Category Archives: Announcements

Public Library Lending: An Endangered Core Value of American Democracy?

Since 18th century and pre-Constitution America, libraries have been a public space, a central repository where books could be borrowed, read and returned—a long defended democratic ideal of the public library. But new challenges like book bans and lawsuits against libraries threaten that historic role. Join Brewster Kahle for a discussion about the future of libraries at The Commonwealth Club of California, October 6 @ 5:30pm PT.

Public Library Lending: An Endangered Core Value of American Democracy?
October 6 @ 5:30pm PT
The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium
Register now for the in-person event (virtual attendance available)

Building Democracy’s Library—Celebrate with the Internet Archive on October 19

Join us on October 19 to help inaugurate Democracy’s Library and celebrate all the different efforts happening at the Internet Archive!

Why is it that on the internet the best information is often locked behind paywalls?  Brewster Kahle, founder of The Internet Archive, believes it’s time to turn that scarcity model upside down and build an internet based on abundance. Join us for an evening event where he’ll share a new project—Democracy’s Library—a free, open, online compendium of government research and publications from around the world. Why? Because democracies need an educated citizenry to thrive.

This year’s event is hybrid. We will be celebrating in-person at our main library in San Francisco, and will be livestreaming the event itself from 7pm-8pm PT so that everyone who cares about democracy around the world can join in.

Register now for in-person or virtual attendance

Event details
5pm: Entertainment, Mingling and Food Trucks
7pm: Democracy’s Library presentation featuring Leslie Weir, Librarian and Archivist of Canada and Jamie Joyce, Executive Director of The Society Library.
8pm: Dancing in the Streets with “Hot Buttered Rum”

Registration is required: Register now for in-person or virtual attendance.
Location: 300 Funston Ave. at Clement St., San Francisco

Launching Legal Literacies for Text Data Mining – Cross Border (LLTDM-X)

We are excited to announce that the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded nearly $50,000 through its Digital Humanities Advancement Grant program to UC Berkeley Library and Internet Archive to study legal and ethical issues in cross-border text data mining research. NEH funding for the project, entitled Legal Literacies for Text Data Mining – Cross Border (LLTDM-X), will support research and analysis that addresses law and policy issues faced by U.S. digital humanities practitioners whose text data mining research and practice intersects with foreign-held or licensed content, or involves international research collaborations. LLTDM-X builds upon Building Legal Literacies for Text Data Mining Institute (Building LLTDM), previously funded by NEH. UC Berkeley Library directed Building LLTDM, bringing together expert faculty from across the country to train 32 digital humanities researchers on how to navigate law, policy, ethics, and risk within text data mining projects (results and impacts are summarized in the white paper here.) 

Why is LLTDM-X needed?

Text data mining, or TDM, is an increasingly essential and widespread research approach. TDM relies on automated techniques and algorithms to extract revelatory information from large sets of unstructured or thinly-structured digital content. These methodologies allow scholars to identify and analyze critical social, scientific, and literary patterns, trends, and relationships across volumes of data that would otherwise be impossible to sift through. While TDM methodologies offer great potential, they also present scholars with nettlesome law and policy challenges that can prevent them from understanding how to move forward with their research. Building LLTDM trained TDM researchers and professionals on essential principles of licensing, privacy law, as well as ethics and other legal literacies —thereby helping them move forward with impactful digital humanities research. Further, digital humanities research in particular is marked by collaboration across institutions and geographical boundaries. Yet, U.S. practitioners encounter increasingly complex cross-border problems and must accordingly consider how they work with internationally-held materials and international collaborators.

How will LLTDM-X help? 

Our long-term goal is to design instructional materials and institutes to support digital humanities TDM scholars facing cross-border issues. Through a series of virtual roundtable discussions, and accompanying legal research and analyses, LLTDM-X will surface these cross-border issues and begin to distill preliminary guidance to help scholars in navigating them. After the roundtables, we will work with the law and ethics experts to create instructive case studies that reflect the types of cross-border TDM issues practitioners encountered. Case studies, guidance, and recommendations will be widely-disseminated via an open access report to be published at the completion of the project. And most importantly, these resources will be used to inform our future educational offerings.

The LLTDM-X team is eager to get started. The project is co-directed by Thomas Padilla, Deputy Director, Archiving and Data Services at Internet Archive and Rachael Samberg, who leads UC Berkeley Library’s Office of Scholarly Communication Services. Stacy Reardon, Literatures and Digital Humanities Librarian, and Timothy Vollmer, Scholarly Communication and Copyright Librarian, both at UC Berkeley Library, round out the team.

We would like to thank NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities again for funding this important work. The full press release is available at UC Berkeley Library’s website. We invite you to contact us with any questions.

Internet Archive Seeks Summary Judgment in Federal Lawsuit Filed By Publishing Companies

The Internet Archive has asked a federal judge to rule in our favor and end a radical lawsuit, filed by four major publishing companies, that aims to criminalize library lending.

The motion for summary judgment, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Durie Tangri LLP, explains that our Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) program is a lawful fair use that preserves traditional library lending in the digital world. 

The brief explains how the Internet Archive is advancing the purposes of copyright law by furthering public access to knowledge and facilitating the creation of new creative and scholarly works. The Internet Archive’s digital lending hasn’t cost the publishers one penny in revenues; in fact, concrete evidence shows that the Archive’s digital lending does not and will not harm the market for books.

Earlier today, we hosted a press conference with stakeholders in the lawsuit and the librarians and creators who will be affected by its outcome, including:

“Should we stop libraries from owning and lending books? No,” said Brewster Kahle, the Internet Archive’s founder and digital librarian. “We need libraries to be independent and strong, now more than ever, in a time of misinformation and challenges to democracy. That’s why we are defending the rights of libraries to serve our patrons where they are, online.”

Through CDL, the Internet Archive and other libraries make and lend out digital scans of print books in our collections, subject to strict technical controls. Each book loaned via CDL has already been bought and paid for, so authors and publishers have already been fully compensated for those books. Nonetheless, publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House sued the Archive in 2020, claiming incorrectly that CDL violates their copyrights.

“The publishers are not seeking protection from harm to their existing rights. They are seeking a new right foreign to American copyright law: the right to control how libraries may lend the books they own,” said EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry. “They should not succeed. The Internet Archive and the hundreds of libraries and archives that support it are not pirates or thieves. They are librarians, striving to serve their patrons online just as they have done for centuries in the brick-and-mortar world. Copyright law does not stand in the way of a library’s right to lend its books to its patrons, one at a time.”

Authors and librarians speak out in support of the Internet Archive

“In the all-consuming tide of entropy, the Internet Archive brings some measure of order and permanence to knowledge,” said author Tom Scocca. “Out past the normal circulating lifespan of a piece of writing—or past the lifespan of entire publications—the Archive preserves and maintains it.”

“The library’s practice of controlled digital lending was a lifeline at the start of the pandemic and has become an essential service and a public good since,” said Benjamin Saracco, a research and digital services faculty librarian at an academic medical and hospital library in New Jersey. “If the publishers are successful in their pursuit to shut down the Internet Archive’s lending library and stop all libraries from practicing controlled digital lending, libraries of all varieties and the communities they serve will suffer.”

Knowledge Rights 21 Calls for Action on Library Rights

Last week, Knowledge Rights 21 released a strong call to action to ensure that libraries can continue serving their centuries old role in society of providing access to knowledge to the public. Knowledge Rights 21 is an Arcadia funded project advocating for copyright and open access reform across Europe.

In their Position Statement on eBooks and eLending, Knowledge Rights 21 explains that government action is urgently needed because the market for eBooks now operates outside of the current copyright law that permits libraries to acquire, lend and preserve physical books. Monopolistic behavior by commercial publishers including refusals to sell, embargoes, high prices, and restrictive licensing terms have frustrated libraries’ ability to undertake collection development, hurting those who rely on libraries for education, research, and cultural participation.

The Position Statement demands that “governments must wake up and act now before the rights of citizens to access information and learning through libraries are eroded any further.” The Statement proposes the following clarifications in EU law:

1.The right for libraries to acquire, preserve and make a digital reproduction of
an analogue and / or an electronic book / audiobook that has been made
available in the market under sale or licence;
2. No more copies than have been acquired under 1 above, shall be loaned to
members of the public at any one time. Libraries should have the right to lend
directly to users, as well as via other libraries as part of interlibrary loan;
3. Neither contracts nor technical protection measures shall be enforceable to
prevent this;
4. Any loans made under this shall require the payment of [Public Lending Right] monies by public libraries in line with existing practice with paper and or audiobooks.

The Internet Archive agrees that action on this issue is important and necessary. We are defending these principles in US court, in the lawsuit brought by four of the world’s largest publishers over our controlled digital lending program. We look forward to working with Knowledge Rights 21 and the library community “to help libraries not only to survive, but also to flourish” as the EU Court of Justice said in its landmark case supporting eBook lending by libraries.

Recent Report from IFLA: How well did copyright laws serve libraries during COVID-19?

The short answer to this question from a report recently published by IFLA appears to be: not very well at all. The report documents a worldwide survey of 114 libraries, 83% of which said they had copyright-related challenges providing materials during pandemic-related facility closures. The report also provides direct quotes from a series of interviews of library professionals, discussing the challenges they faced and often how difficult digital access to necessary materials such as textbooks has been throughout the last two years. As one librarian from the United States explains:

Times were tough. We were scrambling and worried about so many things – including the health and safety of our students, faculty and colleagues – and trying to spin up as much as possible in the way of service. There are certainly some vendors that we personally like the interactions with, but it felt to me like the publishers saw this as an opportunity just to make more money and not really an opportunity to build stronger connections with us and our library. They offered free things for a very limited period of time.

The report is well worth reading in its 22-page entirety. You can find it here.

Building the Collective COVID-19 Web Archive

The COVID-19 pandemic has been life-changing for people around the globe. As efforts to slow the progress of the virus unfolded in early 2020, librarians, archivists and others with interest in preserving cultural heritage began considering ways to document the personal, societal, and systemic impacts of the global pandemic. These collections  included preserving physical, digital and web-based information and artifacts for posterity and future research use. 

Clockwise from top left: blog post about local artists making masks from Kansas City Public Library’s “COVID-19 Outbreak” collection; youth vaccination campaign website from American Academy of Pediatrics’ “AAP COVID” collection, COVID-19 case dashboard from Carnegie Mellon University’s “COVID-19” collection and COVID-19 FAQs from Library of Michigan’s “COVID-19 in Michigan” collection.

In response, the Internet Archive’s Archive-It service launched a COVID-19 Web Archiving Special Campaign starting in April 2020 to allow existing Archive-It partners to increase their web archiving capacity or new partners to join to collect COVID-19 related content. In all, more than 100 organizations took advantage of the COVID-19 Web Archiving Special Campaign and more than 200 Archive-It partner organizations built more than 300 new collections specifically about the global pandemic and its effects on their regions, institutions, and local communities. From colleges, universities, and governments documenting their own responses to community-driven initiatives like Sonoma County Library’s Sonoma Responds Community Memory Archive, a variety of information has been preserved and made available. These collections are critical historical records in and of themselves, and when taken in aggregate will allow researchers a comprehensive view into life during the pandemic.

Sonoma County Library’s Sonoma Responds: A Community Memory Archive encouraged community members to contribute content documenting their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have been exploring with partners ways to provide unified access to hundreds of individual COVID-related web collections created by Archive-It users. When the Institute of Museum and Library Services launched the American Rescue Plan grant program, that was part of the broader American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package signed into law on March 11, we applied and were awarded funding  to build a COVID-19 Web Archive access portal – a dedicated search and discovery access platform for COVID-19 web collections from hundreds of institutions.  The COVID-19 Web Archive will allow for browsing and full text search across diverse institutional collections and enable other access methods, including making datasets and code notebooks available for data analysis of the aggregate collections by scholars.  This work will support scholars, public health officials, and the general public in fully understanding the scope and magnitude of our historical moment now and into the future. The COVID-19 Web Archive is unique in that it will provide a unified discovery mechanism to hundreds of aggregated web archive collections built by a diverse group of over 200 libraries from over 40 US states and several other nations, from large research libraries to small public libraries to government agencies. If you would like your Archive-It collection or a portion of it included in the COVID-19 Web Archive, please fill out this interest form by Friday, April 29, 2022. If you are an institution in the United States that has COVID-related web archives collected outside of Archive-It or Internet Archive services that you are interested in having included in the COVID-19 Web Archive, please contact covidwebarchive@archive.org.

The Wikimedian On a Mission to Connect Everything

From her home in Wellington City, New Zealand, Siobhan Leachman is devoted to doing what she can to make it easier for the public to access information about scientific discoveries. In particular, she wants to highlight the contributions of women in science.

Wikimedian Siobhan Leachman, taken at the 2019 Wellington Botanic Garden BioBlitz. Source

Leachman is a volunteer Wikimedian, digital curator, and citizen scientist. She uses open content to create open content. Her mission in life: To connect everything. And in doing so, she relies on the Internet Archive—and adds to its resources. 

The Wayback Machine is vital to Leachman’s work, which focuses on putting reference citations in Wikidata or Wikipedia. If she comes across a broken link in her research, the Wayback Machine is her go-to source to recover it. As Leachman edits an article and inserts the digital URLs, she also saves her work through the Internet Archive for others. 

“It’s part of my workflow and just takes a couple of minutes,” she said of sharing the references she finds with the Wayback Machine. “It means the information is there in perpetuity. Five years down the road, what I was using as a reference is still there—rather than worrying about the link disappearing into the ether.”

Leachman got started as a digital volunteer for the Smithsonian transcribing journals. “I just fell in love with doing it,” she said. “I’d end up going down these research rabbit holes, finding out about the people and I’d want to know more.”  

In her research, Leachman has gravitated to natural history, learning about different species and wanting to preserve knowledge about New Zealand’s biodiversity. She reviewed diaries of scientists collecting specimens and was spurred to do more research about their lives. 

Leachman uncovered many women who had made contributions, but whose stories were not chronicled. One  of the scientists she’s researched is Winifred Chase, an American who participated in a botanical expedition to the South Pacific in 1909 with two other women. Leachman helped trace lantern slides created by Chase on the journey to New Zealand, which she incorporated into her Wikipedia entry on Chase’s life.

To complete the profiles of the scientists she’s researching, Leachman tracks down information about their lives and work through genealogy sites, as well as year books and natural history society journals found in the Internet Archive and borrowed via her Internet Archive account. “It’s absolutely thrilling. I love the stories,” she said of her research. “It’s as if you are reaching across time.” Leachman pieces together details and writes articles about female scientists, and in doing so, has become an advocate for open access.

“I’m keen on showing that women have contributed to science forever. It’s just not well documented,” said Leachman, who found many of the subjects she’s covered were amateur botanists or entomologists. “They’ve done a lot of work, but it’s like me—unpaid, a hobby. But they still contributed to science.”

Although some did not have university qualifications, women played a role over the years, said Leachman, and it’s important they get the recognition they deserve.

She often links her findings to the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a worldwide consortium of natural history, botanical, research, and national libraries working together to digitize the natural history literature held in their collections and make it freely available online. The Internet Archive partners with BHL and its member libraries by providing digitization, storage and access for scanned books.

Closer to home, the New Zealand National Library recently faced a dilemma about what to do with low-circulating physical material it no longer had the space to store. Leachman applauded the Library’s initial plans to donate 600,000 excess books to the Internet Archive, but laments the announcement this week that the donation is on pause. Once digitized, the books would have been accessible to anyone through Controlled Digital Lending, and could have been linked to Wikipedia. In Leachman’s view, the donation and digitization of these books would greatly improve access to the knowledge held within these publications for the benefit of all—not just New Zealanders, but for the world. She is hopeful that this hiatus will be short-lived and that the National Library will soon be sending those books to the Internet Archive for the good of all.

Added Leachman: “The Internet Archive rocks my world. I just love it. It’s so easy to get what you need. I just think it’s amazing.”

A 2-For-1 Cyber Celebration

The Internet has revolutionized everything from how we work to how we play—even how we do our holiday shopping. Although there’s a lot of advertising, spin, and flashy discounts crowding the Web, there are also hidden gems and common goods. This Cyber Monday, we’re celebrating the original promise of cyberspace: a place where anyone can share knowledge freely.

From the beginning, the Internet Archive was meant to be a Library of Everything for the digital age. Not only would it be a resource available to the entire world, but it would be a step forward into the future—smarter than paper and more accessible than a physical library. For 25 years we’ve been building the our collections, with help from our community every step of the way. Your support has always been crucial for our work.

Right now we’re in the middle of our End of Year fundraising campaign. Thanks to a generous anonymous donor, all gifts received through December 31, 2021 will be matched 2-to-1, tripling the impact of your generosity towards this valuable resource. If you find our website useful, please consider donating to help us continue to expand and grow.

The Internet Archive is home to billions of webpages; millions of books, videos, audio files, and images; and hundreds of thousands of software programs. Making that much data freely available to our more than 1.5 million daily users comes with a cost. Your donations will ensure that our servers can keep running, our storage can grow, and our staff can continue to maintain our systems and infrastructure. 

If you can’t imagine a future without access to our vast collections, please make a tax-deductible donation today. Big or small, we promise to put your donation to good use as we continue to further Universal Access to All Knowledge.