Since 18th century and pre-Constitution America, libraries have been a public space, a central repository where books could be borrowed, read and returned—a long defended democratic ideal of the public library. But new challenges like book bans and lawsuits against libraries threaten that historic role. Join Brewster Kahle for a discussion about the future of libraries at The Commonwealth Club of California, October 6 @ 5:30pm PT.
Public Library Lending: An Endangered Core Value of American Democracy? October 6 @ 5:30pm PT The Commonwealth Club of California 110 The Embarcadero, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium Register now for the in-person event (virtual attendance available)
Join us on October 19 to help inaugurate Democracy’s Library and celebrate all the different efforts happening at the Internet Archive!
Why is it that on the internet the best information is often locked behind paywalls? Brewster Kahle, founder of The Internet Archive, believes it’s time to turn that scarcity model upside down and build an internet based on abundance. Join us for an evening event where he’ll share a new project—Democracy’s Library—a free, open, online compendium of government research and publications from around the world. Why? Because democracies need an educated citizenry to thrive.
This year’s event is hybrid. We will be celebrating in-person at our main library in San Francisco, and will be livestreaming the event itself from 7pm-8pm PT so that everyone who cares about democracy around the world can join in.
Event details 5pm: Entertainment, Mingling and Food Trucks 7pm: Democracy’s Library presentation featuring Leslie Weir, Librarian and Archivist of Canada and Jamie Joyce, Executive Director of The Society Library. 8pm: Dancing in the Streets with “Hot Buttered Rum”
Registration is required: Register now for in-person or virtual attendance. Location: 300 Funston Ave. at Clement St., San Francisco
“A beautifully illustrated journey through the history of computing, from the Antikythera mechanism to the iPhone and beyond—I loved it.”—Eben Upton, Founder and CEO of Raspberry Pi
From notched bones in the ancient world to self-driving cars powered by modern AI, for centuries humans have used computing systems to solve problems & enhance the way we live. But who are the people and stories behind these advancements? In THE HISTORY OF THE COMPUTER, author and illustrator Rachel Ignotofsky presents a fun-filled & beautifully illustrated journey through computing history, checking in on the notable personalities, organizations & technologies that have changed our world.
In our virtual event on September 15 @ 10am PT, Rachel will be joined by Alexis Rossi, Internet Archive’s director of media & access, and Jason Scott, free range archivist, for a discussion of the people, the inventions, the passions, and the controversies that have defined the history of the computer and its role in our daily lives.
Purchase your copy of The History of the Computer from The Booksmith, our local bookstore in the historic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, or your own local bookshop.
September Book Talk: The History of the Computer Author & illustrator Rachel Ignotofsky in conversation with Alexis Rossi & Jason Scott from the Internet Archive. September 15 @ 10am PT Watch the recording from the virtual event
EDITORIAL NOTE: Updated 9/15/22 to remove registration links & include links to view the video.
“Josh Chin and Liza Lin have given us a truly groundbreaking investigation of China’s embrace of digital surveillance. The global scope and deep detail of their account retires the notion of an ‘all-seeing’ surveillance as some future scenario; it is happening already. They will open your eyes to the astonishing intersection of data, politics, and the human body. Anyone who cares about the future of technology, of China, or of free will cannot afford to miss this.” —Evan Osnos, The New Yorker
Join authors Josh Chin & Liza Lin for an in-person discussion on life in China’s burgeoning surveillance state. They will be joined in conversation by Xiao Qiang (Berkeley). September 14 @ Internet Archive, 300 Funston Avenue, San Francisco Doors open at 6:30pm, discussion starts at 7pm.
People living in democracies have for decades drawn comfort from the notion that their form of government, for all its flaws, is the best history has managed to produce. In SURVEILLANCE STATE: Inside China’s Quest to Launch a New Era of Social Control (St. Martin’s Press; September 6, 2022), award-winning journalists Josh Chin and Liza Lin (Wall Street Journal) document with startling detail how China’s Communist Party is striving for something new: a political model that shapes the will of the people not through the ballot box but through the sophisticated—and often brutal—harnessing of data.
Purchase a copy of Surveillance State at registration to be signed by the authors at the event. You can also purchase unsigned copies from The Booksmith, our local bookshop in the historic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, to be delivered to you, or from your own local bookstore.
Book Talk: Surveillance State Authors Josh Chin and Liza Lin September 14 @ 7pm PT IN-PERSON @ the Internet Archive, 300 Funston Avenue, San Francisco Registration is required!Register now
Join experts from the library, copyright, and information policy fields for a series of conversations exploring issues related to digital ownership and the future of library collections. Learn more about the event on the Library Leaders Forum web site, or register below.
This year’s Library Leaders Forum will be organized on two separate dates to provide attendees with a flexible environment in which to reconnect with colleagues:
In our virtual session, hear from library leaders as they navigate the challenges of the ebook marketplace, and their concerns about the future of library collections as content moves digital.
October 19: In-Person
October 19 @ 9am – 3pm PT Internet Archive Headquarters @ 300 Funston, San Francisco
At our in-person session, we’ll gather together with the builders & dreamers to envision an equitable future for digital lending. Capacity for the in-person session, held at our headquarters in San Francisco, will be capped at 30 attendees.Interested in attending?
Empowering Libraries Through Controlled Digital Lending
October 11 @ 10am PT – REGISTER NOW The Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program empowers libraries to lend digital books to patrons using Controlled Digital Lending. Attendees will learn how CDL works, the benefits of the Open Libraries program, and the impact that the program is having for partner libraries and the communities they serve.
Featuring the book How We Give Now by Lucy Bernholz. Published by MIT Press.
What is dataraising and why should nonprofits care? For millennia humans have given time and money to each other and to causes they care about. A few hundred years ago we invented nonprofit organizations and they’ve become a key mechanism in the donation of private resources for public benefit. Now, we can also donate digital data. Organizations such as iNaturalist use donated digital photographs to build communities of nature lovers and inform climate scientists. Other organizations are using donated data to build cultural archives, advocate for fair labor laws, protect consumers, and for medical research.
Watch session recording:
Join Lucy Bernholz, author of How We Give Now, Scott Loarie of iNaturalist, and Dr. Jasmine McNealy from the University of Florida for a discussion of the promises and perils of donating digital data and the implications for individuals, communities, and civil society.
August Book Talk: Dataraising and Digital Civil Society Featuring Lucy Bernholz, author of How We Give Now, Scott Loarie of iNaturalist, and Dr. Jasmine McNealy from the University of Florida August 10, 2022 @ 11am PT Watch the session recording.
On June 21st, the Community Webs program team hosted its 2022 US Symposium at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. For this day-long meeting, we welcomed over 30 librarians and archivists from across the country for presentations, discussion, networking, and some much-needed catch up following two years of entirely virtual events.
Community Webs is a community history web and digital archiving program operated by the Internet Archive. The program seeks to advance the capacity for community-focused memory organizations to build web and digital archives documenting local histories, with a particular focus on communities that have been underrepresented in the historic record. Community Webs provides its members with web and digital archiving tools, as well as training, technical support and access to a network of organizations doing similar work. The Community Webs program, including this event, is generously funded with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Mellon Foundation.
The day began with opening remarks and program updates from Internet Archive staff, including an overview of Community Webs and the significant growth the program has experienced since its launch in 2017. Staff provided a glimpse at what lies ahead both for Community Webs and the Internet Archive’s Archiving and Data Services team. This included plans to incorporate digitization, digital preservation and other forms of digital collecting into Community Webs, as well as projects and services either newly released or in development at IA.
The first keynote speaker of the day was Dr. Doretha Williams, Director of the Robert F. Smith Center for the Digitization and Curation of African American History at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Dr. Williams detailed her organization’s commitment to serving its communities via the Center’s Community Curation Program, Internships and Fellowships Program, Family History Center, and Great Migration Home Movie Project. Throughout her presentation, Dr. Williams stressed the importance of community input and partnerships to achieving the Center’s mission, echoing one of the central tenets of the Community Webs program.
Following this presentation, three speakers shared their experiences working on collaborative web archiving initiatives. Lori Donovan, Senior Program Manager for Community Programs at the Internet Archive, began with an overview of various collaborative web archiving initiatives the Internet Archive and its partners have participated in, including the Collaborative ART Archive (CARTA), a web archiving initiative aimed at capturing web-based art materials utilizing a collective approach. Roger Lawson, Executive Librarian at the National Gallery of Art, shared his institution’s perspective as a member of CARTA. Finally, Christie Moffatt, Digital Manuscripts Program Manager at the National Library of Medicine, described working with colleagues both across her organization and externally to capture health-related web content at a national scale. Each of these presentations emphasized the advantages in scale, resources, staffing and knowledge-sharing that can be achieved by pursuing web archiving via collaborative entities.
Our afternoon session kicked off with a second keynote presentation from Leslie Johnston, Director of Digital Preservation at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Johnston detailed the challenges NARA faces while contending with digital preservation across the enterprise. These challenges include the heterogeneity of digital outputs and technologies, the complexity of digital objects and environments, the scale of the archivable digital universe, and the difficulties in ensuring equitable access. As an antidote to these challenges, Johnston recommends archivists provide guidance to content creators, take a risk-based approach, prioritize basic levels of control, maintain scalable and flexible infrastructure, and engage in collaborations and partnerships. She also advocated for a people- rather than technology-centric approach to digital preservation, again mirroring the ethos of the Community Webs program.
For our final speaker session of the afternoon, we welcomed Community Webs members up to the lectern to share their web archiving and digital goals and achievements. Librarian, archivist, Phd student, and creative polymath kYmberly Keeton discussed her work as founder of Art | Library Deco, an online archive of African American art. Keeton described working closely with the artists featured in the archive, reiterating the theme of collaboration espoused by other speakers at the event. Tricia Dean, Tech Services Manager at Wilmington Public Library (Illinois), argued for the importance of capturing the histories of small and rural communities through initiatives like Community Webs. Liz Paulus, Adult Services Librarian at Cedar Mill & Bethany Community Libraries described her efforts to capture the online Cedar Mill News via web archiving, stressing how one successful project can play a significant role when advocating for future resources. Longtime Community Webs member Dylan Gaffney, Information Services Associate for Local History & Special Collections at Forbes Library, described his library’s participation in States of Incarceration, a traveling exhibition on mass incarceration, the Historic Northampton Enslaved People Project, and other initiatives. Gaffney credited Community Webs with paving the way for an equity-focused approach to digital projects such as these. Finally, Dana Hamlin, Archivist at Waltham Public Library showcased her organization’s web archiving efforts, highlighting the library’s COVID-19 collections and their attempts to capture the online local newspaper, the Waltham News Tribune.
Throughout the day, attendees had opportunities to discuss digital initiatives at their organizations, to catch up informally after a long hiatus, and to browse the exhibitions on display at the National Museum of the American Indian. We’re so grateful to all of our Community Webs members who were able to attend the event and especially to those who shared their knowledge. Our next Community Webs Symposium will be held in Chattanooga this September 13 to coincide with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries Conference. We are looking forward to seeing more program members there!
Thought leaders from libraries, academia, and civil society gathered at Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C., on June 23 to discuss how to best advance policies that improve the ease, affordability and equity in how people access knowledge in the digital age.
Convened by the Internet Archive, this workshop was designed as a continuation of a conversation that the public interest community, including Internet Archive, Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, Library Futures, and the Wikimedia Foundation, started last summer around building a better internet centered on public interest values.
While U.S. lawmakers’ focus on internet policy has largely been directed at reigning in the “Big Tech” commercial platforms, this workshop took a different approach. Rather than centering the challenges with today’s for-profit, commercial platforms, the workshop centered the barriers libraries face and potential opportunities for them to help solve challenges with our digital information ecosystem.
Our hope as organizers was that we could map the terrain, find common ground, and identify areas for further discussion. And even in a short amount of time, we were able to do that in spades. Here are a few of our key learnings, and what’s next.
Participants recognized that libraries could fill an important gap in the current online environment, as they have done for hundreds of years offline–indeed, providing free access to high quality, trusted information is libraries’ primary mission. As our information ecosystem becomes increasingly digital, the world often looks to libraries to do even more. For instance, scholar Joan Donovan has suggested that platform companies hire 10,000 librarians to help curate their services and support access to quality information. Others have suggested libraries could be doing fact checking, building and hosting social media networks, and more. One important way to combat misinformation is with better information provided by libraries; however, this is not without its challenges.
Participants identified two significant barriers for full library participation in the digital information ecosystem as media consolidation and copyright overreach by powerful publishers. The group discussed a wide range of possible solutions to these challenges including antitrust scrutiny, contract preemption, supporting a robust public domain, controlled digital lending, and digital ownership.
The group was motivated by a desire to serve the public over commercial interests, and expressed their commitment to making sure equity was woven through all proposals in a thoughtful and authentic manner. Libraries support access to information and creative empowerment for all. We understand that a better internet must work for everyone, including underserved and vulnerable populations.
As the organizers of this event, we are very grateful to all the participants for contributing their time and expertise to this effort. Up next, we will hold virtual workshops to include additional members of the community in these discussions followed by the publication of a longer report with our findings and policy recommendations. Stay tuned for future updates as this effort moves forward.
“A comprehensive and fascinating deep dive into the evolution of libraries… Bibliophiles should consider this a must-read.”—Publishers Weekly
Perfect for book lovers, this is a fascinating exploration of the history of libraries and the people who built them, from the ancient world to the digital age.
Join historian Abby Smith Rumsey for a book talk & conversation with Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen, authors of The Library: A Fragile History.
Watch session recording:
Many have decried the perilous state of the library in the 21st century, a situation that was made only worse when public libraries across the world were forced to shut their doors in the face of a global pandemic. But across centuries of existence, libraries have faced ruin from war, fire, neglect, and dispersal—only to be reborn again.
In The Library, historians Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen trace the extraordinary history of the institution, from the famed collections of the ancient world to the modern public resource of today. Along the way, they encounter the librarians, historians, readers, supporters and antagonists that have shaped the library and its offerings over centuries. Do libraries last? Register for our book talk to find out from the authors.
July Book Talk: The Library: A Fragile History Historian Abby Smith Rumsey in conversation with authors Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen. July 20 @ 9am PT Watch the event recording
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:
Abby Smith Rumsey is a writer and historian focusing on the creation, preservation, and use of the cultural record in all media. She writes and lectures widely on analog and digital preservation, online scholarship, the nature of evidence, the changing roles of libraries and archives, and the impact of new information technologies on perceptions of history, time, and identity. She is the author of When We Are No More: How Digital Memory is Shaping our Future (2016).
Andrew Pettegree is Professor of Modern History at St Andrews University, where he directs the Universal Short Title Catalogue, a database of information about all books published before 1650. A leading expert on the history of book and media transformations, Pettegree is the award-winning author of several books on the subject. He lives in Scotland.
Arthur der Weduwen is a historian and postdoctoral fellow at St. Andrews, where he serves as an associate editor of the Universal Short Title Catalogue. This is his fifth book. He lives in Scotland.
“Wilson-Lee’s pioneering study makes Hernando’s life every bit as compelling as his father’s. But that is not all: as we accompany Hernando on his various European journeys of compulsive acquisition, we are not only led through a richly evoked early modern world, but also prompted to reflect on our own data-saturated age.” —The Times Literary Supplement
The Internet Archive invites you to watch a book talk with Edward Wilson-Lee, author of The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World’s Greatest Library, followed by a conversation with Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive.
In The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books, Edward Wilson-Lee tells the compelling story of Hernando Colón, who sailed with his father Christopher Columbus on his final voyage to the New World, a journey that ended in disaster, bloody mutiny, and shipwreck. After Columbus’s death in 1506, eighteen-year-old Hernando sought to continue—and surpass—his father’s campaign to explore the boundaries of the known world by building a library that would collect everything ever printed: a vast holding organized by summaries and catalogues, the first database for the exploding diversity of written matter as the printing press proliferated across Europe.
Hernando held the groundbreaking conviction that a library of universal knowledge should include “all books, in all languages and on all subjects,” even material often dismissed: ballads, erotica, news pamphlets, almanacs, popular images, romances, fables. The loss of part of his collection to another maritime disaster in 1522, set off the final scramble to complete this sublime project, a race against time to realize a vision of near-impossible perfection.
Book Talk: The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books Author Edward Wilson-Lee in conversation with Internet Archive’s Brewster Kahle. June 28 @ 10am PT Watch the recording from the virtual event
Edward Wilson-Lee is a Fellow in English at Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, and a specialist in the literature and the history of the book in the early modern period. He is the author of The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books, Shakespeare in Swahililand and Translation and the Book Trade in Early Modern Europe.