Libraries have historically been trusted hubs to equalize access to credible information, a crucial role that they should continue to fill in the digital age. However, as more information is born-digital, digitized, or digital-first, libraries must build new policy, legal and public understandings about how advances in technology impact our preservation, community, and collection development practices.
This panel will bring together legal scholars Ariel Katz (University of Toronto) and Argyri Panezi (IE University Madrid/Stanford University) to discuss their work on library digital exhaustion and public service roles for digital libraries. They will be joined by Lisa Radha Weaver, Director of Collections and Program Development at Hamilton Public Library, who will discuss how library services have been transformed by digital delivery and innovation and Kyle Courtney of Library Futures/Harvard University, a lawyer/librarian who wrote the influential Statement on Controlled Digital Lending, signed by over 50 institutions. The panel will be moderated by Lila Bailey of Internet Archive.
Panezi, Argyri, A Public Service Role For Digital Libraries: The Unequal Battle Against (Online) Misinformation Through Copyright Law Reform And The Emergency Electronic Access To Library Material (March 26, 2021). Forthcoming, 31 CORNELL J.L. & PUB. POL’Y _ _ (2021), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3813320
Whenever I’ve had a book published I have celebrated every sale. But the biggest cause for celebration – the sale that always made me most proud – was when a library acquired a copy or two. Individuals may purchase a book, shelve it or pass it along to a friend, and thereafter it disappears. Libraries are forever.
This is the belief that underscores my enthusiasm for the Internet Archive. While the Atlanta Public Library may one day cull my book to make room for someone else’s, those words I labored over and so treasure, whether anyone else ever treasures them or not, are safe with the Internet Archive. And may it thrive and prosper.
This is all a very long way from my literary beginnings on a Royal portable typewriter. I wrote for newspapers and magazines – the Richmond Times-Dispatch, USA Today, National Real Estate Investor to cite just a few of the wildly different multiple dozens – from the early 1950s into the technologically bewildering 2020s. Eventually I added an MFA in short fiction to my BA in Art and veered into short stories, with a few tiny publication successes, including Dying unafraid (1999) and Perilous Times: An inside look at abortion before – and after – Roe v Wade (2013). When the internet came along, I tiptoed in via a blog for news aggregate site True/Slant.com which eventually morphed into today’s franjohns.net. With a little luck my short story collection, Marshallville Stories, will be published in 2022; the Internet Archive will get one of the first copies.
I’ve been following the conflict between U.S. publishers and the Internet Archive with some degree of horror and dismay. Publishers, I realize, are in business to make money and thereby stay in business. Do they not want people, as many people as possible, to read the books they publish? After the first flurry of sales (perhaps excluding the blockbuster books that will make big bucks for authors and publishers alike, may they also thrive and prosper) does it not follow that publishers would want their books to enjoy long and successful lives? That, at least, is the hope I believe most authors harbor. I can’t claim to speak for other authors, but this I know is personally true: I write for the joy of writing, and in the hope of being read. I’d be surprised if there were many writers out there who don’t feel the same.
So let’s hear it for libraries. And for the one that’s unique among all others, the Internet Archive.
Fran Moreland Johns has been writing (for newspapers, magazines, online sites) since the 1950s, and blogging since she was introduced to the idea via a paid blog for news aggregate site True/Slant in 2009. Her roots are in small town Virginia and her heart is in hometown San Francisco. She currently blogs on Medium.com and www.franjohns.net. You can read Dying unafraid (1999) online through the Internet Archive’s lending library.
In an effort to help more people understand how Controlled Digital Lending works, the Internet Archive is helping coordinate two sessions in July. Both sessions are free, virtual, and open to the public.
Empowering Libraries Through Controlled Digital Lending – July 13
The Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program empowers libraries to lend digital books to patrons using Controlled Digital Lending. Attendees will learn how CDL works, the benefits of the Open Libraries program, and the impact that the program is having for partner libraries and the communities they serve.
Implementation & Integration: CDL for All Libraries – July 14
For the second event in a summer series about the innovative library practice of Controlled Digital Lending, we’ll hear from libraries, consortia, and librarians who are exploring CDL implementations at their institutions and communities with hands on learning around potential and existing solutions. Learn about building institutional CDL policies, user experience for patrons and staff, technological platforms, and how you can get involved with the CDL community. Bring your questions, ideas, and be prepared to dig in!
Co-hosted by Library Futures, Internet Archive, Project Reshare, Open Library Foundation, and CDL Implementers
Have questions about Controlled Digital Lending? Join us for a webinar on June 10!
Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) is a widely used library practice that supports digital lending for libraries of all sizes. Even though CDL is used at hundreds of libraries around the world, questions remain about this important innovation in digital library lending. In this session, we’ll be tackling the most commonly asked questions surrounding CDL and answering some of yours. Bring your thoughts and ideas – it’s the summer of CDL.
Note: The webinar will be recorded. Go ahead and register even if you can’t join the synchronous session. All registrants will receive an email after the event with a link to the recording, which will also be shared at archive.org and across social media.
The Boston Library Consortium (BLC) has welcomed the Internet Archive as its newest affiliate member – joining 19 other libraries in the BLC’s network working on innovative solutions that enrich the creation, dissemination and preservation of knowledge.
The Internet Archive, the non-profit library which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, has large physical, born-digital and digitized collections serving a global user base. The Internet Archive’s history with the BLC goes back to the formation of the Open Content Alliance, through which the member libraries committed $845,000 to begin digitizing out-of-copyright books from their collections in 2007.
As part of the affiliate membership, the Internet Archive will participate in many of the BLC’s programs, including the consortium’s membership communities and professional development initiatives. The BLC will also pilot an expansion of its resource sharing program, allowing faculty, students, and scholars across the membership to tap into the Internet Archive’s vast digital collection through inter-library lending of non-returnables.
“Resource sharing is core to the mission and purpose of the Boston Library Consortium,” said Anne Langley, president of the BLC and dean of the UConn Library. “We are enthusiastic about leveraging our shared expertise to mobilize the digital collections that the Internet Archive stewards.”
For Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive, this membership builds on a longstanding partnership with the BLC. “We love the BLC and its libraries,” said Kahle. “We’ve been working with the BLC and its member libraries as we have digitized our collections for more than ten years. Being welcomed into the consortium will enable further and closer collaboration between this forward-looking collective of libraries.”
Charlie Barlow, executive director of the BLC, who worked to bring the Internet Archive into the consortium, said the BLC recognizes the value of extending its reach. “The BLC is thinking about new mechanisms upon which we can share knowledge,” said Barlow. “The events of the past year only reinforced our belief that the more we can draw on digital resources, the more effectively we can serve our membership and the scholarly community.”
About the Boston Library Consortium
Founded in 1970, the BLC is an academic library consortium serving public and private universities, liberal arts colleges, state and special research libraries in New England. The BLC members collaborate to deliver innovative and cost-effective sharing of print and digital content, professional development initiatives, and projects across a wide range of library practice areas.
About the Internet Archive
The Internet Archive is one of the largest libraries in the world and home of the Wayback Machine, a repository of 475 billion web pages. Founded in 1996 by Internet Hall of Fame member Brewster Kahle, the Internet Archive now serves more than 1.5 million patrons each day, providing access to 70+ petabytes of data—books, web pages, music, television and software—and working with more than 800 library and university partners to create a digital library, accessible to all.
The Internet Archive has been partnering with libraries to digitize their collections for more than 15 years. Following a recent viral video featuring our book digitization efforts, and increased demands for e-resources, we’ve had renewed interest in our book scanning partnerships, with libraries wondering how we might be able to help them reach their patrons through digitization. Join scanning center managers Andrea Mills and Elizabeth MacLeod for a virtual event to learn about the ways in which the Internet Archive can help turn your print collections digital, and the impacts that these digital collections are having on remote learners.
Registration for the virtual event is free and open to the public. The live session is being offered twice to accommodate schedules and flexibility; if you are interested in joining, you only need to register for one session: March 24 @ 10am ET / 2pm GMT March 25 @ 1pm ET / 5pm GMT
Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) is growing in popularity, as is the community of practice around the library lending model. Next week, join Chris Freeland, director of Open Libraries at the Internet Archive, for a one-hour session covering new developments in CDL. Attendees will learn how libraries are using CDL, the emerging community around CDL, and the impacts of the library practice.
Register now Registration for the virtual event is free and open to the public. The live session is being offered twice for your scheduling flexibility; if you’d like to join, you only need to register for one session:
Sometimes they arrive tied up in string because their binding is broken. Others are in envelopes to protect the brittle pages from further damage.
Aging books are sent from libraries to the Internet Archive for preservation. Thanks to the careful work of the nearly 70 people who scan at digitization centers in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, the books get a second life with a new audience.
Scanners sometimes call these “Last Chance Books” and they take pride in restoring them. As they turn the pages one at time to be photographed and digitized, they develop a daily cadence—but it must be adjusted with fragile materials.
“We do our best with the flaking or cracking pages,” said Andrea Mills, digitization program manager for the Internet Archive stationed in Toronto, Canada. “You have to be really cautious that the flake doesn’t fall off and cover a word. It’s almost like a puzzle.”
Some books that land at the Internet Archive digitization centers date back to the 1700s. They are fiction and nonfiction, journals and pamphlets covering a range of topics. And, it can be surprising to learn what reviving the material means to patrons.
“We chuckled when we digitized a book on sea captains. We thought – who will care? And then a year later, it had hundreds of views,” said Elizabeth MacLeod, senior manager of satellite digitization services who manages remote operations out of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Digitization helps preserve materials that are no longer in circulation at their holding library because they are falling apart. It also gives new exposure to books that are out of print that may otherwise be forgotten.
Both Mills and MacLeod began working for the Internet Archive more than 10 years ago as book scanners – also known as Scribe operators. Mills has an arts degree in jewelry design and teaching; MacLeod studied biology. They were both drawn to the mission of the Internet Archive and share a passion of connecting people with resources.
Over the years, Mills and MacLeod have worked closely with librarians and archivists around the world to digitize their collections, learning more with each project. They now manage digitization and support sites with training and best practices, many embedded in libraries, in 10 countries and upwards of 30 locations. Digitizing is a somewhat solitary task and some people “get in the zone” while scanning; others are very chatty or listen to music, Mills said.
Many employees have worked together for nearly a decade and there is a friendly, collaborative vibe at the centers. “We have all sorts of people—artists, printers and photographers. They are people who are meticulous and love books,” Mills said. A recent viral video shared on the Internet Archive’s Twitter account features Scribe operator Eliza Zhang, who has worked at the Archive for more than ten years. Book conservators from larger institutional partners also offer additional training for Internet Archive operators on best practices for handling their unique collections.
MacLeod says the scanners are all committed to providing a service to readers and it’s satisfying to help people with disabilities connect with books, “It’s energizing to be part of an organization that is thinking outside the box,” she said. “I want people to be able to have more access to whatever they are trying to find.”
Added Mills: “I’m an information junky. I love the search and the hunt and the finding the answer. The power of the internet and digitization is that you can find that answer faster. It just sort of opens up the possibilities of what you can do.”
The Internet Archive has reached a new milestone: 2 million. That’s how many modern books are now in its lending collection—available free to the public to borrow at any time, even from home.
“We are going strong,” said Chris Freeland, a librarian at the Internet Archive and director of the Open Libraries program. “We are making books available that people need access to online, and our patrons are really invested. We are doing a library’s work in the digital era.”
The lending collection is an encyclopedic mix of purchased books, ebooks, and donations from individuals, organizations, and institutions. It has been curated by Freeland and other librarians at the Internet Archive according to a prioritized wish list that has guided collection development. The collection has been purpose-built to reach a wide base of both public and academic library patrons, and to contain books that people want to read and access online—titles that are widely held by libraries, cited in Wikipedia and frequently assigned on syllabi and course reading lists.
“The Internet Archive is trying to achieve a collection reflective of great research and public libraries like the Boston Public Library,” said Brewster Kahle, digital librarian and founder of the Internet Archive, who began building the diverse library more than 20 years ago.
“Libraries from around the world have been contributing books so that we can make sure the digital generation has access to the best knowledge ever written,” Kahle said. “These wide ranging collections include books curated by educators, librarians and individuals, that they see are critical to educating an informed populace at a time of massive disinformation and misinformation.”
Everyday about 3,500 books are digitized in one of 18 digitization centers operated by the Archive worldwide. While there’s no exact way of identifying a singular 2 millionth book, the Internet Archive has chosen a representative title that helped push past the benchmark to highlight why its collection is so useful to readers and researchers online.
On December 31, The dictionary of costume by R. Turner Wilcox was scanned and added to the Archive, putting the collection over the 2 million mark. The book was first published in 1969 and reprinted throughout the 1990s, but is now no longer in print or widely held by libraries. This particular book was donated to Better World Books via a book bank just outside of London in August 2020, then made its way to the Internet Archive for preservation and digitization.
As expected from the title, the book is a dictionary of terms associated with costumes, textiles and fashion, and was compiled by an expert, Wilcox, the fashion editor of Women’s Wear Daily from 1910 to 1915. Given its authoritative content, the book made it onto the Archive’s wish list because it is frequently cited in Wikipedia, including on pages like Petticoat and Gown.
Now that the book has been digitized, Wikipedia editors can update citations to the book and include a direct link to the cited page. For example, users reading the Petticoat page can see that page 267 of the book has been used to substantiate the claim that both men & women wore a longer underskirt called a “petticote” in the fourteenth century. Clicking on that reference will take users directly to page 267 in The dictionary of costume where they can read the dictionary entry for petticoat and verify that information for themselves.
An additional reason why this work is important is that there is no commercial ebook available for The dictionary of costume. This book is one of the millions of titles that reached the end of its publishing lifecycle in the 20th century, so there is no electronic version available for purchase. That means that the only way of accessing this book online and verifying these citations in Wikipedia—doing the kind of research that students of all ages perform in our connected world—is through a scanned copy, such as the one now available at the Internet Archive.
Donations play an important role
Increasingly, the Archive is preserving many books that would otherwise be lost to history or the trash bin.
In recent years, the Internet Archive has received donations of entire library collections. Marygrove College gave more than 70,000 books and nearly 3,000 journal volumes for digitization and preservation in 2019 after the small liberal arts college in Detroit closed. The well-curated collection, known for its social justice, education and humanities holdings, is now available online at https://archive.org/details/marygrovecollege.
Just like The dictionary of costume, many of the books supplied for digitization come to the Archive from Better World Books. In its partnership over the past 10 years, the online book seller has donated millions of books to be digitized and preserved by the Archive. Better World Books acquires books from thousands of libraries, book suppliers, and through a network of book donation drop boxes (known as “book banks” in the UK), and if a title is not suitable for resale and it’s on the Archive’s wish list, the book is set aside for donation.
“We view our role as helping maximize the life cycle and value of each and every single book that a library client, book supplier or donor entrusts to us,” said Dustin Holland, president and chief executive officer of Better World Books. “We make every effort to make books available to readers and keep books in the reading cycle and out of the recycle stream. Our partnership with the Internet Archive makes all this possible.”
The Archive provides another channel for customers to find materials, Holland added.
“We view archive.org as a way of discovering and accessing books,” said Holland. “Once a book is discoverable, the more interest you are going to create in that book and the greater the chance it will end up in a reader’s hands as a new or gently used book.”
Having books freely available for borrowing online serves people with a variety of needs including those with limited access to libraries because of disabilities, transportation issues, people in rural areas, and those who live in under-resourced parts of the world.
Sean, an author in Oregon said he goes through older magazines for design ideas, especially from cultures that he wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise: “It gives me a wider understanding of my small place in the global historical context.” One parent from San Francisco said she uses the lending library to learn skills like hand drawing to draw characters and landscapes to interact deeper with her child.
The need for information is more urgent than ever.
“We are all homeschoolers now. This pandemic has driven home how important it is to have online access to quality information,” Kahle said. “It’s gratifying to hear from teachers and parents that are now given the tools to work with their children during this difficult time.”
Kahle’s vision is to have every reference in Wikipedia be linked to a book and for every student writing a high school report to have access to the best published research on their subject. He wants the next generation to become authors of the books that should be in the library and the most informed electorate possible.
Adds Kahle: “Thank you to all who have made this possible – all the funders, all the donors, the thousands who have sent books to be digitized. If we all work together, we can do another million this year.”