Category Archives: Lending Books

Independent Publisher Drives Innovation, Sells eBooks to Internet Archive

Publisher of 11:11 Press says it sells—rather than licenses—books to libraries for online lending to reach a broad audience.

The goal of 11:11 Press is to have its books in every library in the world, according to its founder and publisher, Andrew Wilt.

Andrew Wilt, 11:11 Press

“We are big supporters of libraries because they allow equal access to knowledge and preserve culture,” said Wilt, whose independent press based in Minneapolis sells its books at a discount to nonprofits. “From a publishing standpoint, our authors care about being read so we want to get our books to as many people as possible.”

The Internet Archive recently bought the entire catalog of books from 11:11 Press and made them available online for controlled digital lending to one person at a time.  

“Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would not want to have their books in a library, especially the Internet Archive, which is more relevant now than it has been any other time,” Wilt said. “It used to be the library of the future. But in our era of remote learning and people working from home, the Internet Archive is the library of the present. You don’t have to go into an actual physical building. It’s available for anyone with an internet connection. It’s probably the most relevant lending institution at the moment.”

“[Internet Archive] used to be the library of the future. But in our era of remote learning and people working from home, the Internet Archive is the library of the present.”

Andrew Wilt, editor, 11:11 Press

In business for four years, 11:11 Press publishes an eclectic mix of titles that Wilt describes as “disruptive literature.” Its authors push the boundaries. Some books have a very heavy, theoretical and academic focus while others are about everyday working people. There are books of poetry, short stories, novels, and hybrid work. The aim is to give exposure to underrepresented voices and offer an alternative from what is produced by mainstream publishers.

“We’re kind of this lighthouse trying to find those people who are actively looking for something that’s new and exciting,” said Wilt.

From the 11:11 Press Catalog

In one of the 11:11 Press “theory fiction” titles, Zer000 Excess, images are “glitching out” within the text, leading the reader to consider what meaning is being created. Jake Reber wrote the book using Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 – the only version of the software with identifiable software features known to produce these “glitches.” Authors like Reber intentionally use these embedded software tools incorrectly in order to get distortion. “Like the early punk bands who put fuzz in their music, we’re trying to add that distortion in the work,” said Wilt.

Human Tetris merges digital dating in an all-too-honest newspaper style of queer dating profiles. It was written as a collaboration between two different voices building a lattice of interlocking online identities by Vi Khi Nao and Ali Raz.

The publisher features “dangerous writing,” which uses fiction as the buffer to draw on personal experience. For authors in this genre, fiction is the lie that tells the truth. “We want to encourage writers to go to those uncharted territories of the self. What you find might be hard to look at, but if you pull back the layers, there’s something unique and beautiful there.” Wilt said.

Jinnwoo (Ben Webb) is a writer, musician, visual artist, and author of the book Little Hollywood published by 11:11 Press. It consists of B-grade movie scripts with paper doll cut outs. The idea is to engage the reader by having them cut out the dolls and use the scripts. “Going to those dark places with honesty encourages the reader to be more mindful, more present, which  leads to more empathy,” Wilt said.

Did you know? Thanks to the innovative partnership between the Internet Archive and Better World Books—our favorite online bookstore—patrons who browse to the 11:11 Press books at archive.org have a direct link to purchase new copies of the books in print via Better World Books.

“Small presses drive innovation.”

In its next catalog, 11:11 Press will be coming out with a 520-page Illustrated Old Testament and corresponding painting. This 9-by-12-inch book, which will sell for $150, is too religious for some and too secular for others, making it a perfect product for a small press, Wilt said. Another upcoming book will be a compilation of short stories by the late Peter Christopher who helped start the dangerous writing movement.

As a small press, Wilt said the focus isn’t to write with marketing in mind but rather for authors to write the stories only they can tell. The hope is for 11:11 Press to create something greater to help benefit society and get people to think in a different way. “Reading authors who courageously face their lives, their past, their future, encourages us, the readers, to do the same,” he said.

Wilt said he anticipates other independent publishers will follow suit in selling their works to the Internet Archive. “Small presses drive innovation. This is where experimentation occurs,” he said. “Our top priority is sharing knowledge.”

New additions to the Internet Archive for January 2022

Many items are added to the Internet Archive’s collections every month, by us and by our patrons. Here’s a round up of some of the new media you might want to check out. Logging in might be required to  borrow certain items. 

Notable new collections: 

Books 40,695

This month we’ve added books on varied subjects in more than 20 languages. Click through to explore, but here are a few interesting items to start with:

Audio Archive 79,099

The audio archive contains recordings ranging from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry readings, to original music uploaded by our users.

The LibriVox Free Audiobook Collection 98

Founded in 2005, Librivox is a community of volunteers from all over the world who record audiobooks of public domain texts in many different languages.

 

78 RPMs and Cylinder Recordings 6,849

The Great 78 Project! Listen to this collection of 78rpm records, cylinder recordings, and other recordings from the early 20th century.

Live Music Archive 799

The Live Music Archive is a community committed to providing the highest quality live concerts in a lossless, downloadable format, along with the convenience of on-demand streaming (all with artist permission).

Netlabels 486

This collection hosts complete, freely downloadable/streamable, often Creative Commons-licensed catalogs of ‘virtual record labels’. These ‘netlabels’ are non-profit, community-built entities dedicated to providing high quality, non-commercial, freely distributable MP3/OGG-format music for online download in a multitude of genres.

International patrons speak out: “Access to knowledge shouldn’t be for the rich and privileged.”

Last fall, we invited our patrons to share how you use the Internet Archive. The response was overwhelming, and gave us exactly the kinds of testimonials and messages of support we were hoping to gather.

As we worked through the responses, we were struck by the number of patrons from all over the world who use our collection. Here now, we’d like to share some of the powerful stories we received from our international users.

If you haven’t already done so, please share your story.

Editorial note: Statements have been edited for clarity.


Lisa M., Educator, England – “Internet Archive helped me help a student! I have students in one class that attend from around the globe. One student was unable to find the required texts and our university did not have digital copies that could be lent. If she were to order the book – not carried in any local stores – it could take up to 3 months for them to arrive, long after the course was over!”

Claudia G., Researcher, Romania – “Even before the pandemic, depending on the topic of my essay and thesis, it was difficult to find books on certain topics in local libraries or bookstores…Access to knowledge shouldn’t be for the rich and privileged.”

Ana S., Communications assistant, Brazil – “I borrowed a book about Stephen Sondheim. Sondheim’s story and body of work is definitely an inspiration for me as someone always trying to learn ways to exercise my creativity. I just wanted to browse one section, and it was really amazing. I’m really thankful you had it available, for anyone in the world, and the borrowing process was really easy to follow through.”

Mike D., Librarian, New Zealand – “I’m a Digital Librarian in a public library in the small town of Hokitika, New Zealand, whose job is making local history more accessible to the community – many of the New Zealand history works in our public library collection are rare or reference-only. It turns out many works of New Zealand history have been digitised by the Internet Archive from US collections”

Callum H., Yard operative, Scotland – “As a non-academic with interests in literature, history, and philosophy, the IA gives me access to books I can’t otherwise afford or access.”

Yuri L., Educator, Brazil – “I spent months of 2020 bed-ridden, and was able to view items from your digitized collection. I would not have been able to go to any physical place for my books, and the titles I was looking for were sometimes available only on the Internet Archive. There are no other means for me, in my part of South America, to have access to limited-circulation ancient newspapers of other continents without digitizing and digital libraries. Without the Internet Archive and other libraries like it, I would have no alternatives.”

Simay K., Researcher, Turkey – “Living in a developing country with so many political and economic turmoils, I believe that the Internet Archive provides a huge service and a unique platform for dissolving the injustice and inequality of [access] to knowledge between disadvantaged countries and classes.”

Lydia S., Student, Canada – “I’ve used materials from the Internet Archive many times throughout my time as an undergrad studying history…There are many primary and secondary sources on the IA that I was unable to find anywhere else online or in physical copies through my university’s library. Many of the books I’ve accessed through the IA have been out of print for many years, so it’s incredibly helpful to have [access] to titles that would otherwise be nearly impossible to track down.“

Kim C., Librarian, Canada – “I use the materials on the Internet Archive often on a personal and a professional level. I have been able to help patrons access books that we have not been able to procure for them in other ways, for reference material for every school level from primary to masters degree research. I have used the collection on many occasions to access local history or genealogical material unavailable elsewhere.”

Richard G., Poet, Canada – Richard used books within the Internet Archive’s library, “to reference other author’s prose and poetry for quotations and references.”

Chloe J., Student, Canada – “It has given me access to material that I would not otherwise have access to.”

Shehroze A., Educator, Pakistan – “I am surprised that books pertaining to learning the Urdu language are available on archive.org, and those which were used for preparation in the civil services. These books are just not available in the country anymore and are immeasurably useful as far as the history of the colonized area is concerned. These are not published anymore, and finding a copy is exceedingly rare. This is why archive.org is important and we should endorse and support it.”

Stephen C., Graduate student, Canada – “The Internet Archive has been an invaluable resource for a research project I am involved in. We have been able to access numerous historical travel narratives that are essential for our project. We have been able to view books that we could not access in archives due to travel restrictions and lending policies during the pandemic.”

Simon H., Printing press operator, Switzerland – “I often find interest in old and niche books, sometimes from parts of the world far away from me. In those cases, I have two options for accessing such a book:
1.   I order a physical copy of the work and let it ship to my home. That is incredibly expensive, harmful to the environment and occasionally damaging to an old and fragile book, conserved for such a long time with care and passion.
2.   I’m lucky enough to find a digital reproduction of a work, which can be accessed for free and “shipped” eco-friendly through wires and antennas.
The difference between those two possibilities is so pronounced, that the latter almost seems like an utopian fairy tale. But it is not! It is 21st century’s technology at work.”

2021 Empowering Libraries Year in Review

This year the Internet Archive continued to reach our patrons, supporters, and library partners through virtual events and programming. As we close out 2021, let’s look back at some of the highlights of the year:

Events

The video that captivated the internet

Milestones

Policy

Donations

  • The Internet Archive has continued its donations program, receiving media that libraries can no longer house for preservation and digitization. Learn more about the donations program through an informational webinar.
  • The Internet Archive is now the preservation home of the Michelson Cinema Research Library, the collection curated by famed cinema librarian and researcher Lillian Michelson.
  • Libraries struggle to find a home for collections that no longer fit their collection development priorities. That was the case with Hamilton Public Library in Ontario, which donated a fantastic collection of American and British theater books for preservation and digitization.
  • As education continues to use and explore hybrid learning models, colleges and universities are reviewing their physical collections and considering how best to serve their students. Some schools, like Bay State College, are making a full move to digital.

Book talks

  • Brewster Kahle sat down with authors Deanna Marcum and Roger C. Schonfeld for a discussion of the history of library digitization described in their book, Along Came Google.
  • Catherine Stihler, CEO of Creative Commons, talked with author Peter B. Kaufman about his book, The New Enlightenment.
  • Historian and author Abby Smith Rumsey discussed the history of intentional knowledge destruction with librarian Richard Ovenden, as featured in his book, Burning the Books.
  • Internet Archive’s Wendy Hanamura talked with author Joanne McNeil (Lurking) and technologist/artist Darius Kazemi about the rise of Google in the 1990s and the impact on libraries and society in Why Trust a Corporation to do a Library’s Job?

Boston Phoenix Rises Again With New Online Access

For more than 40 years, The Boston Phoenix was the city’s largest alternative weekly in covering local politics, arts, and culture.

The Boston Phoenix, Volume 2, Issue 44 – October 30, 1973

“It was really a pretty legendary paper. The style of the writing and the quality of writers were nationally known,” said Carly Carioli, who started at the newspaper as an intern in 1993 and became its last editor-in-chief.

With the advent of online advertising, it struggled like many independent newspapers to compete. In 2013, the Phoenix folded.

After the publication shut down, owner Stephen Mindich wanted the public to be able to access back issues of the Phoenix. The complete run of the newspaper from 1973 to 2013 was donated to Northeastern University’s special collections. The family signed copyright over the university. 

Librarians led a crowdsourcing project to create a digital index of all the articles and authors, which was helpful for historians and others in their research, said Giordana Mecagni, head of special collections and university archivist. Northeastern had inquired about digitizing the collection, but it was cost prohibitive. 

As it turns out, the Internet Archive owned the master microfilm for the Phoenix and it put the full collection online in a separate collection: The Boston Phoenix 1973-2013. Initially, the back issues were only available for one patron to check out at a time through Controlled Digital Lending. Once Northeastern learned about the digitized collection, it extended rights to the Archive to allow the Phoenix to be downloaded without controls.

Read The Boston Phoenix at the Internet Archive

“All of a sudden it was free to the public. It was wonderful,” Mecagni said. “We get tons and tons of research requests for various  aspects of the Phoenix, so having it available online for free for people to download is a huge help for us.” 

Inquiries range from someone trying to track down a classified ad through which they met their spouse, or an individual looking up an article about a band. The paper was a leader in writing groundbreaking stories about the LGBTQ community, the AIDS crisis, race and the Vietnam War—often issues not covered in the mainstream press. “Making that coverage public is adding an immense amount to the historical record that would not be there otherwise,” said Carioli. He said he appreciates the preservation and easy access to back issues, as do other journalists, researchers and academics.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Carioli of the Internet Archive’s digitization of the newspaper. “The Phoenix was invaluable in its own time, and I think it will be invaluable for a new generation who are just discovering it now. It was a labor of love then and the fact that it’s online now is huge for Boston, but also for anyone who’s interested in independent media and culture.”

Open Library Offers New Possibilities for Musician Who is Blind

Matthew Shifrin is a musician, graduate school student, podcaster, rock climber, and comic book fan. The 24-year-old who lives in Newton, Massachusetts, is also blind. When he wants a book for a research paper or just leisure reading, he often needs more than what a campus library or local store can offer.

Matthew Shifrin. Photo credit: Webb Chappell.

Shifrin has relied on Open Library to borrow digital books in formats that he can download for reading on his computer, which has a Braille display. As part of the Internet Archive’s program for users with print disabilities, he can skip waitlists for the ebook collection and download protected EPUBs and PDFs. 

“The process is simple and efficient,” says Shifrin. “The Internet Archive has a huge amount of accessible books—Italian grammar books, children’s poetry—the most random things. It’s the best because you never know what you will come across. You can search for something specific, but also just wander the virtual shelves.”

Shifrin is in his first year of graduate school studying classical singing at the New England Conservatory, where he also got his undergraduate degree in music. Although audiobooks are useful, he prefers to read a book with his Braille computer because it’s faster and he can go at his own pace. 

The Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) books are in a special encrypted format that makes them easy to navigate. Shifrin also uses library websites designed for blind people such as Bookshare and National Library Service for the Blind, but often finds older or niche music books through the Internet Archive. 

For instance, he was recently able to download On the Track: A Guide to Contemporary Film Scoring and The History of Western Music, which were useful in writing an essay on music criticism. He was also able to enjoy a book of poetry by David McCourt that he says brought back “flickers of his childhood.” In addition to books, Shifrin uses the Archives’ wealth of videos, movies, and music in the public domain from all around the world. 

Shifrin is currently writing a one-man musical and his creative outlets have included podcasting and essay writing. He recently produced the Blind Guy Travels podcast on PRX’s Radiotopia and had an article in the Boston Globe about how he is using technology to decipher facial expressions. 

In all of his work, Shifrin said he values the Internet Archive’s collection: “It’s been a great resource for all the books and all the content that I couldn’t find in other places.”


Learn more about the Internet Archive’s program for patrons with print disabilities.

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.”

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.

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.”

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