Looking around your home in the new year and wondering what to do with all the stuff you’ve accumulated? You’re not alone — turns out 54% of Americans are overwhelmed by the amount of clutter around them. As people move or downsize, they are often in a dilemma about what to do with their beloved books and records. The same goes for colleges and libraries when they close or relocate. So what’s a preservation-minded person or organization supposed to do with their extra books, records, or other media?
The Internet Archive is here to help! We welcome donations with open arms — from single books to entire libraries. The Internet Archive seeks to preserve and digitize one copy of every book, record, CD, film, and microfilm in support of our mission to provide “Universal Access to All Knowledge.”
“Increasingly, people are turning to the Internet Archive to preserve materials and give them new life online,” said Liz Rosenberg, donation manager. “Staff members can even help to arrange for a convenient pick up of larger donations.”
“We are always looking for items that we don’t have already or ones that are in better shape,” said Rosenberg, who encourages people to check online, if convenient, if a copy is needed. For large collections or donations with special circumstances, Internet Archive will go onsite to pack and ship items at no expense to the donor. “Our goal is to make this process easy for donors.”
Internet Archive receives a variety of materials from individuals and organizations. Boxes can be mailed to facilities in Richmond, California, or brought to drop off locations in the U.S. and England. The Archive tries to digitize materials and make them available publicly, as funding allows.
Recent personal donations have included a collection of railroad maps and atlases from the 1800s. Also, a large collection of fragile 78rpm records was donated by a person in Washington, D.C., and 18,000 LP, 45, and 78 records were donated from a home in Arkansas.
We are happy to give donors a receipt for tax purposes and celebrate the donation on the archive.org site if appropriate.
“We would love to provide a forever home for your media wherever you are located, however much you have,” said Rosenberg. “I love doing this role. It restores my faith in the goodness of the world every day.”
Since 1970, America has lost over 90% of its dairy farms. Preserving the rich cultural history of our nation’s dairy farmers has gone from important to mission critical. As one small step on a challenging path, the Internet Archive is honored to partner with the American Guernsey Association, the official breed registry organization for Guernsey dairy cattle in the United States. For over a century, AGA has published the Guernsey Breeders’ Journal, the official publication of the AGA and the longest-running publication of any American dairy breed organization. Working with staff on two continents, the Archive has been able to digitize and make available to the public AGA’s entire collection of Journal issues, dating back to 1910.
The Internet Archive is thrilled to partner with the AGA by making back issues of Guernsey Breeders’ Journal available for public access. The partnership offers something for everyone – farmers, industry, historians, and Guernsey-lovers alike. By digitizing the issues at no cost to AGA, and hosting them on the Archive’s own servers, AGA is free to distribute the entirety of its magazine collection by pointing its website users to the collection on the Internet Archive, or even embedding links to the issues on its own website.
According to Robin Alden, Executive Director for American Guernsey, the partnership has been a long time coming. “This is something we have wanted to do for a long time, and I think it will be a huge benefit to our readers and to Guernsey fans.”
“By working together, the Internet Archive has made all of the digitized issues available to the public, to search engines, and back to American Guernsey for their use and preservation,” said Marina Lewis, the Collections Manager of the Internet Archive. “We hope all publishers will work with us to make back issues publicly available.”
According to Alden, the Journal is a critically important tool to reach out to AGA’s members and constituents. With almost 2,000 issues dating back to 1910, the Journal is an opportunity to provide plenty of great content to readers. In fact, a recent survey by AGA indicates that its members and constituents received critical industry information from the Journal, beyond just membership in the AGA. The survey results showed that over 90% of Guernsey enthusiasts surveyed rely on the Journal for their primary source of news on the breed and the industry.
This is something we have wanted to do for a long time, and I think it will be a huge benefit to our readers and to Guernsey fans.
Robin Alden, AGA Executive Director
In addition to industry news, the Journal is also an invaluable research tool. Alden says she receives phone calls every year from students and members of animal husbandry organizations such as 4H with requests for research materials and data. Alden is able to direct students to the online collection at the Internet Archive (and soon the AGA website) so students can have free access to historical data and images for their projects.
Most importantly, the Journal supports AGA’s mission to expand the demand for Guernsey differentiated consumer products and deliver premium returns for producers and breeder members, with the goal of providing leadership, promoting programs, services, and technologies to ensure the integrity of the breed – while enhancing the value for its members, owners, and the industry. AGA also offers a variety of products and services, in addition to its breed registry. Among these are Golden Guernsey, a consumer-facing site that offers premium dairy goods from AGA’s network of Guernsey farmers throughout the United States and Canada.
For many readers, though, having such access to the Journal provides more than just facts and data; for many, having online access to the Journal offers a window to their past. According to Alden, many readers may have grown up on a farm or may now live internationally, and having this resource and being able to provide online access is huge. “We have a lot of members who want to be able to take a walk down memory lane, and they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do so.”
The McGovern Foundation had many issues on paper, which were digitized and made searchable, but getting further back required finding microfilm. Some microfilm was found at the time and was digitized, but frankly it did not look very good.
Microfilm, now out-of-print and obsolete, was an important format for providing access — a microfilm pioneer, Robert C Binkley saw it as a democratizing force to educate everyone, not just those near libraries in large cities and top universities.
Fortunately, old microfilm collections have been acquired and also have been donated so that they can be preserved as film and preserved through digitization by the Internet Archive. Which brings us Computerworld.
This collection of Computerworld microfilm represents nearly half a century of reporting on major technology trends, from mainframes and minicomputers to iPhones, tablets and Artificial Intelligence. Now, this higher quality version of Computerworld 1967-2014 is available, searchable, and downloadable for research purposes.
This comes as the Internet Archive has been working with open source communities and with NextScan to make these and other works look as good as we can. While microfilm was almost all just grayscale, the photography, film quality, and preservation of some collections have been exceptional. By adjusting for faded film, straightening the pages, performing optical character recognition, keying dates, and detecting page numbers, the Internet Archive hopes to make our history easily accessible to everyone and for free. These works are also available to be read aloud for the print disabled.
(Full text search is available, but is in the process of being integrated.)
As a student at the University of Waterloo, whenever Drini Cami felt stressed, he’d head to the library. Wandering through the stacks, flipping through 600-page volumes about quantum mechanics or the properties of prime numbers never failed to calm him down. And the best thing? “I would always leave the library having discovered something new—usually a variety of new things,” Cami explained. “This is something I haven’t been able to replicate at a digital library like Open Library.” What Drini longed for was the ability to discover new books serendipitously, browsing bookshelves organized by a century of librarians. But unlike most readers, Drini Cami wields a superpower: he is a designer and software developer at the Internet Archive.
Enter the Open Library Explorer, Cami’s new experiment for browsing more than 4 million books in the Internet Archive’s Open Library. Still in beta, Open Library Explorer is able to harness the Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress classification systems to recreate virtually the experience of browsing the bookshelves at a physical library. Open Library Explorer enables readers to scan bookshelves left to right by subject, up and down for subclassifications. Switch a filter and suddenly the bookshelves are full of juvenile books. Type in “subject: biography” and you see nothing but biographies arranged by subject matter.
Why recreate a physical library experience in your browser?
Now that classrooms and libraries are once again shuttered, families are turning online for their educational and entertainment needs. With demand for digital books at an all-time high, the Open Library team was inspired to give readers something closer to what they enjoy in the physical world. Something that puts the power of discovery back into the hands of patrons.
Escaping the Algorithmic Bubble
One problem with online platforms is the way they guide you to new content. For music, movies, or books, Spotify, Netflix and Amazon use complicated recommendation algorithms to suggest what you should encounter next. But those algorithms are driven by the media you have already consumed. They put you into a “filter bubble” where you only see books similar to those you’ve already read. Cami and his team devised the Open Library Explorer as an alternative to recommendation engines. With the Open Library Explorer, you are free to dive deeper and deeper into the stacks. Where you go is driven by you, not by an algorithm..
Cool New Features
By clicking on the Settings gear, you can customize the look and feel of your shelves. Hit the 3D options and you can pick out the 600-page books immediately, just by the thickness of the spine. When a title catches your eye, click on the book to see whether Open Library has an edition you can preview or borrow. For more than 4 million books, borrowing a copy in your browser is just a few clicks away.
Ready to enter the library? Click here, and be sure to share feedback so the Open Library team can make it even better.
2020 has been a year to remember—and as we approach the new year, we’re taking some time to reflect. In the spirit of giving, the Internet Archive has worked hard to give back to those who need our services most, and we’re incredibly grateful for those who have lent us a hand. Thanks to the support of our community, patrons, partners, and donors, we’ve been able to accomplish some significant achievements in the past twelve months. Here are a few highlights from a year nobody can forget.
In 2020 we grew from 40 million to 65 million public media items, including texts, images, videos, and audio files. Right now, we’re storing over 70 petabytes of data (equivalent to the contents of 186 million filing cabinets) and serve more than 1.5 million visitors daily. The Wayback Machine has grown rapidly, too; right now there are 475 billion web pages archived inside it, and we’re capturing another 750 million pages every single day! We made a number of improvements to our systems to handle this growth—this fall, we installed a fiber optic connection at our headquarters in San Francisco, allowing us to drastically expand our bandwidth in response to increased demand.
2020 has brought unprecedented challenges—but this year as in every year, the Internet Archive has been hard at work ensuring that trustworthy information is available to anybody who wants it. Thank you for supporting our preservation efforts.
Be safe, have a happy holiday season, and enjoy the archive!
When we talk about the Internet Archive, it’s so easy to throw massive numbers around: 70 petabytes stored and counting, 1.5 million daily active users, 750 million webpages captured per day. What’s harder to quantify is the human element that underlies all those numbers.
As I reflect back on 2020, I can’t help but think about the importance of memory. It’s hard to believe that in the same year of the nightmarish Australian fires, we experienced a sheer medical miracle in the form of Coronavirus vaccines. How much has happened in such a short time? How many stories, tragedies, triumphs in just 11 months?
These memories — the personal stories, collections, family histories — are our threads to the past, and our roadmaps going forward. Both precious and fragile, it’s on us to keep them safe.
Here’s one memory I’ll always treasure. I come from a sports family—all sports, really, but baseball in particular. My dad grew up playing little league, eventually making his way to the Softball World Series in the 1950s. His friend Bob went on to play for the San Francisco Giants. I grew up hearing about the time my dad was invited down to the dugout to meet the Yankees: Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra. I’ve probably listened to these stories a thousand times.
When my dad’s dementia started to get really bad, we’d retell these old stories to cheer him up. So much of his frustration had to do with the inability to create new memories. But these old ones were still vivid, very much intact—something we could all still share and remember together.
Sometimes if I want to feel close to him, I’ll throw on one of these classic games. The 1951 Giants v Dodgers NL Championship, the ‘shot heard ‘round the world.’ My dad would have been 11 years old, listening to that same broadcast. Or cheering on Willie Mays and Willie McCovey in the 1962 Yankees v Giants World Series. He would’ve been 22, with his friend pitching for the team that year.
The personal stories, family histories, and threads to the past—are precious. And fragile. That’s why it’s on us, all of us, to protect and keep them safe. That’s why I work at the Internet Archive, and why its mission is more critical than ever.
Right now, we’re in the middle of our yearly donations drive. The end of the year is a time both to look back and to give back, and the Internet Archive is hard at work on both. So if you’ve found something in the archive that’s meaningful to you, or that brought back memories, or that you think should be preserved, we’d love it if you could chip in.
We hope you have a healthy and safe holiday season—and that this year, you’ll make some memories that will never be lost.
Katie Barrett is the Development Manager at the Internet Archive. When she’s not listening to old baseball broadcasts or raising support for causes she loves, she’s phone banking for the sake of democracy or dressing her dog up in costumes.
By day, he’s a D.C.-based intellectual property lawyer. By night, he’s the leader of a jazz quartet with numerous private event gigs and plum spots on the D.C. jazz club and brunch circuits. At least that was the story until COVID hit earlier this year and almost all the live sessions vanished. Since March, Bob Schwartz has been more focused on his legal career, and sessions with his band, the Bob Schwartz Quartet, have been few and far between. “It’s been hard going from 70 gigs a year to just a few outdoor events and rehearsals,” he says, adding, ”Of course it’s been far harder on those who rely on music for a living — please find and support their virtual concerts.”
This Thursday, however, the Bob Schwartz Quartet (BSQ) will be together again—albeit masked and socially distanced with open windows and space heaters—as they play a mini concert during our Public Domain Day celebration, a free, virtual event highlighting the works that will be moving into the public domain in 2021.
Starting at 2:45pm PST, a full 15 minutes before the remarks start, Bob and his bandmates will be welcoming guests to the party with a selection of tunes from the public domain—those works that have passed out of copyright and are free for creators to remix, reuse, and redistribute at will.
In addition to the mini concert at the start of the celebration, BSQ will also be debuting a medley of portions of ten of the many great songs that will enter the public domain in 2021. “I knew that David Berger and Chuck Israels, the creators of the Music Library Association’sPublic Domain Song Anthology, are nearing completion of a 1924-1925 supplement,” Bob recounts. “They sent me their progress sheets on dozens of these wonderful songs. We chose segments from ten to join together into a 6-minute medley.”
To send our guests off with toes tapping, BSQ will play another selection of public domain songs to close out our show. BSQ’s planned setlist includes:
Entrance Music Annie Laurie – Lady Alicia Scott ~1834 to fit a William Douglas (~1682 – 1748) poem. My Melancholy Baby – Ernie Burnett / George A. Norton 1911 / 1912 Look For The Silver Lining – Jerome Kern / B.G. (Buddy) DeSylva 1919
Medley (Mashup) of Songs Published in 1925 If You Knew Susie – Joseph Myer & Buddy DeSylva I’m Sitting On Top of the World – Ray Henderson / Sam M. Lewis Always – Irving Berlin Dinah – Harry Akst / Sam M. Lewis & Joseph Young Five Foot Two– Ray Henderson / Sam M. Lewis & Joseph Young Yes Sir, That’s My Baby – Walter Donaldson / Gus Kahn Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie — Billy Rose, Ballard MacDonald, Joseph Meyer Bye Bye Blues– Fred Hamm, Dave Bennett, Bert Lown, Chauncey Gray Manhattan – Rodgers & Hart Sweet Georgia Brown – Ben Bernie & Maceo Pinkard / Kenneth Casey
Exit Music Who’s Sorry Now? – Ted Snyder / Bert Kalmar & Harry Ruby 1923 All By Myself – Irving Berlin 1921 Ja-Da – Bob Carleton 1918 / Jerome Avenue – Bob Schwartz original largely on Jada chord progression. (A note from Bob: Chord progressions are PD—I actually based my tune on Sonny Rollins’ 1954 Doxy, now a jazz standard. A reason why these PD anthologies are so vital for music education.)
Tickets are still available for the Public Domain Day celebration, which is being cohosted by Creative Commons, the Center for the Study of the Public Domain, Internet Archive, SPARC, and Wikimedia Foundation. Registration for the virtual event is free and open to the public. The session will be recorded for those who cannot attend synchronously.
BSQ (Bob Schwartz Quartet) is: Bob Schwartz (Constantine Cannon LLP) tenor sax & flutes Ralph Cornwell (JHU Applied Physics Lab) vibraphone Herb Nachmann (BAE Systems, Inc., ret.) acoustic bass Alan Kirschenbaum (Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C.) drums Nina Schwartz (Impulse Graphics LLC) vocals Learn more & connect with BSQ
On January 1st, 2021, many books, movies and other media from 1925 will enter the public domain in the United States. Some of them are quite famous — jump ahead to see lists of those well known books and movies that you can enjoy on the Internet Archive — or take the scenic route with me.
What does this all mean? Essentially, many items created in 1925 in the US that are still under copyright will become free and open for people to use in any way they see fit in the new year. But check out Duke Law’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain article for a more in-depth explanation.
As part of this yearly ritual, I explore our collections to unearth these newly freed items, and I invariably run across a few things that hit a nerve. This year, it started with this intertitle in “Isn’t Life Terrible?” Less than 20 seconds into this 1925 film, and suddenly I’m dumped back into 2020.
Rude, right? I don’t even have a front yard to enjoy during shelter in place.
Gondolas still glide under the Bridge of Sighs, and the Tower of Pisa is still leaning, but the 1925 version of the Colosseum certainly lacks today’s fake gladiator photo ops.
Looking at the past with the eyes of today
Every toe dipped into the past has the potential to surprise or shock. The story of a pantry shelf, an outline history of grocery specialties is only mildly interesting on the surface. Essentially, it’s a sales pitch to food manufacturers encouraging them to advertise in a set of women’s magazines. The book contains short case histories of successful food brands like Maxwell House Coffee, Campbell Soup, Coca Cola, etc. (all of whom advertise with them, naturally).
The book gives you a glimpse of why people were so enthusiastic about mass produced, packaged foods. Unsanitary conditions, bugs in your sugar, milk going bad over night; things modern shoppers never think about.
It puts this glowing praise of Kraft Cheese into perspective: “…a pasteurized product, blended to obtain a uniformity of quality and flavor, a thing greatly lacking in ordinary types of cheese.” (page 149)
That’s pretty entertaining if you’re a cheese lover. I think most people would agree that Kraft cheese is no longer on the cutting edge.
But keep poking around and you find a much deeper cultural divergence. While The story of a pantry shelf is extolling the virtues of the home economics training available at Cornell, you stumble across this horrifying sentence (page 12).
I was not expecting to read about orphaned babies being used as “learning aids” while flipping through stories about Jell-O. Intellectually, I know that attitudes towards children have changed over the years — the Fair Labor Standards Act, which set federal standards for child labor, wasn’t even passed until 1938. But this casual aside tossed in amongst the marketing hype still packs an emotional punch. It’s important to remember how far we have come.
Even writing that was forward-thinking for the time, like the booklet Homo-sexual life, is terribly backward according to today’s standards. It’s from the Little Blue Book series — we have many that were published in 1925, and the publisher was quite prolific for many years. The series provided working class people with inexpensive access to all kinds of topics including philosophy, sexuality, science, religion, law, and government. Post WWII, they published criticism of J. Edgar Hoover and the founder was subsequently targeted by the FBI for tax evasion. But in 1925, they were going strong and one of their prolific writers was Clarence Darrow.
Controversies of the Age
Darrow was writing about prohibition for the Little Blue Book series in 1925, but that is also the year he defended John T. Scopes for teaching evolution in his Tennessee classroom. The Scopes Trial generated a huge amount of publicity, pitting religion against science, and even giving rise to popular songs like these two 78rpm recordings from 1925.
Like the Scopes trial, prohibition had its passionate adherents and detractors. This was the “Roaring 20s” — the year The Great Gatsby was published — with speakeasies and flappers and iconic cocktails. And yet the pro-prohibition silent film Episodes in the Life of a Gin Bottle follows a bottle around as it lures people into a state of dissolution.
And the most unchanging part of this particular season, of course — children still anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus with questions, wishes and schemes.
The silent film Santa Claus features two children who want to know where Saint Nick lives and how he spends his time. We follow him to the North Pole (Alaska in disguise) to see Santa’s workshop, snow castle, reindeer, and friends and neighbors. Jack Frost, introduced around 14:20, appears to be wearing the prototype for Ralphie’s bunny suit in “A Christmas Story” (but with a magic wand). Stick around for the sleigh crash at 20:45, and right around 22:20 Santa wipes out on the ice.
And just in case you’re still doing your holiday shopping, I feel like I should pass on a recommendation from this ad in a 1925 The Billboard magazine: Armadillo Baskets make beautiful Christmas gifts. And you can still buy vintage versions online – trust me, I looked. You’re welcome.
Local history collections are necessary to understanding the life and culture of a community. As methods for sharing information have shifted towards the web, there are many more avenues for community members to document diverse experiences. Public libraries play a critical role in building community-oriented archives and these collections are particularly important in recording the impact of unprecedented events on the lives of local citizens.
Last week, we announced a major national expansion of our Community Webs program providing infrastructure, services, and training to public librarians to archive local history as documented on the web… We now invite public libraries in the United States and cultural heritage organizations in U.S. territories to apply to join the Community Webs program. Participants in the program receive free web archiving and technical services, education, professional development, and funding to build community history web archives, especially collections documenting the lives of patrons and communities traditionally under-represented in the historical record.
Need to know what an Igloo really looks like? How about a Siberian hut? Or the inside of a 15th Century jail? For 50 years in Hollywood, generations of filmmakers would beat a path to the Michelson Cinema Research Library, where renowned film researcher Lillian Michelson could hunt down the answer to just about any question. She was the human card catalogue to a library of more than one million books, photos, periodicals and clippings. But ever since Lillian retired a decade ago, the Michelson Cinema Research Library has been languishing in cold storage, looking for a home. Today it has found one. Lillian Michelson, 92, announced that she is donating her library and life’s work to the Internet Archive. For its part, the nonprofit digital library vows to preserve her collection for the long-term and digitize as much of it as possible, making it accessible to the world.
“I feel as if a fantasy I never, never entertained has been handed to me by the universe, by fate,” mused the legendary film researcher.“The Internet Archive saved my library in the best way possible. I hope millions of people will use it [to research] space, architecture, costumes, towns, cities, administration, foreign countries… the crime business! Westerns! That’s what is amazing to me, that it will be open to everybody.”
Internet Archive founder, Brewster Kahle, explained why his organization was willing to accept the entire Michelson collection and keep it intact: “A library is more than a collection of books. It is the center of a community. For decades, the Michelson Cinema Research Library informed Hollywood—and we want to see that continue. Many organizations wanted pieces of the collection, but I think the importance of keeping it together is so it can continue to help inspire global filmmakers to make accurate and compelling movies.”
With $20,000 borrowed against her husband Harold’s life insurance policy, Lillian Michelson purchased the reference library in 1969. Over the next half-century, the Michelson Cinema Research Library had many homes. From the Samuel Goldwyn Studios it moved to the American Film Institute, then to Paramount Studios, and finally to Zoetrope Studios at the invitation of director, Francis Ford Coppola. Michelson later received an offer via Jeffrey Katzenberg to move the Michelson Cinema Research Library to the newly opened DreamWorks Pictures, where it remained until Lillian’s retirement due to health reasons 19 years later.
The Michelson Cinema Research Library includes some 5,000+ books dating back to the early 1800s; periodicals, 30,000+ photographs, and 3,000+ clipping files. In storage they filled some 1600 boxes on 45 pallets—enough to fill more than two 18-wheel tractor trailers. Its contents have now been moved for long-term preservation to the Internet Archive’s physical archive in Richmond, California.
For six decades, Michelson’s research informed scores of Hollywood films, including The Right Stuff, Rosemary’s Baby, Scarface, Fiddler on the Roof, Full Metal Jacket, The Graduate and The Birds.
Bringing this historic Hollywood design resource back to life—a largely digital life—can make it a global design resource for art directors, designers, filmmakers and researchers in search of information and visual inspiration.
“Lillian Michelson opened my eyes to the importance of a research library to all aspects of motion picture production. At a time when the rich and deep research libraries created and maintained by the motion picture studios were being ‘given away’ or otherwise destroyed, Lillian was a beacon of light guiding us to consider them as treasure.”
—Academy Award-winning director, Francis Ford Coppola
The story of her long and creative union with renowned storyboard artist Harold Michelson was told in Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story, a 2015 documentary produced and directed by Daniel Raim and currently streaming on Netflix. (To honor this devoted Hollywood couple, the DreamWorks Pictures named the king and queen in Shrek 2 Harold and Lillian.)
Lillian Michelson will preside over a virtual ribbon cutting, panel discussion, and a screening of the documentary on Wednesday, January 27 from 4-6:30 PM Pacific time. There, she will unveil the first phase of her new digital library, available to the world via the Internet Archive’s digital platform, at https://archive.org/details/michelson. Sign up for the screening event here.