Category Archives: Announcements

As Calls to Ban Books Intensify, Digital Librarians Offer Perspective

Image credit: Roger Nomer | The Joplin Globe

From Texas to Virginia to Pennsylvania, there is a growing movement to challenge books in schools that some suggest are inappropriate for students. Concern goes beyond explicit content; it now includes opposition to LGBTQIA material, the history of racism, and material that may cause discomfort to readers.

While efforts to ban books are not new, the solutions to counter censorship are—thanks to technology that is used to create access for all. 

The Internet Archive’s Open Library (https://openlibrary.org) does not face the same local pressures that many school districts or school libraries do. At a time when students and teachers may be encountering limited access to content in their local community, the Internet Archive acquires and digitizes material for its online library, and lends a wide array of books for free to anyone, anytime.

For example, the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books in the past decade are available in a curated collection. Among the titles: The Glass Castle by Jennette Walls, banned for offensive language and sexually explicit content; The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, cited as being insensitive, anti-family and violent; and Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin, challenged for its LGBTQIA content and the perceived effects on young people who would read it. 

Books dealing with gay and trans rights have long been targeted in school libraries. There are more than 1,800 titles in Open Library’s LGBTQ Collection—sorted, searchable and available to borrow online for free. Many of the novels, memoirs and works of history are not otherwise accessible to people who live in rural areas or places where those materials are explicitly banned. 

Browse Open Library’s LGBTQ Collection, one of the many curated collections available through Open Library.

New Challenges, New Responses

The new efforts to ban books are taking a much broader view of limiting access. Across the country, some objectors say books like Beloved by Toni Morrison, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988, should not be discussed or available in schools. As these lists are made public, Open Library’s volunteer team of Open Librarians take action to ensure that these books remain accessible to all.

Recently, Open Library created a collection of books removed from circulation in the Goddard School District in Kansas. It includes The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and Fences by August Wilson, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1987. A small collection of banned books from Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley features Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitgerald.

View the collection of 850 books challenged in Texas.

Open Library’s lead community librarian, Lisa Seaberg, is curating a collection of 850 books that have recently been challenged in Texas. Among the books targeted are ones that mention human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, contain material that might make students feel uncomfortable or distressed because of their race or sex or convey that a student, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive. 

What’s become caught up in this “wide net,” said Seaberg, are books about health education, teen pregnancy, civics, philosophy, religion, anthropology, inventions, encyclopedias and, ironically, a novel about book censorship in a high school. Those who favor removing certain books see an opportunity and momentum, she said, but the difference in this moment is that libraries are able to provide access to titles regardless of where the reader is located. 

One reason books get banned is because political forces within an area become stronger than the populace, said Mek, who leads the Open Library team for the Internet Archive. “Open Library is trying to bridge these inequity gaps across geographies and social classes. We invite the populace to come together and participate in a digital sanctuary where our rich and diverse cultural heritage isn’t subject to censorship by the few with special interests.”

“[T]here’s a difference between sharing an opinion and robbing someone of the opportunity to form their own.”

Mek, Open Library team lead

At the most basic level, banning books is about restricting access to knowledge, said Lisa Petrides, chief executive officer and founder of the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME). 

“The impact of this on schools means that students are exposed to a limited set of world views, which is extremely detrimental to critical thinking, reflective analysis and discussion,” said Petrides. “Perhaps even more importantly as we are seeing today, this means that educators and librarians are increasingly put in difficult situations, having to face the threat of reprisal from administrators or school boards, who are themselves increasingly less willing to stand up for the First Amendment rights of their teachers and learners.”   

The Path Forward

Everyone’s perspectives should matter and be represented in the democratic process. A library must offer diverse materials so people can draw their own conclusions, said Mek.  He embraces the oft-cited quote from librarian Jo Godwin: “A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.”

“It’s important for informed members of society to share their opinions,” he says. “But there’s a difference between sharing an opinion and robbing someone of the opportunity to form their own. To change hearts and minds, write a compelling book—don’t take authors you disagree with off the shelves. The Open Library community is honoring these values by giving contested titles their spots back on the shelf.”

Seaberg says, hopefully, recent book challenges will ultimately fail and access to a range of books will be restored. “If students walk into a library and they have books that only present one side of an issue, or are only relatable to a certain group in a culture, it excludes a lot of people,” she says. “They might not even know this other content exists.”


You can browse a full list of Open Library’s curated collections here. To volunteer for Open Library and help curate collections, please visit https://openlibrary.org/volunteer#librarian.

The Corruption of Copyright: New Scholarship in Libraries, Technology, and the Law

UPDATED 11/18/21—Watch session recording now:

Join Library Futures, Internet Archive, and the Georgetown Intellectual Property and Information Policy (iPIP) Clinic for a panel on copyright, licensing, accessibility, and the law. We’ll be discussing new scholarship from legal experts Michelle Wu (retired Georgetown University Law Center) and Blake Reid (Clinical Professor at Colorado Law).

The Corruption of Copyright: New Scholarship in Libraries, Technology, & the Law
Monday, November 15
12pm PT / 3pm ET

Wu’s “The Corruption of Copyright and Returning to its Original Purposes” (Legal Reference Services Quarterly) looks at how some industries have redirected the benefits of copyright towards themselves through licensing and other activities, which impacts author remuneration and upsets the balance of the public interest. This paper focuses on the book, music, and entertainment industries, examines how copyright has been used to suppress the uses it was intended to foster, and explores ongoing and proposed avenues for course correction: https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/2410/

Reid’s “Copyright and Disability” (forthcoming in California Law Review) discusses how recent progress toward copyright limitations and exceptions continues an ableist tradition in the development of U.S. copyright policy: centering the interests of copyright holders, rather than those of readers, viewers, listeners, users, and authors with disabilities. Using case studies, Reid explores copyright’s ableist tradition to discuss how it subordinates the actual interests of people with disability. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3381201

The panel will be moderated by Amanda Levendowski, Associate Professor of Law at Georgetown Law.

Looking Back at the Million Book Project

Years ago, many people rejected the idea of reading a book on a screen. Fortunately, others had a vision for the potential of digitizing the world’s knowledge.

One of those pioneers was Carnegie Mellon Professor Raj Reddy. The Internet Archive recently hosted a virtual event to honor him and celebrate the 20th anniversary of his Million Book Project that included Reddy, Vint Cerf of Google, Moriel Schottlender of the Wikimedia Foundation, Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive, Mike Furlough of HaithiTrust, and Liz Ridolfo of the University of Toronto.

Since Reddy’s dream of providing universal access to all human knowledge—instantly to anyone, anywhere in the world—others have embraced the mission.  Advocates of mass digitization discussed the tremendous impact that open access to creative works online has had on society, the challenges ahead, and potential, if more books are unleashed.

“There are tens of millions of digitized books available on the internet now. Many of these are born digital. Many more are being converted from print copies,” said Mike Furlough, executive director at HathiTrust, which has a collection of 17.5 million digital books. “This is really a human accomplishment that represents decades, if not centuries, of intellectual labor, physical labor to steward and preserve these items.”

Reddy said he knew his vision two decades ago was just the beginning and there is a huge amount of room to improve the utility of digital works. “It’s time for us to put our heads together to find a way to create digital libraries and archives that are far more useful than what we have today,” he said.

Many agreed more must be done to expand efforts, build a sustainable infrastructure and raise awareness of the shifting role of libraries to provide digital materials.

“I think we should ask more questions: What aren’t we digitizing? What are the economic or political forces that are constraining our choices and what corrective measures can we take?”

Mike Furlough, executive director, HathiTrust

Internet Archive Founder Brewster Kahle said Reddy was right that bringing our full history online for the next generation is important, but it’s not been easy technically or institutionally.

“If we’ve ever wondered why you’d want digital books, the year 2020 told us why. The global pandemic hit and shut down school libraries, public libraries, and college libraries,” Kahle said. “We got calls from professors, teachers and homeschoolers, desperate to find some way in their Zoom classrooms to bring books to kids.”

The Internet Archive responded, explaining how libraries could extend access digitally to books that were in their physical collections. This helped make a big difference on the ground, and Kahle says policies are changing so libraries are confident in serving their digital learners. For instance, as libraries spend $12 billion a year on materials, Kahle said they should be able to purchase (not lease) e-books to fulfill their mission of service to users.

There was also a push among panelists for digitization to be more inclusive of works from all kinds of authors, recognizing what is being scanned is what’s already been obtained by libraries. “I think we should ask more questions: What aren’t we digitizing? What are the economic or political forces that are constraining our choices and what corrective measures can we take?” Furlough said.

The future interaction with knowledge involves the digitization of books and expanding the diversity of voices is critical, said Moriel Schottlender, principal system architect with the Wikimedia Foundation.

“Making resources available to anyone online is key and this is really what we’re striving for,” said Schottlender, noting Wikipedia’s mission is to be a beacon of factual information that is verifiable, neutral and transparent. “Our goal is that everyone in the world should be able to contribute to the sum of all knowledge. But not everyone has equal access to knowledge, to books, to journals, to libraries, to educational materials…We use digitization to increase equity.”

“Our goal is that everyone in the world should be able to contribute to the sum of all knowledge. But not everyone has equal access to knowledge…We use digitization to increase equity.”

Moriel Schottlender, principal system architect, Wikimedia Foundation

There is growing demand for all kinds of digital information, said Liz Ridolfo, special collections projects librarian at University of Toronto Libraries.. Donors want items digitized for a variety of reasons including to protect rare items, to reach a broader audience, and to free up physical space for other materials. Especially during the pandemic, Ridolfo said, it has been useful to have a curated collection of online teaching and reference materials.

Vint Cerf, vice president and internet evangelist at Google, said people are increasingly going online to get answers to questions—often turning to YouTube to view how-to videos. That demand for “just-in-time learning” is not a substitute for long-form content, he said, but it’s an interesting phenomenon that may draw people to the internet to learn more.

Looking ahead, Reddy said there is a need for big change to address the broken copyright law. His aspiration is that by 2031, there will be a frictionless, streamlined copyright regime, in which authors register for no fee, but can extend the copyright of a work indefinitely if they want by paying a prescribed fee. For users, he proposes access to copyright material for fair use in less than five minutes. They could pay a required fee, as prescribed by the data for a single copy use. If the copyright is not registered with the national digital library, then fines for copyright violations of unregistered copyright material should be nominal.

“Let’s take Raj’s vision here and make it come true,” Kahle said. “Who should argue against the streamline system where fair uses are easy. Where compensation is understood, where there’s registration and the actual copyrighted materials are in repositories that are long-term protected. Let’s just do this.”

24 Arts Organizations join the Collaborative ART Archive (CARTA)

Earlier this summer, the Internet Archive announced its partnership with the New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC) to form a collaborative, web-based art resources preservation and access initiative. We are now thrilled to announce that the initiative has kicked off with a diverse roster of 24 participating member institutions throughout the United States and Canada.

The Collaborative ART Archive (CARTA) project has a mission to collect, preserve, and provide access to vital arts content from the web by supporting a vibrant, growing collaboration of art and museum libraries. With funding from federal agencies and foundations, the Internet Archive is able to expand CARTA to a diverse set of museums and art libraries worldwide and to broaden the ways the resulting collections can be discovered and used both by scholar and patrons.

The arts institutions actively participating in this program so far include:

  • American Craft Council
  • American Folk Art Museum
  • ART | library deco
  • Art Gallery of Ontario
  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Getty Research Institute (Getty Library)
  • Harvard University – Fine Arts Library
  • Harvard University – Graduate School of Design
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields
  • Leonardo/ISAST
  • Maryland Institute College of Art
  • Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia
  • National Gallery of Art Library
  • National Gallery of Canada
  • New York Art Resources Consortium
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Library
  • The Corning Museum of Glass
  • The Menil Collection
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Spencer Reference Library
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hamilton Library

Membership in the program includes national and regional art and museum libraries throughout the United States and Canada committed to the preservation of 21st century art historical resources on the web. One of our early supporters and current CARTA member Amelia Nelson, Director of Library and Archives at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, noted the increased risk of losing art history on the web in comparison to earlier generations of artists: “Websites are the letters, exhibition postcards, exhibition reviews and newspaper articles of today’s artists and artistic communities, but they aren’t resources that scholars can find in archives like the physical materials that document the careers of earlier generations of artists. I worry that as we lose these sites, we are also losing the potential for scholars to place this moment in the canon of art history and culture broadly. This initiative will build a collaborative and sustainable way for art libraries to pool their limited resources, with the technical, administrative, and organizational expertise of the Internet Archive, to ensure that this content is available for future generations.”

The initial group of member institutions have identified an initial set of more than 150 valuable and at-risk websites, articles, and other materials on five primary collection topics: Local Arts Organizations; Artists Websites; Art Galleries; Auction Houses (Catalogs/Price Lists); and Art Criticism.  These collections will continue to grow and evolve over the course of the project, capturing thousands of websites and many terabytes of data. 

Untitled Art website, nominated by NYARC for inclusion in the CARTA Art Fairs and Events collection.

We’re actively seeking more US-based arts institutions to participate in the project as we continue to grow our collections of web-based art history resources. Collaborative members attend meetings every two months to coordinate curation and other group activities as well as participate in subcommittees focused on collection development, metadata, end-user/researcher engagement, and outreach. If you are involved with an art and/or museum library interested in joining this collaborative project, please complete this form.

2021 Library Leaders Forum Recap

This year’s Library Leaders Forum brought more than 1,300 people together for virtual discussions across the month of October. All of the public sessions were recorded and are available for viewing at https://www.libraryleadersforum.org. Check out the following highlights:

Library Leaders Forum Sessions

October 13
Session I: Community Dialogue
Hear from library leaders as they navigate the challenges of the ebook marketplace & their concerns about the future of library collections. Watch now

October 20
Session II: Community Impact
Hear firsthand from educators & librarians about the value of digitized library collections for the patrons, students, and communities they serve. Watch now


2021 Internet Archive Hero Award

Librarians Kanta Kapoor & Lisa Radha Weaver have been named the recipients of the 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award for helping their communities stay connected to digital books during the pandemic. Watch the awards ceremony


Conference Workshops

October 7
Controlled Digital Lending: Unlocking the Library’s Full Potential

Hear from the authors of the new CDL policy document. Watch now

October 12
Empowering Libraries Through Controlled Digital Lending

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. Watch now

October 27
Resource Sharing with the Internet Archive

Learn about the Internet Archive’s new resource sharing initiatives and how your library can participate. Watch now

Turns Out It’s Not the Technology, It’s the People

25 years ago, Brewster Kahle founded the Internet Archive, now one of the world’s largest digital libraries.

NOTE: On October 21, 2021, the Internet Archive celebrated its 25th anniversary in a virtual event featuring this keynote address by Founder & Digital Librarian, Brewster Kahle. You can watch the talk here or read the transcript below.

Universal Access to All Knowledge has been the dream for millennia, from the Library of Alexandria on forward. The idea is that if you’re curious enough to want to know something, that you can get access to that information. That was the promise of the printing press or Andrew Carnegie’s public libraries — fueling so much citizenship and democracy in the United States. The Internet was the opportunity to really make this dream come true.

What we have is an opportunity that happens maybe only once a millennium. The opportunity that  comes only when we change how knowledge is recorded and shared. From oral to manuscript, manuscript to printing, and now from printing to digital. I was lucky enough to be there in 1980 and thought: what a fantastic opportunity to try to influence that transition.

From Life magazine, Volume 19, Number 11, Sept 10, 1945

Of course, we were building on the vision of many before us. This dream of having an interlocking publishing system had been around for a long time. Vannevar Bush’s 1945 article “As We May Think” was very much on people’s minds in the 1980s. There was Ted Nelson’s Xanadu—a world of hypertext. Doug Engelbart’s way of annotating and enabling you to build on the works of others.

The key thing was not the computers. Actually, it was the network. It was the ability to communicate with each other. Sure, anybody could go and write word processing documents. That’s good. But can you make everybody a publisher? Can everyone find their voice and their community no matter where they are in the world? And can people write in a way that allows others to build on their work? By 1996, we had built that. It was the World Wide Web.

With this global publishing network, the Web, we could finally build the library. It was time to build the library. In 1996, I thought: Why don’t we just build this thing? I mean, how hard could it be? Sure, maybe we’re going to have to go and digitize a whole library, but that couldn’t be that hard, right?

And so, a group of us said, let’s do this. We started by archiving the most transient of media, which was the World Wide Web’s pages. We did that for five years before we even made the Wayback Machine. The idea was to record what people were publishing and be able to go and use that in new and different ways. Could we build a library to preserve all of that material, but then add computers to the mix, so that something new and magic happens?  Could we connect people, connect ideas, build on each other’s concepts with computers and these new AI things that we knew were coming. Ultimately could we make the world smarter?

Could we make people smarter by being better connected? Not just because they could read what other people were writing, but because machines would help filter information, scan vast amounts of knowledge, emphasize what is most important, provide context to the deluge.

In many ways, we have achieved this, but not completely enough: now people are writing and sharing knowledge, but it is intermingled with misinformation — purposefully false information.  We still don’t have the tools to filter out the lies, and in many ways, we have business models that prosper when misinformation is widely shared. So while the dream of access may be at hand, we lack the tools and responsible organizations to help us make good use of the flood of data now at our fingertips. Given how new our digital transition is, this may not be that surprising, but it is an urgent issue that faces us. We need to fight misinformation and build data-mining tools to leverage all this knowledge to help people make better decisions — to be smarter.  

This is our challenge for our next 25 years.

When we started the Internet Archive, I felt this project needed to be done in the open and as a non-profit. We needed to have not just one or two search engines, we needed lots and lots of different organizations building their new ideas on top of the whole knowledge base of humanity. We could help by being a library for this new digital world.

Caslon & Brewster Kahle in front of the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, October 9, 2002.

The libraries I grew up with were vast and free, and came with librarians who helped me understand and find things I needed to know.  In our new digital world, that future is not guaranteed. It may be that most people will just feed on what they can access for free, placed there because it’s promoted by somebody. If we don’t solve this–getting quality published material to the internet population–we’re going to bring up a generation educated on whatever dreck they can find online. So we have to build not only universal access to lots of webpages, but access to the right and best information– Universal Access to All Knowledge. That is going to require requiring changes to existing  business models and adjustments by long standing institutions. We need an Internet with many winners. If we have an Internet with just a few winners, some big corporations and large governments that are controlling too much of what’s online, then we will all lose.

A library alone can not solve all of these issues, but it is a necessary component, needed infrastructure in a digital world.

On October 12, 2012, the Internet Archive reached 10 petabytes of data stored in its repository.

25 years ago, I thought building this new library would largely be a technological process, but I was wrong.  It turns out that it’s mostly a people process. Crucially, the Internet Archive has been supported by hundreds of organizations. About 800 libraries have helped build the web collections that are in the Wayback Machine. Over 1000 libraries have contributed books to be digitized into the collections—now 5 million volumes strong. And beyond that, people with expertise in, say, railway timetables, Old Time Radio, 78 RPM records—they’ve been donating physical media and uploading digital files to our servers that you see here in this room. Last year, well over 100 million people used the resources of the Internet Archive, and over 100,000 people made a financial donation to support us.  This has truly been a global project– the people’s library.

I love the weird and wacky stuff of the Internet, just the fun and frolicy things. You go online and see these things like, wow, that’s remarkable.

Yesterday, I was looking through the uploads from Kevin Hubler. He donated the collection his father built over his lifetime.  His father collected everything a particular singer, Buddy Clark, had ever done. Clark was a 1940’s big band singer who died when he was 37.  So I could listen to records, see sheet music, and dive into details, all thanks to Kevin Hubler.  I love this– going down rabbit holes and learning something deeply.  This was a tribute to Buddy Clark, but also to Kevin and his father– who prepared and preserved something they loved for the future.

That we’re able to enjoy each other and to express our wackiness– that’s the win of the World Wide Web!  That’s the thing that you wouldn’t get if it were all just more channels of television.  Yes, the internet and the World Wide Web are a bit of the Wild West, but would you want it any other way?  Isn’t that where the fun and interesting things come from?

Today, it is still the people’s internet. That’s the internet that I wanted to support by starting the Internet Archive. The World Wide Web is an experiment in radical sharing where people feel that they’re better off, not worse off, building on other people’s works. 

I’m hopeful and optimistic that we can build this next 25 years to be as interesting and fun as the last. That we can usher in another level of technology, another 25 years of blossoming, interesting ideas.

Douglas Lurton, Grandfather & Author

I want to  end this talk with a personal story– my grandfather Douglas Lurton was a publisher and an author who died before I was born. Last weekend I searched for his name using full text search in the 20 million texts now on the Archive and found this quotation from him in a newspaper from West Sacramento: “Take the tools in hand and carve your own best life.” — Douglas Lurton

Now, I would like to extend my grandfather’s advice.  “Let us all  take our tools in hand, and together, carve our own best future.”

Let’s keep the trust.

Celebrating Kanta Kapoor: 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award Recipient

Kanta Kapoor, manager of support services, Milton Public Library, Milton, Ontario.

Kanta Kapoor was the first in her family to go to a university. Growing up in New Delhi, she was determined to become an independent woman, and she knew education was the key to success.

“I understand the value of knowledge—to survive in this world, to make a living and make informed decisions,” said Kapoor, who excelled in school and worked at public and university libraries in India for several years before moving to Canada in 2012.

Kapoor developed an expertise in emerging technologies and became an advocate for open sharing of information. Now, she is manager of support services at the Milton Public Library (MPL) in Ontario. In that role, she helped MPL become an early adopter of the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program, which offers digital access to the physical books that a library owns through the library practice known as controlled digital lending (CDL).

For her efforts to broaden access and embrace innovative practices, Kapoor has been named a recipient of the 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award. The annual award recognizes those who have exhibited leadership in making information available for digital learners all over the world. Past recipients have included Michelle Wu, Phillips Academy, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and the Grateful Dead.

Kanta helping patrons at Milton Public Library.

In her career, Kapoor has focused on leveraging technology to improve services to the community. She has a master’s degree in library science and gained a specialty in open-source software and data management through additional graduate studies at the University of Toronto.

Kapoor said she was drawn to MPL in 2019 because the leadership team was forward thinking and there was an opportunity to expand community-led projects.

“We were challenged to think outside of the box and become champions throughout Canadian public libraries to stay ahead of the curve,” Kapoor said.  

“In my career, I’ve seen many changes—and it’s still evolving. We need to continue to adapt and embrace new technology.”

Kanta Kapoor, 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award recipient

In her newly created position, she helped improve services for patrons and library staff alike with new technology, mobile apps and digitization of materials. When she was introduced to the Open Libraries program, Kapoor said she was impressed by the ability to provide millions of digitized books to users across the world. MPL decided this was the direction it wanted to go and became one of the first public libraries in Canada to embrace CDL and embed a link to Open Libraries in its catalogue.

MPL’s Mark Williams, chief librarian and chief executive officer, credits Kapoor’s strong leadership skills in building the partnership with the Internet Archive, which helped the MPL community during the earliest days of COVID-19 closures.

“It meant we were able to provide our patrons with access to tens of thousands of digitized materials at a time when they were more welcome than ever, during the pandemic lockdowns, while also being able to donate over 40,000 items for the benefit of a truly global audience,” he said. “We are incredibly fortunate that Kanta is part of the MPL team and her  compassion, graciousness, humility and ultimately exemplary leadership have been put to good use.”

Milton Public Library, Milton, Ontario

MPL expanded its partnership by donating physical items to the Archive, obtained a state-of-the-art digitization scanner, and became involved with Library Futures, a coalition of libraries and other stakeholders championing equitable access to knowledge.

Kapoor has helped promote materials available through CDL on the library’s web page, newsletters, and social media. So far, the response by users has been positive and Kapoor is reaching across her professional networks to educate her colleagues about the potential benefits.

“I encourage my fellow librarians to participate in this wonderful project to help their communities out,” Kapoor said. “In my career, I’ve seen many changes—and it’s still evolving. We need to continue to adapt and embrace new technology. I would like to see more libraries joining hands together to serve the community.”

Celebrating Lisa Radha Weaver: 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award Recipient

Lisa Radha Weaver, director of collections and program development, Hamilton Public Library, Hamilton, Ontario.

As a child, Lisa Radha Weaver says she spent most Sunday afternoons at the Kitchener Public Library in Ontario. She has fond memories of the friendly library staff helping her load up as many books as she could carry home.

Then, as a college student at Trent and Queen’s Universities, Weaver again was struck by how kind and generous the people were behind the reference desk at the library. Finally, she asked: How do you get this job?

Weaver learned about the pathway to become a professional librarian. So, after finishing her undergraduate degree in education, she earned her master of library and information science at Western University in London, Ontario.

“I knew that I wanted to serve the public in the same way that I had always been served at all the libraries that I had the privilege of growing up with in the first half of my life,” said Weaver, now director of collections and program development at Hamilton Public Library (HPL) in Ontario.

But that public service role was tested in the spring of 2020 when HPL closed due to COVID-19, as she and her fellow library staff were left wondering how they were going to get books to members who were now locked out of their physical collection. Weaver had been instrumental in helping HPL become an early adopter of the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program, which offers digital access to the physical books that a library owns. Because of the collections team’s hard work, HPL patrons had access to tens of thousands of books from the safety of their homes, and could continue to read and learn while the physical library remained closed.

Lisa Radha Weaver presents Hamilton Public Library’s 1-Millionth eBook user, Connie Vissers, with a special HPL tote bag prize on October 28, 2020 at the Terryberry Branch.

In recognition of her contributions in her 20-plus year career, and her foresight in leading HPL into new digital lending practices, Weaver has been named the recipient of the 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award. The annual award recognizes those who have exhibited leadership in making information available for digital learners all over the world. Past recipients have included Michelle Wu, Phillips Academy, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and the Grateful Dead

Weaver has long been committed to broadening access to information. Not everyone is as lucky as she was to have an adult bring them to the library, she says. Others don’t live nearby or work hours that limit their ability to physically visit a branch. To serve the changing needs of users, she has embraced digitizing collections and innovative outreach. 

Weaver led efforts at HPL to become an early adopter of Controlled Digital Lending, as well as identify special collections to donate to the Internet Archives for digitization.  

“CDL means removing barriers to access to collections in a way that is sustainable, accessible and equitable. With one library card, users have access to THE library, not just your local branch, system, region, province, state or even country,” Weaver said. “CDL means great breadth and depth in collections access. No one library can have all the books. CDL helps all libraries work together to best support each member to find what they are looking for, when and where they are looking for it.”

“I just really believe the library should be there for everyone, where they are and when they need it.”

Lisa Radha Weaver, 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award Recipient

The timing of HPL’s embrace of CDL in the fall of 2019 was fortuitous. When the physical buildings had to close due to the pandemic in March 2020 for three months, the library was positioned to provide users with digital access to its collection through the Internet Archive.

“Our hearts were a little bit less heavy, knowing that at least that part of our collection continued to be accessible to people,” Weaver said. “We had positive feedback.”

HPL also beefed up its own virtual library collection and created a range of online programming. Weaver says it developed an online reference system so users could call, email or chat to get connected to the resources or collections, which was especially helpful to teachers and students. Staff also phoned older members of the library to just check in and some were thankful to learn about new ways to access the library online.

Weaver says her team at the library is fearless and collaborative in how they approach their work.

She credits support from her administration and green light from the library’s legal team with the success of the CDL at Hamilton. Management promotes the notion of a “freedom to fail card” to encourage risk-taking, which says she seized upon to embark on the practice. Also, the library got a legal option that it shared widely backing up the notion that it was well within the library’s right to participate. “Those two things really allowed us to step forward confidently with the Internet Archive in this project,” Weaver said.

Hamilton Public Library, Hamilton, Ontario.

Since 2019, Weaver has joined the call for wider acceptance of CDL. She has participated in several panel presentations with librarians to explain the details of CDL. She has also lobbied with others in Washington, D.C., making the case to lawmakers on Capitol Hill for policy that supports the practice. Weaver is known for her professionalism and thoughtfulness in promoting the benefit of CDL.

“The ‘c’ in CDL is controlled. One copy, one use,” Weaver said. “We already own these books. Why did we buy these books, if not, for the broader library community to access?  None of us are closing our libraries because we are running out of books, so doesn’t it make sense to share? Most people buy into that idea.”

Before joining HPL in 2018, Weaver was with the Toronto District School Board as manager of collections and extension services for 13 years. In that role, she coordinated operations with the largest library system in Canada and worked with diverse communities to expand digital access to learning materials for students. Weaver was honored by the Ontario School Library Association with the 2006 Mover and Shaker Award and the 2016 Award for Technical Service.

The motivation in all her work is simple: “I just really believe the library should be there for everyone, where they are and when they need it.”  

The Internet Archive’s Community Webs Program Welcomes 60+ New Members from the US, Canada and Internationally

Community Webs, the Internet Archive’s community history web and digital archiving program, is welcoming over 60 new members from across the US, Canada, and internationally. This new cohort is the first expansion of the Community Webs program outside of the United States and we are thrilled to be supporting the development of diverse, community-based web collections on an international scale. 

Community Webs empowers cultural heritage organizations to collaborate with their communities to build web and digital archives of primary sources documenting local history and culture, especially collections inclusive of voices typically underrepresented in traditional memory collections. The program achieves this mission by providing its members with free access to the Archive-It web archiving service, digital preservation and digitization services, and technical support and training in topics such as web archiving, community outreach, and digital preservation. The program also offers resources to support a local history archiving community of practice and to facilitate scholarly research.

New Community Webs member Karen Ng, Archivist at Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), BC, Canada, notes that the program offers a way to capture community-generated online content in a context where many of the Nation’s records are held by other institutions. “The Squamish Nation community is active in creating and documenting language, traditional knowledge, and histories. Now more than ever in the digital age, it is imperative that these stories and histories be captured and stored in accessible ways for future generations.” 

Similarly, for Maryna Chernyavska, Archivist at the Kule Folklore Centre in Edmonton, Canada, the program will allow the Centre to continue building relationships with community members and organizations. “Being able to assist local heritage organizations with web archiving will help us empower these communities to preserve their heritage based on their values and priorities, but also according to professional standards.”

The current expansion of the program was made possible in part by generous funding from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, which supports the growth of Community Webs to new public libraries in the US. Additional funding provided by the Internet Archive allows the program to reach cultural heritage organizations in Canada and beyond. This newest cohort brings the total number of participants in Community Webs to over 150 organizations, a ten-fold increase since the program’s inception in 2017. For a full list of new participants, see below. The program continues to add members – if your institution is interested in joining, please view our open calls for applications and please make your favorite local memory organization aware of the opportunity.

Programming for the new cohort is underway and these members are already diving into the program’s educational resources and familiarizing themselves with the technical aspects of web archiving and digital preservation. We kicked things off recently with introductory Zoom sessions, where participants met one another and shared their organizations’ missions, communities served and goals for membership in the program. Online training modules, developed by staff at the Internet Archive and the Educopia Institute, went live for new members at the beginning of September. And our new cohort joined our existing Community Webs partners at our virtual Partner Meeting on September 22nd. 

We are thrilled to see the program continuing to grow and we look forward to working with our newest cohort. A warm welcome to the following new Community Webs members!

Canada:

  • Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute
  • Age of Sail Museum and Archives
  • Ajax Public Library
  • Blue Mountains Public Library – Craigleith Heritage Depot
  • Canadian Friends Historical Association
  • Charlotte County Archives
  • City of Kawartha Lakes Public Library
  • Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County
  • Confluence Concerts | Toronto Performing Arts Archives
  • Edson and District Historical Society – Galloway Station Museum & Archives
  • Essex-Kent Mennonite Historical Association
  • Ex Libris Association
  • Fishing Lake Métis Settlement Public Library
  • Frog Lake First Nations Library
  • Goulbourn Museum
  • Grimsby Public Library
  • Hamilton Public Library
  • Kule Folklore Centre
  • Maskwacis Cultural College
  • Meaford Museum
  • Milton Public Library
  • Mission Folk Music Festival
  • Nipissing Nation Kendaaswin
  • North Lanark Regional Museum
  • Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre
  • Parkwood National Historic Site
  • Regina Public Library
  • Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) Archives
  • Société historique du Madawaska Inc.
  • St. Clair West Oral History Project
  • Temagami First Nation Public Library
  • The ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives
  • The Historical Society of Ottawa
  • Thunder Bay Museum
  • Tk’emlups te Secwepemc

International:

  • Biblioteca Nacional Aruba
  • Institute of Information Science, Academia Sinica (Taiwan)
  • Mbube Cultural Preservation Foundation (Nigeria)
  • National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) (Republic of Trinidad and Tobago)

United States:

  • Abilene Public Library
  • Ashland City Library
  • Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History
  • Charlotte County Libraries & History
  • Choctaw Cultural Center
  • Cultura Local ABI
  • DC History Center
  • Forsyth County Public Library
  • Fort Worth Public Library
  • Inuit Circumpolar Council – Alaska
  • Menominee Tribal Archives
  • Mineral Point Library Archives
  • Obama Hawaiian Africana Museum
  • Scott County Library System
  • South Sioux City Public Library
  • St. Louis Media History Foundation
  • Tacoma Public Library
  • The History Project
  • The Seattle Public Library
  • Tipp City Public Library
  • University of Hawaiʻi – West Oʻahu
  • Wilmington Public Library District

Congrats to these new partners! We are excited to have you on board.

Librarians Kanta Kapoor and Lisa Radha Weaver to Receive 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award

Announced today at the Library Leaders Forum, librarians Kanta Kapoor (Manager, Support Services, Milton Public Library) and Lisa Radha Weaver (Director, Collections and Program Development, Hamilton Public Library) will each receive this year’s Internet Archive Hero Award for helping their communities stay connected to digital books during the pandemic. They will be presented their awards at next week’s Library Leaders Forum session—register now.

The Internet Archive Hero Award is an annual award that recognizes those who have exhibited leadership in making information available for digital learners all over the world. Previous recipients have included librarian and professor of law Michelle Wu, Phillips Academy, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and the Grateful Dead.

This year, we were looking for libraries and librarians who rose to the challenge—this was the year that libraries and librarians have been needed like never before. We wanted to acknowledge the hard work of people who went above and beyond to meet the needs of their communities.

Kanta and Lisa both exemplify the spirit of an Internet Archive Hero:

  • They helped both of their organizations become early adopters of Controlled Digital Lending in 2019. Of course no one knew it at the time, but that early move helped their patrons stay connected to resources throughout library closures of 2020 and 2021 by already having tens of thousands of digitized books available through each library’s participation in the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program.
  • They donated collections to the Internet Archive that no longer fit their library’s local collection development priorities, so that we could preserve and digitize the books, and make them available to digital learners everywhere. You can learn more about the theater books donated from Hamilton Public Library and the 30,000 books donated by Milton Public Library.
  • They were resources to their professional networks, acting as a point of reference for other librarians interested in learning more about Controlled Digital Lending.
  • They thought broadly about access to collections, considering not only, “What helps my local community?” but also, “What helps the global community?”

In addition to their shared achievements, they also brought their individual strengths to their work:

Kanta’s persistent, steady, and polite pushes—whether about donations logistics, joining Open Libraries, or offering suggestions to expand the program—are what it takes to make things happen. Kanta’s gracious and humble nature belie her steely resolve and approach to program advancement: Kanta just kept at it, politely, until she got the results that she thought was right for her library and her community.

Lisa has joined discussions about Controlled Digital Lending since 2019, participating in several panel presentations for librarians and even participating in discussions with US lawmakers and policy experts alongside ALA Annual in Washington, D.C. Lisa’s professionalism and thoughtfulness helped librarians new to the practice of Controlled Digital Lending understand how their library could benefit.

Celebrate

Join with us in celebrating Kanta and Lisa at next week’s Library Leaders Forum. Registration is free for the virtual event.

Library Leaders Forum
October 20 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET – Register now