Category Archives: Lending Books

Library as Laboratory Recap: Curating the African Folktales in the Internet Archive’s Collection

Laura Gibbs and Helen Nde share a passion for African folktales. They are both active researchers and bloggers on the subject who rely on the Internet Archive’s extensive collection in their work.

In the third of a series of webinars highlighting how researchers in the humanities use the Internet Archive, Gibbs and Nde spoke on March 30 about how they use the online library and contribute to its resources.

Watch now:

Gibbs was teaching at the University of Oklahoma in the spring of 2020 when the campus library shut down due to the pandemic. “That’s when I learned about controlled digital lending at the Internet Archive and that changed everything for me. I hadn’t realized how extensive the materials were,” said Gibbs, who was trained as a folklorist. She retired last May and began a project of cross-referencing her bookshelves of African and African-American folktales to see how many were available at the Internet Archive. Being able to check out one digital title at a time through controlled digital lending (CDL) opened up new possibilities for her research. 

“It was just mind boggling to me and so exciting,” she said of discovering the online library. “I want to be a provocation to get other people to go read, do their own writing and thinking from books that we can all access. That’s what the Internet Archive has miraculously done.”

A Reader’s Guide to African Folktales at the Internet Archive by Laura Gibbs. Now available.

Gibbs said it has been very helpful to use the search function using the title of a book, name of an illustrator or some other kind of detail. With an account, the user can see the search results and borrow the digital book through CDL. “It’s all super easy to do. And if you’re like me and weren’t aware of the amazing resources available through controlled digital lending, now is the time to create your account at the Internet Archive,” Gibbs said. 

Every day, Gibbs blogs about a different book and rewrites a 100-word “tiny-tale” synopsis. In less than a year, she compiled A Reader’s Guide to African Folktales at the Internet Archive, a curated bibliography of hundreds of folktale books that she has shared with the public through the Internet Archive. Some are in the public domain, but many are later works and only available for lending one copy at a time through CDL. 

In her work, Nde explores mythological folklore from the African continent and is dedicated to preserving the storyteller traditions of African peoples, which is largely oral culture. Nde maintains the Mythological Africans website where she hosts storytelling sessions, modern lectures, and posts essays.

“[The Internet Archive] is an amazing resource of information online, which is readily available, and really goes to dispel the notion that there is no uniformity of folklore from the African continent,” Nde said. “Through Mythological Africans, I am able to share these stories and make these cultures come alive as much as possible.”

As an immigrant in the United States from Cameroon, Nde began to research the topic of African folklore because she was curious about exploring her background and identity. She said she found a community and a creative outlet for examining storytelling, poetry, dance and folktales. Nde said examining Gibb’s works gave her an opportunity to reconnect with some of the favorite books from her childhood. She’s also discovered reference books through the Internet Archive collection that have been helpful. Nde is active on social media (Twitter.com/mythicafricans) and has a YouTube channel on African mythology. She recently collaborated on a project with PBS highlighting the folklore behind an evil entity called the Adze, which can take the form of a firefly. 

The presenters said when citing material from the Internet Archive, not only can they link to a source, a blog or an academic article, they can link to the specific page number in that source. This gives credit to the author and also access to that story for anybody who wants to read it for themselves.

The next webinar in the series, Television as Data: Opening TV News for Deep Analysis and New Forms of Interactive Search, on April 13 will feature Roger MacDonald, Founder of the TV News Archive and Kalev Leetaru, Data Scientist at GDELT. Register now.

Meet the Librarians: Lisa Seaberg, Patron Services & Open Library

To celebrate National Library Week 2022, we are taking readers behind the scenes to Meet the Librarians who work at the Internet Archive and in associated programs.


Like any good librarian, Lisa Seaberg of the Internet Archive’s patron services team is prepared to answer the question: Can you recommend a book? In fact, Seaberg has 1,729 suggestions. She has organized what she wants to read in a publicly available list on Open Library.

Lisa Seaberg

“I’ve had a lifelong interest in reading and books,” said Seaberg, who worked as an assistant in her high school library in Milford, Connecticut. It was there that a mentoring librarian helped shape her taste in reading and introduced her to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. 

Seaberg went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in library science from Southern Connecticut State University in 1996. She learned about the book publishing industry, practical skills of cataloguing, Boolean searching, and managing databases. She later earned a master’s degree in digital media from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

In 2017, Seaberg began to volunteer with Open Library and was hired to join the Internet Archive staff in 2020 to work for patron services. Based in Amsterdam, she responds to email requests to connect users with resources and helps coordinate a team of more than 200 volunteers to fix metadata issues. Seaberg works to maintain the digital collection, identify duplicates, and make sure the record represents the available books. She also fulfills interlibrary loan requests, as part of the Internet Archive’s new ILL service.

“It’s rewarding to make something discoverable.”

Lisa Seaberg, Patron Services & Open Library

Prior joining the Internet Archive, Seaberg worked at Gateway Computers in the late 90s where she gained useful technology experience. She later worked in communications for a hospital, managing its website. Those positions provided her with a sense of information architecture, she said, that she has applied to her work at the Internet Archive.

Lisa Seaberg

Seaberg said she is fascinated by everything that the Internet Archive provides to the public. In her job, she enjoys working with the book metadata. “It’s rewarding to make something discoverable,” she said. If people have an author they like, Seaberg tries to make sure there are subject headings and tags to make it easier for them to find related materials of interest. 

Recently, Seaberg said, it’s been meaningful to be involved in efforts to provide access to books being challenged by local school districts because of controversial content. She’s helped assemble digital collections of titles being targeted to ensure continuous access should an entity decide to ban them. 

When Seaberg is not working, she loves to play board games—gravitating to hobbyist, European games such as the Gaia Project, the complex, economy-building game that takes place in space. Her other main hobby is book hunting at charity shops and openbare boekenkastjes (free libraries) in and around her home in Amsterdam. Since Seaberg has limited shelf space, she sticks to her rule of only buying books that are on her Open Library Want To Read list.  

Among her favorite projects when it comes to the Internet Archive collection: Organizing the profiles of individual authors to make sure their works are all consolidated and easy to find for patrons. 

New additions to the Internet Archive for March 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 from our patrons: 

Books – 60,379 New items in March

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 – 93,954 New Items in March

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. Explore.

LibriVox Audiobooks – 122 New Items in March

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. Explore.

78 RPMs and Cylinder Recordings – 7,423 New Items in March

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

Live Music Archive – 1,098 New Items in March

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). Explore.

Netlabels186 New Items in March

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. Explore.

Movies – 25 New Items in March

Watch feature films, classic shorts, documentaries, propaganda, movie trailers, and more! Explore.

What’s New in February 2022

Here are some of the notable new additions to the Internet Archive from February 2022. (Logging in might be required to borrow certain items.)

Notable new collections: 

We’ve been reorganizing some of the items uploaded by our users, and these collections of magazines struck us as particularly interesting:

Books 45,073

This month we’ve added books in more than 20 languages. Here are a few good ones to start with:

Audio Archive 73,305

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 118

Founded in 2005, Librivox is a community of volunteers from all over the world who record audio versions of public domain texts: poetry, short stories, whole books, even dramatic works, in many different languages.

78 RPMs and Cylinder Recordings 8,840

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

Live Music Archive 892

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.

Netlabels 263

The Netlabels collection hosts complete, freely downloadable/streamable, often Creative Commons-licensed catalogs of virtual record labels.

Internet Arcade 5

The Internet Arcade is a web-based library of arcade (coin-operated) video games from the 1970s through to the 1990s, emulated in JSMAME, part of the JSMESS software package. Containing hundreds of games ranging through many different genres and styles, the Arcade provides research, comparison, and entertainment in the realm of the Video Game Arcade.

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.