Category Archives: Lending Books

Access to Rare Historical Materials Makes an Ocean of Difference for Stanford Professor

The kind of materials that Stanford English professor Margaret Cohen uses in her work, including the history of ocean travel in the period known as the “Age of Sail,” can be difficult to find.

Professor Margaret Cohen, Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French Language, Literature, and Civilization and Director, Center for the Study of the Novel at Stanford University.

Books and illustrations from the 18th and 19th centuries needed in her research and teaching are often tucked away in rare book collections. For about five years, Cohen has been turning to the Internet Archive for help. And that access was even more critical during the pandemic when physical libraries were closed.

“It’s really enriched the arguments I can make about cultural history,” Cohen said. “The availability of documents and the very intensive work of tracking these down has become so much easier. The Internet Archive is a very user-friendly tool.”

The Biodiversity Heritage Library has been a resource to Cohen in teaching her English class, Imagining the Ocean. She has discovered manuals from Philip Henry Gosse, who created the first public aquarium, envisioning them as beautiful ocean gardens.  Cohen also shares her screen with students to discuss drawings of the sails, seashore and sea-anemones from the Victorian Age that she accesses through the Archive.

Actinologia britannica, 1860, Plate V.

“Access to the history of science is useful to me. I’m a literature professor, but the imagination spans across different areas,” said Cohen, the Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French Language, Literature, and Civilization and Director, Center for the Study of the Novel.

In her own research of oceanic studies, Cohen explores the importance of diversity and reality in marine environments. She tapped into the Internet Archive to fact-check information for A Cultural History of the Sea, (Bloomsbury, April 2021), a six-volume series that she edited chronicling the vital role oceans have played over time.

In researching her upcoming book, The Underwater Eye: How the Movie Camera Opened the Depths and Unleashed New Realms of Fantasy to be published by Princeton University Press, Cohen said the Wayback Machine was critical in confirming sources on websites that were no longer live.

Punch, 1879, Vol 76

The Sci-Fi/Horror collection of the Internet Archive has been useful to Cohen in teaching a course on Gothic film—especially since YouTube recently took down many of its films in that genre, she said.

Much of the material Cohen is looking for is in the public domain (such as Punch, a satirical British magazine that dates back to the mid-1800s ) but the documents are fragile because of their age. She has also  appreciated being able to borrow classic books of literary criticism, such as the collection on novel studies that supports her graduate course, Genres of the Novel. 

 “People’s time is limited and having access to this material facilitates scholarship,” Cohen said of the benefits of digitized documents. “I understand why publishers need to make money and I publish myself, but free access to information, particularly for nonprofit use, is a gift.”

Graduate Student: Internet Archive an “absolutely indispensable resource”

Although Casey Patterson spent much of the COVID-19 lockdown in a dank San Francisco basement apartment, he says he felt lucky in many ways.

The graduate student in English from Stanford University stayed healthy and—despite not having physical access to a library—was able to research his dissertation, teach classes, and prepare for job interviews. This was possible because of online access to materials through the Internet Archive.

Graduate student and educator, Casey Patterson

Patterson, who is entering the sixth year of his doctoral program, offered to teach an online African American literature class to undergraduates as soon as COVID-19 shut down the campus and the university shifted to virtual instruction.

“I just felt a degree of duty to sign up for a lot of teaching. I wanted to be able to support students and knew the transition to online education was going to be rocky,” said Patterson, who also taught an Intro to Black Studies course during the pandemic. “It was chaotic. Obviously, we had a really tough time trying to figure out how to keep students engaged and make education a humane process.”

Instead of expecting students to buy several books, and without the ability for them to check out books in a library, Patterson turned to the Internet Archive. Patterson found works of Black critics such as Toni Morrison and C.L.R. James and their writings about 19th century authors Edgar Allen Poe and Herman Melville to use in class. He downloaded classics including Moby Dick and Huckleberry Finn to the Canvas learning management system and made them immediately available to students.

“Using the Internet Archive, I could lay hands on basically everything I needed. It was an absolutely indispensable resource at the time.”

Casey Patterson, graduate student

“It’s super helpful when you’re asking students to read 10 short passages from three different novels,” Patterson said of using the Internet Archive. “It would be cruel to ask them to buy all of the books or track them down to the library. This way you put them right at the students’ fingertips.”

Patterson also relied on text from the Internet Archive for his own research. For his dissertation, he is examining the role of educational history as a way of understanding African American literary studies and the institutionalization of Black studies as a discipline.

This spring, he interviewed for an academic job in which he was asked to prepare a lesson plan syllabus for a teaching demonstration. Having access to The Book of American Negro Poetry, works of African-American poet Phillis Wheatley, and essays by Alice Walker enabled Patterson to put together materials from the convenience of his apartment on a tight deadline.

Selection of poems by Georgia Douglas Johnson from “The Book of American Negro Poetry” (1922).

“Using the Internet Archive, I could lay hands on basically everything I needed,” Patterson said. “It was an absolutely indispensable resource at the time,” he says.

In the summer of 2019, Patterson had used the Internet Archive in his Fandom research, another area of interest. He’d run across a citation to a website that was no longer available online and was able to track it down through the Wayback Machine. But since the pandemic, Patterson says he’s come to value the Internet Archive for its collection of primary sources.

“Knowledge is for everybody. The more we can do to break down the barriers that make it inaccessible, the better off everyone is,” said Patterson. “The Internet Archive is one great example of how we can do that almost with a click of a button.”

Reading Online Books a “Highlight” for Students During Pandemic

Motivating students to stay engaged with online instruction can take some creativity.

Working at a special education learning center in Los Angeles, Luca Messarra found the promise of choosing a book to read for fun after a lesson kept his 9- to 11-year-old kids going. Although access to physical books was limited during the pandemic, he found digital versions in the Internet Archive that made all the difference.

Educator and graduate student Luca Messarra.

Messarra’s individual work with students moved online in March 2020, in the early days of the pandemic. He continued to help them learn to read and write by doing drills remotely, using online instruction materials provided by the learning center. It did not have access to digital works of fiction, but Messarra says those were the books that most excited the students.

“That was the most fun because it was an opportunity for them to see the fruits of their labor. They could read a book, finally,” says the 25-year-old who lives in Palo Alto. “It’s far more entertaining to read a book than to do drills over and over again. That was the highlight for a lot of students—to finally be able to read a book of their own choosing.”

Since wrapping up his job at the learning center, Messarra has been enrolled in a graduate English program at Stanford University where he is specializing in digital humanities and postcolonialism.

Looking back on his teaching experience during the pandemic, Messarra says he values the resources from the Internet Archive. “It was incredibly helpful and quite essential to boost the morale of students. They were bored and frustrated because of the pandemic,” he says. “For one of my students, it was his goal to read Harry Potter. Once he was able to read it, he was super excited and eventually bought the book because he was having such a good time.”

Back to School with the Internet Archive: Fall 2021

Back in March 2020, teachers were asking themselves a nearly unthinkable question: “How are we going to get books in students’ hands with our schools & libraries closed?” We’ve heard from hundreds of teachers about the challenges they faced in connecting remote learners with books during COVID. Here is their story:

And here we are in August of 2021, with another school year about to start, and educators are still asking this same question. As a nonprofit dedicated to Universal Access to All Knowledge, the Internet Archive provides a number of free resources for parents, students, teachers, and librarians around the world. Check out these tools for remote learning:

Curated Collections

  • Our site is packed with free, kid-friendly learning resources
  • Looking for ways to bring diverse representation into your classroom reading? Find books that support the LGBT+ community in Open Library.
  • In 2015, ten-year-old Marley Dias set out to increase representation of books in which black girls are the main character with her #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign. Inspired by Marley, we want to support schools to make learning more inclusive. Find more than 300 of the curated titles in our library. 

Lesson Plans

  • Looking for lesson plans? Browse our collection to find detailed notes on hundreds of books and themes this summer, including Gulliver’s Travels and Don Quixote.
  • Do your students struggle with math? Online tutor The Math Sorcerer has put together a list of math books and resources for self-studying, covering a range of topics and abilities. Borrow the books and help your students gain confidence with math.

Tips for Using Our Library

How long can I borrow a book? How many books can I check out at once? Find all the information you need to know about borrowing books from the lending library in our online tutorials and get reading!

Learn More

Follow #LearnWithIA on Twitter throughout the month of August for additional tips & resources!

Why CDL Now? Digital Libraries Past, Present & Future

Register now: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_b4R4ayfzSj2-GIvbpabumA

Libraries have historically been trusted hubs to equalize access to credible information, a crucial role that they should continue to fill in the digital age. However, as more information is born-digital, digitized, or digital-first, libraries must build new policy, legal and public understandings about how advances in technology impact our preservation, community, and collection development practices.

This panel will bring together legal scholars Ariel Katz (University of Toronto) and Argyri Panezi (IE University Madrid/Stanford University) to discuss their work on library digital exhaustion and public service roles for digital libraries. They will be joined by Lisa Radha Weaver, Director of Collections and Program Development at Hamilton Public Library, who will discuss how library services have been transformed by digital delivery and innovation and Kyle Courtney of Library Futures/Harvard University, a lawyer/librarian who wrote the influential Statement on Controlled Digital Lending, signed by over 50 institutions. The panel will be moderated by Lila Bailey of Internet Archive.

August 3 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_b4R4ayfzSj2-GIvbpabumA

Background reading

One Writer on Libraries

Guest post by author Fran Moreland Johns.

Whenever I’ve had a book published I have celebrated every sale. But the biggest cause for celebration – the sale that always made me most proud – was when a library acquired a copy or two. Individuals may purchase a book, shelve it or pass it along to a friend, and thereafter it disappears. Libraries are forever.

Fran Moreland Johns

This is the belief that underscores my enthusiasm for the Internet Archive. While the Atlanta Public Library may one day cull my book to make room for someone else’s, those words I labored over and so treasure, whether anyone else ever treasures them or not, are safe with the Internet Archive. And may it thrive and prosper.

Johns writing cutlines under the rapt gaze of Richmond Times-Dispatch photographers. Disclaimer: Johns quit smoking in 1964.

This is all a very long way from my literary beginnings on a Royal portable typewriter. I wrote for newspapers and magazines – the Richmond Times-Dispatch, USA Today, National Real Estate Investor to cite just a few of the wildly different multiple dozens – from the early 1950s into the technologically bewildering 2020s. Eventually I added an MFA in short fiction to my BA in Art and veered into short stories, with a few tiny publication successes, including Dying unafraid (1999) and Perilous Times: An inside look at abortion before – and after – Roe v Wade (2013). When the internet came along, I tiptoed in via a blog for news aggregate site True/Slant.com which eventually morphed into today’s franjohns.net. With a little luck my short story collection, Marshallville Stories, will be published in 2022; the Internet Archive will get one of the first copies.

I’ve been following the conflict between U.S. publishers and the Internet Archive with some degree of horror and dismay. Publishers, I realize, are in business to make money and thereby stay in business. Do they not want people, as many people as possible, to read the books they publish? After the first flurry of sales (perhaps excluding the blockbuster books that will make big bucks for authors and publishers alike, may they also thrive and prosper) does it not follow that publishers would want their books to enjoy long and successful lives? That, at least, is the hope I believe most authors harbor. I can’t claim to speak for other authors, but this I know is personally true: I write for the joy of writing, and in the hope of being read. I’d be surprised if there were many writers out there who don’t feel the same.

So let’s hear it for libraries. And for the one that’s unique among all others, the Internet Archive.

***

Fran Moreland Johns has been writing (for newspapers, magazines, online sites) since the 1950s, and blogging since she was introduced to the idea via a paid blog for news aggregate site True/Slant in 2009. Her roots are in small town Virginia and her heart is in hometown San Francisco. She currently blogs on Medium.com and www.franjohns.net. You can read Dying unafraid (1999) online through the Internet Archive’s lending library.

Registration Now Open For Two New Workshops on Controlled Digital Lending

In an effort to help more people understand how Controlled Digital Lending works, the Internet Archive is helping coordinate two sessions in July. Both sessions are free, virtual, and open to the public.

Empowering Libraries Through Controlled Digital Lending – July 13

The Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program empowers libraries to lend digital books to patrons using Controlled Digital Lending. Attendees will learn how CDL works, the benefits of the Open Libraries program, and the impact that the program is having for partner libraries and the communities they serve.

Watch video from the event

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Implementation & Integration: CDL for All Libraries – July 14

For the second event in a summer series about the innovative library practice of Controlled Digital Lending, we’ll hear from libraries, consortia, and librarians who are exploring CDL implementations at their institutions and communities with hands on learning around potential and existing solutions. Learn about building institutional CDL policies, user experience for patrons and staff, technological platforms, and how you can get involved with the CDL community. Bring your questions, ideas, and be prepared to dig in!

Co-hosted by Library Futures, Internet Archive, Project Reshare, Open Library Foundation, and CDL Implementers

Watch video from the event

Cooking Up a New Home for 33,000 Culinary and Hospitality Books

Centennial Hall Denver campus photo shoot April 2016. photo: Mike Cohea

Johnson & Wales University started as a business school in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1914, expanding over the years to offer 80 majors on multiple campuses.

In June 2021, declining enrollment led JWU to consolidate, closing its North Miami and Denver locations. This left the future of the university’s library collection at those sites in limbo. To save the collection, JWU Denver donated 33,000 books—primarily from its culinary and hospitality programs—to the Internet Archive to be preserved, digitized and many will be lent digitally.

Merrie Valliant, director of library services at JWU’s campus in Denver, curated the rich collection, encompassing titles dating back to the early 1900s. The hospitality section contains books on all aspects of the hotel and restaurant business including management, leadership, and accounting. There are books on menu planning, food science and nutrition. And the assortment of cookbooks covers global cuisines and novelties, including Balinese and Indonesian food, an Antarctic expedition cookbook from 1945 with recipes for penguins and walruses—and even books on just a single ingredient, such as strawberries.

“We had cookbooks from all countries, all states and every continent. If someone were to look for an interesting recipe of Jamaican jerk or a good creole recipe from Louisiana, they would be able to find it,” Valliant said.

“The Internet Archive is going to keep it alive…It’s truly the library of the future…”

Merrie Valliant, director of library services, JWU Denver

With JWU’s 12,000 students only attending classes now in Providence, Rhode Island, and Charlotte, North Carolina, the library needed to downsize, and donating was the best option, Valiant said. In addition to the hospitality books, the donation included books on sports and event management, as well as books on criminal justice, business, law, history and fashion design.

The collection is clearly a treasure, said Liz Rosenberg, manager of donations for the Internet Archive.

“Merrie had been the librarian caring for these books for the past 20 years and she shared her hope that more students might be able to continue being inspired by the collection,” Rosenberg said. “Her dedication to the library at the Johnson and Wales Denver campus and her students was what got the Internet Archive so excited about preserving this great collection. We are pleased it can live on digitally.”

Pallets of books from JWU Denver staged for transport.

In May, Valliant, student workers, and volunteers helped fill more than 900 boxes with books from the Denver library. The 45 pallets were transported to the Internet Archive where they will be preserved and queued for scanning. “I had cataloged and touched almost every book on the shelf,” Valliant said. “It really was difficult to watch it being driven away. It felt like a family saying goodbye to a distinct part of their life.”

Yet, the books will have a future audience for years to come.

“The Internet Archive is going to keep it alive,” Valliant said. “It’s truly the library of the future where you can access it 24/7/365 when you need it.  I think it’s wonderful that we’ve been able to contribute to that collection of information.”

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If you have a collection that you would like to make available to all, the Internet Archive would be happy to preserve and digitize your materials:

  • Check out our help center article for more information about donating physical items to the Internet Archive.
  • Watch the recent webinar about our physical donations program.

Behind the Curtain of the Hamilton Public Library Theater Book Donation

Ever wonder what it looked like inside the old concert halls of London? Curious to learn about the English folk tradition of mummering, where people dress up in disguise and perform in plays in their neighborhoods?

Soon readers all over the world will be able to dive in and learn more once nearly 1,000 books about theater history from the 18th and 19th centuries are online. The collection was recently donated by the Hamilton Public Library (HPL) in Ontario to the Internet Archive for digitization.

“Through our partnership, we are just so appreciative that the Internet Archive is able to make the collection available to the world 24/7,” said Lisa Weaver, director of collections and program development at HPL.

The rich array of books was given to HPL in 1984 by a local university drama professor who was interested in the cultural history of the theater. The collection includes books on the technical details of theater, such as lighting and staging, different actors and playwrights in the theatre community, as well as architecture of various types of British and American theaters.

Because some of the donated books were written by the donor, the availability of the entire collection allows interested researchers to follow the evolution of an author’s perspective on a subject. “The ability to trace the history of thought and ideas is a powerful tool,” said Ryan Johnston, archivist of local history and archives at HPL. “This helps achieve one of the original promises of the Internet, namely as a vehicle for democratizing thought—making knowledge as broadly accessible as possible by removing many of the geographical and physical barriers.”

“The pandemic has taught me that people are really looking for material to be as easily accessible as possible.”

Ryan Johnston, archivist, Hamilton Public Library

The Canadian library was doing a standard periodic review of its holdings, when it was determined the collection of American and British material did not fit within the public library’s mandate, which focuses primarily on works from the Hamilton area. The library contacted several university libraries and theater archives to find a new home for the collection, but ultimately decided the Internet Archive would provide access to the broadest audience.

“In the stewardship of collections, it’s a fine balance between what you can accept and what you can realistically store,” Johnston said. For HPL, it made more sense to donate to the Internet Archive, which could take a physical copy of a book, digitize it, and put it online for interested readers no matter their location. “This way we are doing both good collections management and also increasing accessibility,” he said.

HPL donated more than 70 boxes of books on two pallets, which were transported by the Internet Archive to its physical archive facilities. After the books are digitized, the print copies will be put in long-term storage out of circulation, and the digital books will be made available through controlled digital lending. The books cover a wide variety of topics including theater construction, history of traveling troupes, theater lighting in the age of gas, the art of scenic design and other aspects of the evolution of the theater. 

Johnston said he expects the books will appeal to anyone with an interest in the theater, including historians, researchers and the general public.  Although there was a time when physically holding everything was the way to ensure long term preservation, Johnston encourages others to look at the opportunity of partnering with the Internet Archive to digitize materials.

“It’s important that any institution—whether that’s a library, archive or museum—do a reappraisal of their collection and take a hard look at their options,” Johnston said. “If anything, the pandemic has taught me that people are really looking for material to be as easily accessible as possible. The more memory institutions can do that, the better.”

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If you have a collection that you would like to make available to all, the Internet Archive would be happy to preserve and digitize your materials:

  • Check out our help center article for more information about donating physical items to the Internet Archive.
  • Register now for our upcoming webinar about our physical donations program – May 27, 2021 @ 1pm ET