Category Archives: Lending Books

Fighting Misinformation Online

On Tuesday, the Internet Archive joined Public Knowledge, the Wikimedia Foundation and the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic from Berkeley Law to brief the Congressional Internet Caucus on efforts to combat misinformation online. Misinformation is a complex issue but one of the root causes is a lack of easy, reliable ways for Internet users to distinguish good information from bad, or authoritative sources from propaganda. The panel highlighted our recent work to weave books into Wikipedia articles, giving users the ability to dig deeper and fact check assertions in just one click.

We would like to thank the Congressional Internet Caucus Academy and Representative Anna Eshoo for sponsoring this conversation.

Weaving Books into the Web—Starting with Wikipedia

[announcement video, Wired]

The Internet Archive has transformed 130,000 references to books in Wikipedia into live links to 50,000 digitized Internet Archive books in several Wikipedia language editions including English, Greek, and Arabic. And we are just getting started. By working with Wikipedia communities and scanning more books, both users and robots will link many more book references directly into Internet Archive books. In these cases, diving deeper into a subject will be a single click.

Moriel Schottlender, Senior Software Engineer, Wikimedia Foundation, speech announcing this program

“I want this,” said Brewster Kahle’s neighbor Carmen Steele, age 15, “at school I am allowed to start with Wikipedia, but I need to quote the original books. This allows me to do this even in the middle of the night.”

For example, the Wikipedia article on Martin Luther King, Jr cites the book To Redeem the Soul of America, by Adam Fairclough. That citation now links directly to page 299 inside the digital version of the book provided by the Internet Archive. There are 66 cited and linked books on that article alone. 

In the Martin Luther King, Jr. article of Wikipedia, page references can now take you directly to the book.

Readers can see a couple of pages to preview the book and, if they want to read further, they can borrow the digital copy using Controlled Digital Lending in a way that’s analogous to how they borrow physical books from their local library.

“What has been written in books over many centuries is critical to informing a generation of digital learners,” said Brewster Kahle, Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. “We hope to connect readers with books by weaving books into the fabric of the web itself, starting with Wikipedia.”

You can help accelerate these efforts by sponsoring books or funding the effort. It costs the Internet Archive about $20 to digitize and preserve a physical book in order to bring it to Internet readers. The goal is to bring another 4 million important books online over the next several years.  Please donate or contact us to help with this project.

From a presentation on October 23, 2019 by Moriel Schottlender, Tech lead at the Wikimedia Foundation.

“Together we can achieve Universal Access to All Knowledge,” said Mark Graham, Director of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. “One linked book, paper, web page, news article, music file, video and image at a time.”


Unlocking the Potential for Every High School Library: 2019 Internet Archive Hero Award

Announced today, Phillips Academy has received the Hero Award from the Internet Archive for its leadership in adopting controlled digital lending for school libraries. The Hero Award is presented annually to an organization that exhibits leadership in making its holdings available to digital learners all over the world, and when Phillips Academy was renovating its Oliver Wendell Holmes Library, librarian Michael Barker wanted to update more than the physical space. This was also an opportunity to bring the private preparatory high school up to speed digitally – and in the process, share its vast book collection with others.

Barker, Director of Academy Research, Information and Library Services, has embraced Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), where a library digitizes a book it owns and lends out one secured digital version to one user at a time. In this case, the Andover, Massachusetts school owns 80,000 books.

Michael Barker

“With the closure of so many high school libraries, this allows us to share the collection we’ve built up over 100 years with all other high schools,” Barker said. “I can’t think of any better way the library could contribute its private resources for a public purpose.”

Phillips, which has roughly 1,100 students in grades 9-12, has been active in the Digital Public Library of America. It has already digitized about 4,000 of its titles published prior to 1923.


With all the books already boxed up for the renovation, the school’s decision to expand its CDL project was clear: “There would never be a better time than now,” Barker said. This summer it shipped most of the remaining volumes to be digitized by Internet Archive at its scanning facility in the Philippines.

Sharing the cost of scanning and shipping with Internet Archive was critical to the digitization process happening, said Barker. The books are expected back early in 2020 and will be placed back on library shelves over spring break.

Rather than most books being on display, the renovated Phillips library includes more open space for collaboration. It was last updated in 1987 and was not wired for a world that included the Internet. Renovations began in early 2018 and the newly updated facility opened to students this fall.

Originally designed like a “book fortress,” Barker said the center of the library now has room for students to study together while some books are on shelves around the periphery. Most books are now in the attic and basement where they can be called up to lending.

“One local benefit of CDL is that students don’t necessarily need to call the book from the attic. With a digital version there is no delay in getting the book,” Barker said.

As Barker awaits the return of the book collection from the Philippines, he is tracking the shipment (which went on two separate ships and was insured). In the meantime, Phillips is preparing to share the news of its vast collection becoming open to students everywhere. Barker is excited to offer the school’s resources openly and said it’s particularly timely as school library budgets are being cut, making it hard for libraries to fulfill their mission.

“The truth of the matter is that some schools don’t have libraries anymore,” Barker said. “If other schools like us got involved in CDL in the same way and shared their copies, many public schools would not have to worry about their students having access to collections in the same way they might be doing now. I encourage others to explore it and jump in. It seems like it can only get stronger the more libraries that join.”

NOTE: Come meet Mike Barker and learn more about Phillips Academy when he speaks at Internet Archive’s World Night Market, Wednesday 10/23 from 5-10 PM.  Tickets available here.

Everyone Deserves to Learn

The nation’s K-12 school libraries are hurting. Although the student population is rising in many districts, the number of librarians and media specialists dropped by nearly 20 percent from 2000 to 2015. Budgets are being reduced and some schools are no longer able to afford their school librarians, or are simply closing their libraries altogether. The cuts are particularly deep in underserved communities.

Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), the digital equivalent of traditional library lending, holds the promise of broadening access to knowledge for public school libraries, according to Lisa Petrides, PhD, founder of the non-profit Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education. ISKME’s focus is to provide research, tools, and training to help democratize access to education through the practice of continuous learning and collaboration. Research has shown that well-resourced libraries matter, she noted.

Lisa Petrides

“When students don’t have access to school libraries, it impacts learning outcomes. It’s a dire situation in many districts across the country,” said Petrides. “Libraries and the librarians that serve them are intricately connected to pedagogy and curriculum, and are necessary to reinforce the basic tenets of learning, including problem-solving, curiosity, and exposure to new ways of thinking. The school library has been and continues to be a critical link for teaching and learning in our K-12 schools.”

In partnership with Internet Archive, Petrides has amassed a team of librarian partners to create the Universal School Library, a collection of digitized books that can serve as a lending library for those without access to a physical school library. A small grant is funding teams of school librarians working to curate 15,000 book titles. It’s a labor-intensive process selecting fiction and non-fiction titles for the core collection, while ensuring diverse viewpoints and voices are represented and included. A beta version of the  Universal School Library is now online at https://archive.org/details/uslprototype, and using CDL, the project team will work with states, districts, and schools to fill in where there are gaps. When the Universal School Library is officially launched in 2020, it will encompass all genres and reading levels, and across cultural, college, and career literacy.

“This has the potential to make a high-quality curated collection available for any student,” Petrides said. “It really is a democratization issue. CDL can be transformative for equal access to education in this country.”

NOTE: Come meet Lisa Petrides and learn more about the Universal School Library when she speaks at Internet Archive’s World Night Market, Wednesday 10/23 from 5-10 PM.  Tickets available here.

Closing the Access Gap in Rural Maryland

In southern Maryland, St. Mary’s County is 54 miles long and there are only three libraries.

“We have people living at one end who might be 25 miles away from a branch,” said Michael Blackwell, Director of the St. Mary’s County Library that operates in the small communities of Leonardtown, Charlotte Hall and Lexington Park.

Michael Blackwell

Yet, many of its rural and suburban residents do have cell phones and tablets. “People in this area are hungry for digital content. In surveys, they say there is not enough. Library digital use is growing, unlike library print use, which is very flat,” said Blackwell. “How to keep up with demand is a real challenge for us.”

That’s why Blackwell sees great promise in expanding the county’s digital offerings through Controlled Digital Lending, the digital equivalent of traditional library lending. CDL opens up access to rural patrons who may not otherwise be able to use the library because of transportation or other barriers. There are children whose parents work three jobs who need books for homework. There are shift workers who work during library hours. There are those for whom a physical trip to the library is simply not possible.

“I’m interested in CDL because a library the size of mine doesn’t have a lot of money,” Blackwell said. “By simply changing the format, we are getting the most out of the books we’ve already paid for. We are not trying to pick John Grisham’s pocket.”

Blackwell also notes that there are many works – including Pulitzer Prize winning books –
that publishers do not make available to libraries in digital form. This is an issue that is beyond rural access, it’s about no one having access at all to books that publishers choose not to provide digitally. For example, James Michener’s “Tales of the South Pacific,” is not available to libraries in e-book form through the major vendors. It is of interest as a story but also for revealing attitudes about human relations at the time of World War II. If a library wanted to circulate in e-book form, CDL would be the only option. It is, of course, the source for the musical, “South Pacific.”

Now, the St. Mary’s library has about 300,000 titles, including about 30,000 digital holdings. The library’s budget is about $3.8 million a year and the small funding increases usually go to salaries and health insurance, not leaving much for new acquisitions.

With high interest in digital content, CDL is being embraced in rural Maryland.

“We are working with the Internet Archive on a pilot to launch CDL titles through the Library Simplified, or ‘SimplyE,’ app,” added Blackwell. “A state grant is allowing us to deploy the app. Our patrons will be able to get all our e-book content, CDL and vendor-licensed, in one place. We’ll add quality content we can’t get in any other way at no cost other than storing our relevant print copies, ultimately expanding our offerings by thousands of titles. Our book hungry patrons will be much more likely to find a great title they want while they wait for the best sellers we can license.”

Protecting Unique Canadiana Works

Technology is enabling libraries in Canada to promote diversity, safeguard historic documents, and expand access — all while helping to save the planet.

The Hamilton Public Library in the Canadian province of Ontario has nearly two dozen branches. Providing digital content to users in geographically remote areas is one of many reasons that the library has recently embraced Controlled Digital Lending, the digital equivalent of traditional library lending.

Paul Takala,
Hamilton Public Library

“It’s such an environmentally friendly, cost effective way of making titles available,” said Paul Takala, CEO/Chief Librarian of the library. “If we digitize it, somebody doesn’t have to go to the library to get it and we don’t have to ship books around. It just makes a lot of sense.”

The library also has rare and fragile Canadiana content that is not available anywhere else or able to be physically loaned out. This includes history of the local area, land documents, first-hand accounts of settlers, a large collection of photographs and a unique collection of works published in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Lisa Weaver,
Hamilton Public Library

“Now we have the technology to share so many stories from so many voices through this platform to anybody 24/7, ” said Lisa Weaver, Director of Collections & Program Development at the library. “The preservation of books that CDL allows us to do and access that CDL allows us to provide is invaluable.”

When Hamilton joined Open Libraries, it was able to identify 53,000 books in its physical holdings that Internet Archive had already digitized. Those books were added to Open Libraries to increase lending counts for those titles. For example, the library digitized three titles that cover unique pieces of Canadian history: “The Trail of the Black Helmut” by G. Elmore Reamon (1957), “The Art of Northwest Coast Indians” by Robert Bruce Inverarity (1950) and “The Clockmaker” by Thomas Haliburton (1958), the first internationally best-selling author of fiction from what is now Canada. With the assistance of Internet Archive, Hamilton will later this year accelerate its scanning of older titles and some of its unique Canadiana collection to share beyond the library walls.

Researchers and genealogists have been particularly interested in discovering the digitized material. The new format allows users to access resources when they wish, during their commute, wherever they are, or even when the library is not physically open. The program also helps students who want to read classics that are not in copyright and now widely available.

“CDL helps us provide access to the broadest number of resources to the broadest number of Canadians,” Weaver said. “Having books in digital format also supports customers with print disabilities access the content.”

As more libraries partner with Internet Archive to make their collections available via CDL, more will be giving back and adding to the shared collection. “Part of the mission of public libraries is to educate residents about the history and richness of their communities,” said Takala. “It’s about making more items available to our customers. The benefits are clear.”

Academic Authors Find Larger Audience

For Robert Darnton, the benefit of Controlled Digital Lending to academic authors is obvious: More people can read their work.

As the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and the University Librarian, Emeritus at Harvard University, Darnton has long been a champion of broadening access to information. He also sees the value of making materials more widely available when it comes to his own research outputs.

Darnton has made two of his books, which are both still in print, freely available online: Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment in France (Harvard University Press, l968) and The Business of Enlightenment: A Publishing History of the Encyclopédie, l775-l800 (Harvard University Press, l979). Several other of his titles are available to borrow electronically through the Internet Archive’s Open Library.

Robert Darnton

Eventually, Darnton said he’d like all his titles to be digitized. “I feel it’s in my best interest to reach as large a public audience as I possibly can,” said Darnton. He believes the exposure online helps with the marketing of his books. Indeed, there was an increase in sales of the Mesmerism book once it was digitized.

Many academics don’t rely on books for income and it’s rare that royalties continue after a few years. “What authors want when that ceases is to reach readers. This is the best way to do it,” Darnton said. “CDL is a good system and a way to really improve people’s access to literature without harming anyone.”

In higher education, resources from one campus library to another can vary widely. Even at Harvard, Darnton said it’s not possible to make all books available — let alone small libraries with limited budgets. Libraries can benefit from interlibrary loans and digital lending can provide even greater relief from isolation for institutions without the means of expanding their collections.

“CDL can make an enormous difference, even for such privileged environments as Harvard,” Darnton said. “There is momentum behind CDL. It is not just the way to go, but the way things are going.”

Unlocking Marooned Assets Through Digitization

Being able to lend an array of materials is fundamental to what public libraries do and Controlled Digital Lending–the digital equivalent of traditional library lending– is another tool for libraries to fulfill that mission, according to John Chrastka, executive director of EveryLibrary, a national organization dedicated to building voter support for libraries.

“There are numerous marooned assets within library collections. From 1924 to early the 2000s, there is content that is relevant to certain lines of inquiries or communities, yet it is trapped on paper,” said Chrastka, an early endorser of CDL. “Liberating it into an environment where it could be shared to one user at a time allows those marooned assets to be put back to work. So much public money has been spent over the years acquiring material that is now essentially isolated and cut off from actual use.”

John Chrastka,
EveryLibrary

“CDL is a way to ensure that books purchased with public dollars are used in the way they were intended to further education, enjoyment and entertainment,” said Chrastka. Technology has advanced in a way that can practically expand access and renew productivity of older titles to better serve the public. It moves the issue of access beyond location.

EveryLibrary is promoting the value of CDL on many fronts, including how it can open up materials to special populations. For example, there is a collection of oral histories from early Czech immigrants to the United States in a suburban Chicago library. It used to be that many descendants lived nearby and could walk to the library to look up those materials, but they have since moved. While the materials are physically stuck in Illinois, families and scholars elsewhere may be interested if only they had digital access, noted Chrastka.

CDL can also unlock commercial historical documents from the 1920s to the dawn of the computer age. Hidden in the information announcements of businesses may be solutions to problems of today – products that could be useful in future research and development for new companies.

Added Chrastka: “[CDL] is not something that is aspirational. This is about access. It is a core competency of libraries they should be exercising.”

University of Alberta Opens Up Digital Access to Historic Curriculum Materials

Anyone interested in learning about what was taught in Alberta schools in the past century used to go to the basement of the H. T. Coutts Education and Kinesiology and Physical Education Library at the University of Alberta. There, users would ask to be let into a locked room to view the historical curriculum collection.

Now, many of the historic textbooks are online and available through Controlled Digital Lending, the digital equivalent of a traditional library lending. It’s making for a new chapter in educational research at the urban university, which has about 40,000 students.

“It’s important for me to trace ideas in curriculum over time,” said Cathryn van Kessel, Assistant Professor of Education who is studying feminist issues in curriculum documents and textbooks. “The digitized collection allows researchers to shave countless hours off of our data collection. Being able to access electronic copies with searchable text is invaluable.”

Kim Frail, H.T. Coutts Library

CDL is also useful for the growing number of students taking online classes at the university and researchers who live outside of Edmonton or in other provinces, said Kim Frail, Public Services Librarian at the H.T. Coutts Library on campus.

The University of Alberta Libraries is Canada’s second-largest research library containing more than 5.2 million titles, 7.5 million volumes, 1.3 million e-books and 1,100 databases. They were also the first to adopt CDL in Canada.

The education library received a bequest from estate from Marie Wiedrick, wife of a former faculty member, Laurence Wiedrick, that has been used to fund the digitization project . With the help of the Internet Archives, which set up a scanning facility on campus, the university is more than halfway through digitizing approximately 6000 books that were used in Alberta schools from 1885 to 1985.

Many of the books in the Wiedrick Collection are becoming fragile and deteriorating as they were physically checked out. CDL provides an alternative format that allows the originals to be preserved.

“We think it’s a great legacy for the [Wiedrick] family because it allows broader access to the collection,” said Frail, who works with education researchers at the library that functions as a quasi-academic and public library used by the broader community.
In one education course, students examine the representation of Indigenous people over time in historical textbooks. In graduate-level courses that focus on the history of curriculum, students select a certain 10-year period to study how the teaching of certain subjects has changed. Having digital content makes it easier for students to access the materials, especially with regards to curriculum documents or “Programs of Study” from the early 1900s when all the subjects were contained in one book, noted Frail.

Recently, an Alberta researcher received a large grant to work in collaboration with scholars at 17 universities around Canada to examine how history has been taught in the schools over time. Online access to the Wiedrick Collection means that researchers can tap into textbooks in Alberta from any location.

“As we move forward in education, it’s interesting to know where there were gaps – what things were and weren’t being taught,” said Frail.

It’s a particularly useful resource, as well, since librarians have compiled a bibliography that traces what books were used when and for what subject, Frail added. Digitizing the older works enables researchers to conveniently search topics electronically with key words.

“We are hearing great feedback,” said Frail. “It has opened up a whole new realm of research and enabled comparisons over time on a different scale.”

Giving New Life to Out-of-Print Books Through Controlled Digital Lending

Dean Bartoli Smith’s book of poetry about growing up in Baltimore came out in 2000. American Boy was long past its sales life until it was resurrected by being digitized by the Internet Archive and made available through one-at-a-time digital lending (a model known as Controlled Digital Lending).

Dean Bartoli Smith, Poet and Director, Duke University Press

“It’s uniquely personal to me because some of the poems deal with my parents’ divorce at the age of seven,” says Smith of the 68-page collection of poems. “My mother became a family law attorney and would give my book to clients who were dealing with custody situations. She passed away in January and as a tribute to her, I wanted there to be free access to that book.”

The poems reflect Smith’s journey to adulthood and issues of the day, such as Vietnam and the plight of Native Americans. It is geared for readers 10 and up. Initially, about 1,000 copies were printed by Washington Writers Publishing House and now the book is available by print on demand.

“I think there is a big need to be able to provide access to these books that are out of print,” said Smith, who is director of the Duke University Press and a 1989 graduate of the Masters of Fine Arts program at Columbia University, “I didn’t go about writing as a way to make a living. Poets are writing poetry to make sense of the world and to share. If someone can benefit from something that I’ve written, then all the more power.”

Smith also wrote Never Easy, Never Pretty: A Fan, A City, A Championship Season, a nonfiction trade book about the Baltimore Ravens 2012 Super Bowl season published by Temple University Press in 2013. Each chapter starts with a line of poetry about football from an established poet. While still in print, Smith said he may eventually explore having that title digitized by the Internet Archive.