big Fiction

“Sinykin’s Big Fiction is a book of major ambition and many satisfactions. Come for the comprehensive reframing of a key phase in U.S. literary history, stay for the parade of interesting people, the fascinating backstories of bestsellers, the electrically entertaining prose. The story of literary publishing in the postwar period has never been told with such verve.” – Mark McGurl, author of Everything and Less: The Novel in the Age of Amazon

Book Talk: Big Fiction
Thursday, May 9 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual event!

In the late 1950s, Random House editor Jason Epstein would talk jazz with Ralph Ellison or chat with Andy Warhol while pouring drinks in his office. By the 1970s, editors were poring over profit-and-loss statements. The electronics company RCA bought Random House in 1965, and then other large corporations purchased other formerly independent publishers. As multinational conglomerates consolidated the industry, the business of literature—and literature itself—transformed.

Dan Sinykin explores how changes in the publishing industry have affected fiction, literary form, and what it means to be an author. Giving an inside look at the industry’s daily routines, personal dramas, and institutional crises, he reveals how conglomeration has shaped what kinds of books and writers are published. Sinykin examines four different sectors of the publishing industry: mass-market books by brand-name authors like Danielle Steel; trade publishers that encouraged genre elements in literary fiction; nonprofits such as Graywolf that aspired to protect literature from market pressures; and the distinctive niche of employee-owned W. W. Norton. He emphasizes how women and people of color navigated shifts in publishing, arguing that writers such as Toni Morrison allegorized their experiences in their fiction.

Big Fiction features dazzling readings of a vast range of novelists—including E. L. Doctorow, Judith Krantz, Renata Adler, Stephen King, Joan Didion, Cormac McCarthy, Chuck Palahniuk, Patrick O’Brian, and Walter Mosley—as well as vivid portraits of industry figures. Written in gripping and lively prose, this deeply original book recasts the past six decades of American fiction.

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ABOUT OUR SPEAKERS

DAN SINYKIN is an assistant professor of English at Emory University with a courtesy appointment in quantitative theory and methods. He is the author of American Literature and the Long Downturn: Neoliberal Apocalypse (2020). His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Review of BooksThe RumpusDissent, and other publications.

TED UNDERWOOD is a professor in the School of Information Sciences and also holds an appointment with the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. After writing two books that describe eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature using familiar critical methods, he turned to new opportunities created by large digital libraries, using machine learning to explore patterns of literary change that become visible across centuries and thousands of books. His most recent project moves in the opposite direction, using theories of historical interpretation to guide the development of large language models.

He has authored three books about literary history, Distant Horizons (The University of Chicago Press Books, 2019), Why Literary Periods Mattered: Historical Contrast and the Prestige of English Studies (Stanford University Press, 2013), and The Work of the Sun: Literature, Science and Political Economy 1760-1860 (New York: Palgrave, 2005).

Book Talk: Big Fiction
Thursday, May 9 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual event!

Reliving the Past & Redesigning the Present with Animated GIFs

As an editorial strategist and tech journalist, JD Shadel spends a lot of time thinking about how the content on the internet continues to rapidly evolve. One telling example they’ve followed closely is the evolution of GIFs. Two decades ago, the web was filled with millions of jittery, pixelated, handmade GIFs wherever you looked. And for many of us, there’s a nostalgia for the early days of the web when things felt a bit wilder and untamed. 

That nostalgia for the version of the internet they grew up with is what first sparked Shadel’s interest in collecting old-school GIFs. During the first months of pandemic lockdowns in 2020, Shadel started spending a lot of their extra spare time diving deep into the Internet Archive’s GifCities collection. Shadel’s personal fascination began with under construction GIFs, a rich niche in the GifCities collection full of animated construction workers and tools. Then came seeking out GIFs of Furbies, Tamagotchi, and other cultural touchstones that the 33-year-old came of age with online. Over the next few years, downloading and organizing GIFs became a hobby for Shadel.

Recently, it came time to update Shadel’s professional website. “It’s one of those evergreen chores it’s easy to obsess over as a freelancer, when your website is your calling card for new work,” said Shadel, who found themself digging back through the hundreds of GIFs they’ve curated thanks to the Internet Archive. 

Early cyberspace-themed GIFs became the theme for their new and somewhat unconventional portfolio, which features more than two dozen images sourced entirely from GifCities. Users can, for example, click on a spinning globe for an introduction or a British Furby to learn about Shadel’s background as an American now based in London—including editorial work for outlets such as Vice, The Washington Post, and Conde Nast Traveler and consulting for clients including Airbnb and Adidas.

“I’m so happy GifCities exists to capture that specific snapshot of the internet,” Shadel said. “It really relates, metaphorically, to a lot of my work where the real world and the internet blur, where the digital and the physical intersect.”

In addition to GifCities, the Wayback Machine has also been useful to Shadel. Professionally, it is a resource when reporting and fact checking stories. Personally, they recently found material from a band they played in years ago.

“The Internet Archive just touches my digital life in so many different ways,” Shadel said. “As a journalist, it’s a fact-checking tool. Having the ephemeral internet preserved for future researchers, writers, reporters and editors is a huge service to democracy. And it’s also just fun.”

On the website with its Space Jam-like navigation, Shadel wanted to reference the history of the internet — and maybe even inspire visitors to think more actively about their own role in charting the future. “I think we can reclaim our digital lives and rekindle the notion of ourselves as ‘netizens’—citizens of the internet and not just passive participants,” Shadel said.

“That’s why the work of the Internet Archive is so important,” they continued. “Despite the fact that we have access to more information than ever before, it’s really easy to forget digital histories and the lessons that we can learn from that.”

Shadel’s writing touches on a range of intersecting topics—such as tech, travel and queerness—but the one thing they hope everyone takes away from their work is the idea that we’re all netizens with a role to play in shaping what we want these shared public spaces to be. 

“If we all have some shared sense of ownership of the internet, which is so involved in our lives, I believe we have a greater chance to make it better.” Sometimes, that can start in simple ways—in this case, building a DIY website with a bunch of old GIFs reminded one tech journalist in London that there are lessons we can take from the early internet. “We all have a part to play in making the internet a better place.” And at the least, they hope you enjoy the GIFs they’ve selected.

Book Talk: Unlocking the Digital Age

Join us for a book talk with ANDREA I. COPLAND & KATHLEEN DeLAURENTI about UNLOCKING THE DIGITAL AGE, a crucial resource for early career musicians navigating the complexities of the digital era.

View the Recording

“[Musicians,] Use this book as a tool to enhance your understanding, protect your creations, and confidently step into the world of digital music. Embrace the journey with the same fervor you bring to your music and let this guide be a catalyst in shaping a fulfilling and sustainable musical career.”
– Dean Fred Bronstein, THE PEABODY INSTITUTE OF THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

Based on coursework developed at the Peabody Conservatory, Unlocking the Digital Age: The Musician’s Guide to Research, Copyright, and Publishing by Andrea I. Copland and Kathleen DeLaurenti [READ NOW] serves as a crucial resource for early career musicians navigating the complexities of the digital era. This guide bridges the gap between creative practice and scholarly research, empowering musicians to confidently share and protect their work as they expand their performing lives beyond the concert stage as citizen artists. It offers a plain language resource that helps early career musicians see where creative practice and creative research intersect and how to traverse information systems to share their work. As professional musicians and researchers, the authors’ experiences on stage and in academia makes this guide an indispensable tool for musicians aiming to thrive in the digital landscape.

Copland and DeLaurenti will be in conversation with musician and educator, Kyoko Kitamura. Music librarian Matthew Vest will facilitate our discussion.

Unlocking the Digital Age: The Musician’s Guide to Research, Copyright, and Publishing is available to read & download.

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About our speakers

ANDREA I. COPLAND is an oboist, music historian, and librarian based in Baltimore, MD. Andrea has dual master’s of music degrees in oboe performance and music history from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and is currently Research Coordinator at the Répertoire International de la Presse Musicale (RIPM) database. She is also a teaching artist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids program and writes a public musicology blog, Outward Sound, on substack.

KATHLEEN DeLAURENTI is the Director of the Arthur Friedheim Library at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University where she also teaches Foundations of Music Research in the graduate program. Previously, she served as scholarly communication librarian at the College of William and Mary where she participated in establishing state-wide open educational resources (OER) initiatives. She is co-chair of the Music Library Association (MLA) Legislation Committee as well as a member of the Copyright Education sub-committee of the American Library Association (ALA) and is past winner of the ALA Robert Oakley Memorial Scholarship for copyright research. DeLaurenti is passionate about copyright education, especially for musicians. She is active in communities of practice working on music copyright education, sustainable economic models for artists and musicians, and policy for a balanced copyright system. DeLaurenti served as the inaugural Open Access Editor of MLA and continues to serve on the MLA Open Access Editorial Board. She holds an MLIS from the University of Washington and a BFA in vocal performance from Carnegie Mellon University.

KYOKO KITAMURA is a Brookyn-based vocal improviser, bandleader, composer and educator, currently co-leading the quartet Geometry (with cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, guitarist Joe Morris and cellist Tomeka Reid) and the trio Siren Xypher (with violist Melanie Dyer and pianist Mara Rosenbloom). A long-time collaborator of legendary composer Anthony Braxton, Kitamura appears on many of his releases and is the creator of the acclaimed 2023 documentary Introduction to Syntactical Ghost Trance Music which DownBeat Magazine calls “an invaluable resource for Braxton-philes.” Active in interdisciplinary performances, Kitamura recently provided vocals for, and appeared in, artist Matthew Barney’s 2023 five-channel installation Secondary.

MATTHEW VEST is the Music Inquiry and Research Librarian at UCLA. His research interests include change leadership in higher education, digital projects and publishing for music and the humanities, and composers working at the margins of the second Viennese School. He has also worked in the music libraries at the University of Virginia, Davidson College, and Indiana University and is the Open Access Editor for the Music Library Association.

Book Talk: UNLOCKING THE DIGITAL AGE
April 3 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
VIRTUAL
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LOST LANDSCAPES OF SAN FRANCISCO: The City and Bay in Motion

LOST LANDSCAPES OF SAN FRANCISCO: The City and Bay in Motion
March 18 @ 6:30pm – 9pm
Internet Archive, 300 Funston Avenue, San Francisco
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This 18th edition of LOST LANDSCAPES immerses viewers in the dynamic tapestry of mobility and communication across the Bay Area. Delving into the rich archival footage of San Francisco and its environs, the film captures the essence of daily life, work, and celebration, while revisiting both familiar and obscure historical moments.

This unique film event is taking place at the Internet Archive where you can experience rare and unseen footage from the Prelinger Archives. The film features footage drawn from a vast repository of over 3,000 newly scanned archival films, including home movies, government productions, industrial reels, and unexpected gems.

By attending, you’ll directly contribute to supporting the Internet Archive. Rick Prelinger will be presenting as per usual. Don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of truly special evening!

Doors open at 6:30 pm. Film starts at 7:30 PM. Register now!

No one will be turned away due to lack of funds!

LOST LANDSCAPES OF SAN FRANCISCO: The City and Bay in Motion
March 18 @ 6:30pm – 9pm
Internet Archive, 300 Funston Avenue, San Francisco
Buy Tickets