Category Archives: News

FOSS wins again: Free and Open Source Communities comes through on 19th Century Newspapers (and Books and Periodicals…)

I have never been more encouraged and thankful to Free and Open Source communities. Three months ago I posted a request for help with OCR’ing and processing 19th Century Newspapers and we got soooo many offers to help.  Thank you, that was heart warming and concretely helpful– already based on these suggestions we are changing over our OCR and PDF software completely to FOSS, making big improvements, and building partnerships with FOSS developers in companies, universities, and as individuals that will propel the Internet Archive to have much better digitized texts.  I am so grateful, thank you.   So encouraging.

I posted a plea for help on the Internet Archive blog: Can You Help us Make the 19th Century Searchable? and we got many social media offers and over 50 comments the post– maybe a record response rate.   

We are already changing over our OCR to Tesseract/OCRopus and leveraging many PDF libraries to create compressed, accessible, and archival PDFs.

Several people suggested the German government-lead initiative called OCR-D that has made production level tools for helping OCR and segment complex and old materials such as newspapers in the old German script Fraktur, or black letter.  (The Internet Archive had never been able to process these, and now we are doing it at scale).   We are also able to OCR more Indian languages which is fantastic.  This Government project is FOSS, and has money for outreach to make sure others use the tools– this is a step beyond most research grants. 

Tesseract has made a major step forward in the last few years.  When we last evaluated the accuracy it was not as good as the proprietary OCR, but that has changed– we have done evaluations and it is just as good, and can get better for our application because of its new architecture.   

Underlying the new Tesseract is a LSTM engine similar to the one developed for Ocropus2/ocropy, which was a project led by Tom Bruel (funded by Google, his former German University, and probably others– thank you!). He has continued working on this project even though he left academia.  A machine learning based program is introducing us to GPU based processing, which is an extra win.  It can also be trained on corrected texts so it can get better.  

Proprietary example from an Anti-Slavery newspaper from my blog post:

New one, based on free and open source software that is still faulty but better:

The time it takes on our cluster to compute is approximately the same, but if we add GPU’s we should be able to speed up OCR and PDF creation, maybe 10 times, which would help a great deal since we are processing millions of pages a day.

The PDF generation is a balance trying to achieve small file size as well as rendering quickly in browser implementations, have useful functionality (text search, page numbers, cut-and-paste of text), and comply with archival (PDF/A) and accessibility standards (PDF/UA). At the heart of the new PDF generation is the “archive-pdf-tools” Python library, which performs Mixed Raster Content (MRC) compression, creates a hidden text layer using a modified Tesseract PDF renderer that can read hOCR files as input, and ensures the PDFs are compatible with archival standards (VeraPDF is used to verify every PDF that we generate against the archival PDF standards). The MRC compression decomposes each image into a background, foreground and foreground mask, heavily compressing (and sometimes downscaling) each layer separately. The mask is compressed losslessly, ensuring that the text and lines in an image do not suffer from compression artifacts and look clear. Using this method, we observe a 10x compression factor for most of our books.

The PDFs themselves are created using the high-performance mupdf and pymupdf python library: both projects were supportive and promptly fixed various bugs, which propelled our efforts forwards.

And best of all, we have expanded our community to include people all over the world that are working together to make cultural materials more available. We have a slack channel for OCR researchers and implementers now, that you can join if you would like.  We look to contribute software and data sets to these projects to help them improve (lead by Merlijn Wajer and Derek Fukumori).

Next steps to fulfill the dream of Vanevar Bush’s Memex, Ted Nelson’s Xanadu, Michael Hart’s Project Gutenberg, Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web,  Raj Ready’s call for Universal Access to All Knowledge (and now the Internet Archive’s mission statement):

  • Find articles in periodicals, and get the titles/authors/footnotes
  • Linking footnote citations to other documents
  • OCR Balinese palm leaf manuscripts based 17,000 hand entered pages.
  • Improve Tesseract page handling to improve OCR and segmentation
  • Improve epub creation, including images from pages
  • Improve OCRopus by creating training datasets

Any help here would be most appreciated.

Thank you, Free and Open Source Communities!  We are glad to be part of such a sharing and open world.

Flash Back! Further Thoughts on Flash at the Internet Archive

A little behind the scenes here at the Archive: this blog is the province of a wide range of sub-groups, from books and partnerships over to development and collaborators. There’s usually a little traffic jam to schedule or make sure entries don’t go over each other, so this “sequel” post is being written before we return you to other Archive news.

The big announcement last week about the Internet Archive hosting Flash animations/games and making them run in the browser thanks to the Emularity and Ruffle made a huge splash. If you haven’t read that entry, you should definitely read it first.

Here’s some observations about Flash and the Internet Ecosystem from the last three rambunctious days. Obviously, the story of us including Flash doesn’t end here – we’ll continue to update Ruffle as it improves, and both users and collaborators are adding new animations at a pretty stunning clip. Be sure to keep checking the Flash Collection at the Archive for new additions.

What have we learned so far?

The Idea of Playing Flash in the Browser Past The End of The Year Is Very Popular

It was assumed, and has proven out, that being able to play Flash items, be they animations, toys or games, is an extremely popular idea: Tens of thousands of people have been flooding into the Archive to try things out. The “death” of Flash as a default plugin for browsers and the removal of easy access to it definitely had many people sad and concerned.

That said, assuming that Adobe and any other vendors were not going to throw the significant resources behind security and maintenance that Flash plugins would require, removing default support for it made sense. Sometimes these choices are not great for the historical Web, but sideloading in significant attack surfaces just because people like old games is not ideal either.

Ruffle is not Flash. It is an emulator that takes .SWF files (which worked with Flash) and makes a very good attempt to display what the file means to do. It is written in an entire other language with an entire other team of programmers, and is working with a specification and history that is ossified. In that way, it is hoped that the security issues of Flash can be avoided but the works can live on.

And are they living on!

Even in the very short time that this new feature has been announced, the news was picked up by Boing Boing, Engadget, The Verge, The Register, Gizmodo, PC Gamer, and dozens of other locations (and the top spot at Hacker News for a while). That increased the flood of visitors to our site and we’ve held up pretty well, due to the high compression rates and small file sizes of Flash.

People Have Very Strong Memories of Flash; For Some It Represents Childhood

Everyone has a different timeline with computers and the internet, but for countless people using their phones and connections today, Flash plays as critical a role in their childhood memories as a game console or television show. Students could sneak flash games into the computer labs, or trade USB sticks with Flash, or simply get around filters preventing “obvious” entertainment sites to find a single URL that gave them a racing or RPG game to while away an afternoon on.

And, most notably, not just as players, but as creators. There are, it turns out, a significant amount of professional artists and coders who count Flash and related technologies as their very first “programming language”. Going through our collection, you can find ten-person studio productions side-by-side a game made by a driven teenager at home, and the teenager will have gotten more popular. Intended to be used for creative works, the Flash environments over the years provided the launchpad for thousands of careers and creative outlets.

The Role of Flash Wasn’t Obvious To a Lot of People

An interesting situation as people come face to face with in some of these animations in the Flash collection are that many didn’t know they were Flash.

Video sites, such as Youtube, are a mid to late 2000s addition to the Internet. Previously, with dial-up modems as the main connection to the Internet, streaming video was a distant and hazy dream that seemed impossible to provide beyond a small experimental or well-connected crowd. Filling that need was Flash, which could compress down incredibly small (a full song and video to accompany it could be under five megabytes, or even one megabyte) and they even had quality settings for less powerful computers. Flash animation could “pre-load” the data required that was coming over a modem, giving an update as to progress or a small game to play, until the full “video” was downloaded. This has all been swept away into the dustbin of memory in a world where 4k 60fps video is possible (if still not to everyone).

With the jump to video in the mid 2000s, many Flash animations were transcoded into MPEG files, or animated GIFs, or uploaded to Youtube as fully-realized video, even though Flash was the original medium. As the more well-crafted works gained attention in this new space, the old formats were forgotten.

Since the Ruffle browser has a fullscreen option (right-click, soon to be a button to the right of the animation), if the Flash animation was done using vectors, they will scale up to 4k displays smoothly. Unlike old video, the original works will keep up with the newest technology very nicely and will give added appreciation for the efforts in the original piece.

Flooding All These Old Flash Works Has High and Low Moments

Because nearly anyone could create flash animations and games, nearly anyone did. It also meant that filters on quality, profanity, or unusual subjects were gone.

Sometimes that worked out very nicely: Imagine trying to pitch an animated film like The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny to a studio or backers to make for film festivals. A game like Castle Cat is bizarre and a collage of pop culture but plays as well as a professional game at the time. (it even got a sequel.)

Other times, the works are clunky, poorly programmed, and full of offensive jokes and material. They could literally be after-school projects or whipped up in a weekend to make fun of someone or something and then get trapped in amber to the present day. Wandering the stacks, with what will soon be thousands of items, can be daunting.

As a result, the Showcase was created to highlight the best of the best, the handful that really universally stand out as entertaining, well-made, and uplifting (or at least, thought-provoking).

By the way, if the towering piles of Flash works seems daunting now, imagine what it was like 20 years ago for people slowly moving through page after page, taking minutes to download a given animation, and clicking on it with no idea what they’d be seeing next.

Adding Your Own Flash Is Difficult But Rewarding

It is notably complicated to add new working Flash to our collection. This is a side effect of all the different components that need to be activated in the Internet Archive structure. By far, the best document to read about how to test, upload, and describe SWF files is this document by the Flashpoint project:

(As a side note, the two most common mistakes are setting “emulator-ext” instead of “emulator_ext” (see the difference?) and not setting the item to be a “software” media type. A script has been written that checks new uploads to find common mistakes and will sometimes tweak the uploads to fix them.)

There’s Still A Long Way to Go To “Perfect” or Wayback Playback

We shoved this entire ecosystem into the Archive “hot”, with known gaps in support for Flash features, and with bugs still being ironed out. Most Flash animations used a rather small set of scripting commands within the potential list, and those have been focused on by the Ruffle team, so a lot of animations do just fine. But more than just a few times, a Flash item will go in and there will be a critical failure, be it the inability to hit buttons or missing video/audio. This reflects the continual improvement of the emulator but also that entire swaths of support are still a way to go.

This also provides the answer to the question some are asking, which is how long before the Wayback Machine “just plays” old Flash items when you go to the page. Ruffle is still way too new to shove into the Wayback and the problems it would cause at this stage would be significant. Many improvements to Wayback and its reach have happened over the last year, with connections to Wikipedia, Cloudflare and Brave, but the day when you go to an old Flash-driven site and have it “just work” in Wayback is going to be a significant time in the future.

Which brings up another tangent:

Flash Interfaces to the Web Were The Worst Idea

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that the fad of making Flash boot up and be the “menu” or selections for a website were unusually cruel to anyone in need of portability or accessibility. What’s thought of as “Web 1.0” (HTML files and simple flat files provided to servers) was extremely good for screen readers and keyboard shortcuts, providing important access to blind or disabled users, as well as expanding the amount of devices and systems that could use the Web. Flash took a lot of that away in the name of.. well, Flashiness. As this small burst of interest in Flash has occurred, a not-insignificant amount of people dependent on accessibility have said “Good Riddance to Flash”, and they’re entirely right. Captured inside little boxes on Internet Archive as displays in a museum, they work fine enough. But the Web should never have depended on Flash for navigation.

When Flash Is At Its Best, There’s Nothing Like It On The Internet

As people have been sharing the Flash animations they’ve found on the site, as well as providing their own additions, jewels have been coming to the forefront. Most inspiring have been artists and creators who did work 15 or 20 years ago and have been rifling through floppies and stored ZIP files to upload to our collection.

Watching this as they come in, it strikes us anew how much effort, artistic and otherwise, went into a good Flash animation. Crafting custom artwork, adding little touches and flair, and truly bringing something new into the world… this was the promise of Flash and every time someone in the modern age stumbles on a classic for the first time, all the effort is worth it.

Long Live Flash!

Flash Animations Live Forever at the Internet Archive

Great news for everyone concerned about the Flash end of life planned for end of 2020: The Internet Archive is now emulating Flash animations, games and toys in our software collection.

Utilizing an in-development Flash emulator called Ruffle, we have added Flash support to the Internet Archive’s Emularity system, letting a subset of Flash items play in the browser as if you had a Flash plugin installed. While Ruffle’s compatibility with Flash is less than 100%, it will play a very large portion of historical Flash animation in the browser, at both a smooth and accurate rate.

We have a showcase of the hand-picked best or representative Flash items in this collection. If you want to try your best at combing through a collection of over 1,000 flash items uploaded so far, here is the link.

You will not need to have a flash plugin installed, and the system works in all browsers that support Webassembly.

For many people: See you later! Enjoy the Flash stuff!

Others might get this far down and ask “And what exactly is Flash?” or even “I haven’t thought about Flash in a very long time.” For both of these groups, let’s talk about Flash and what it represented in the 1990s and 2000s.

A Short History of of the Rise of Flash

In the early 1990s, web browsers were incredibly powerful compared to what came before – with simple files written in HTML that could generate documents that were mixing images and text, as well as providing links to other websites, it felt like nothing for computers had ever had this level of ease and flexibility. It really did change everything.

But people didn’t stay in a state of wonder.

It quickly became a request, then a demand, then a mission to allow animation, sound, and greater audio/video flexibility into webpages. A huge range of companies were on a mission to make this happen. While looking back it might seem like one or two tried, it was actually a bunch of companies, but out of the wreckage of experimentation and effort came a couple big winners: Shockwave and Flash.

Flash had once been called SmartSketch in 1993, which was rewritten as FutureWave, and was actually a challenger to Shockwave until purchased by Macromedia, who handled creation software and playback software for both products.

Flash had many things going for it – the ability to compress down significantly made it a big advantage in the dial-up web era. It could also shift playback quality to adjust to a wide variety of machines. Finally, it was incredibly easy to use – creation software allowed a beginner or novice to make surprisingly complicated and flexible graphic and sound shows that ran beautifully on web browsers without requiring deep knowledge of individual operating systems and programming languages.

From roughly 2000 to 2005, Flash was the top of the heap for a generation of creative artists, animators and small studios. Literally thousands and thousands of individual works were released on the web. Flash could also be used to make engaging menu and navigation systems for webpages, and this was used by many major and minor players on the Web to bring another layer of experience to their users. (There were, of course, detractors and critics of use of Flash this way – accessibility was a major issue and the locked-in nature of Flash as a menu system meant it was extremely brittle and prone to errors on systems as time went on.)

This period was the height of Flash. Nearly every browser could be expected to have a “Flash Plugin” to make it work, thousands of people were experimenting with Flash to make art and entertainment, and an audience of millions, especially young ones, looked forward to each new release.

However, cracks appeared on the horizon.

The Downfall of Flash

Macromedia was acquired by Adobe in 2005, who renamed Flash to Adobe Flash and began extensive upgrades and changes to the Flash environment. Flash became a near operating system in itself. But these upgrades brought significant headaches and security problems. Backwards compatibility became an issue, as well as losing interest by novice creators. Social networks and platforms became notably hostile to user-created artworks being loaded in their walled gardens.

It all came to a head in 2010, when Apple CEO Steve Jobs released an open letter called “Thoughts on Flash”. The letter was criticized and received strong condemnation from Adobe, and Apple ultimately backed off their plan (although work was done to support alternate tools).

The call-out, even if not initially successful, ended the party.

In November of 2011, Adobe announced it was ending support of Flash for mobile web browsers, and in 2017, announced it was discontinuing Flash altogether for 2020.

Flash’s final death-blow was the introduction of HTML 5 in 2014. With its ground-up acknowledgement of audio and video items being as important as text and images, HTML 5 had significant support for animation, sound and video at the browser level. This mean increased speed, compatibility, and less concern about a specific plugin being installed and from what source – audio/video items just worked and Flash, while still used in some quarters and certainly needed to view older works, stopped being the go-to approach for web designers.

What Are We Losing When We Lose Flash?

Like any container, Flash itself is not as much of a loss as all the art and creativity it held. Without a Flash player, flash animations don’t work. It’s not like an image or sound file where a more modern player could still make the content accessible in the modern era. If there’s no Flash Player, there’s nothing like Flash, which is a tragedy.

As you’ll see in the collection at the Archive, Flash provided a gateway for many young creators to fashion near-professional-level games and animation, giving them the first steps to a later career. Companies created all sorts of unique works that became catchphrases and memes for many, and memories they can still recall. Flash also led to unusual side-paths like “advergames”, banners that played full games to entice you to buy a product. Clones of classic arcade games abounded, as well as truly twisted and unique experiences unfettered by needing a budget or committee to come to reality. A single person working in their home could hack together a convincing program, upload it to a huge clearinghouse like Newgrounds, and get feedback on their work. Some creators even made entire series of games, each improving on the last, until they became full professional releases on consoles and PCs.

Why We Emulate Flash

The Internet Archive has moved aggressively in making a whole range of older software run in the browser over the past decade. We’ve done this project, The Emularity, because one of our fundamental tenets is Access Drives Preservation; being able to immediately experience a version of the software in your browser, while not perfect or universal, makes it many times more likely that support will arrive to preserve these items.

Flash is in true danger of sinking beneath the sea, because of its depending on a specific, proprietary player to be available. As Adobe Flash is discontinued, many operating systems will automatically strip the player out of the browser and system. (As of this writing, it is already coming to fruition a month before the end-of-life deadline.) More than just dropping support, the loss of the player means the ability of anyone to experience Flash is dropping as well. Supporting Ruffle is our line in the sand from oblivion’s gaze.

Credit Where Due

This project is by no means an Internet Archive-only production, although assistance from Dan Brooks, James Baicoianu, Tracey Jacquith, Samuel Stoller and Hank Bromley played a huge part.

The Ruffle Team has been working on their emulator for months and improving it daily. (Ruffle welcomes new contributors for the project at

The BlueMaxima Flashpoint Project has been working for years to provide a desktop solution to playable web animation and multimedia, including Flash. Clocking in at nearly 500 gigabytes of data and growing, the project is located here:

A shout-out to Guy Sowden, who first drafted the inclusion of Ruffle in the Emularity before it was refined elsewhere; your efforts set the ball rolling.

And finally, a huge thanks to the community of Flash creators whose creative and wonderful projects over the years led to inspiration in its preservation. We hope you’ll like your new, permanent home.

Bonus Section: Adding Your Own Flash Animations to the Archive!

For the creators, artists and collectors who have .swf files from the era of Flash and would like to see them uploaded to the Archive and working like our collection, here’s some simple instructions to do so.

Please note: Ruffle is a developing emulator, and compatibility with SWF files is continually improving but is not perfect. They have provided a test environment here to see if your SWF file will work. Please take the time to test before uploading to the Archive.

The Archive looks for one mediatype setting (software) and two metadata pairs set (emulator and emulator_ext) to know whether an item can be run in the Ruffle emulator. Here are those two settings:

emulator set to ruffle-swf
emulator_ext set to swf

The emulator only works with a single SWF file at the moment, which should have no spaces in it. With all these conditions in place, the swf item should be offered up to play and the emulator should work.

When uploading to the Archive, accurate or complete descriptions, title, creation date, are all optional but strongly encouraged to provide context for users. Additionally, if you create an image file (jpg, png or gif) and name it itemname_screenshot.ext,, like itemname_screenshot.png, it will become the official screenshot and thumbnail for the item. Notice how we named things here:

We’re here to help you if you run into any snags or issues. There’s no other location on the internet that does things quite this way, so if you do run into problems, feel free to mail Jason Scott about tech support and whatever assistance can be given will be provided.

Where Your Donation Goes

As an independent nonprofit library, the Internet Archive is powered by donations from individual users, and every little bit helps. But have you ever wondered how your donations are used? Or what impact your giving has on our work? The contributions we receive are crucial to continuing our mission—here are a few ways they help!


The Internet Archive builds and maintains all of its own infrastructure, rather than contracting it out. Right now we’re holding more than 70 petabytes of data, including millions of books, hundreds of millions of webpages, and thousands of collections focused on everything from video gaming to opera music. That’s a lot of storage space!

The donations we receive help us purchase servers, provide bandwidth, and pay the electricity bills, so that anyone, anywhere, can access our resources. This year our systems have seen more use than ever before, and we were able to make some upgrades thanks to the generosity of our patrons. Your donations allow us to serve more than 1.5 million visitors every day!


All those servers need people to build and maintain them. The website needs programmers to develop it, the collections need archivists to organize them, and our patrons need librarians to answer their questions. We employ 150 people around the world to scan books, build software, maintain data centers, acquire new materials, and find ways to make the archive better for our users. That’s a small staff for one of the world’s top 300 websites—and in 2020, they’ve stretched even farther by working remotely to keep the archive online. Most of our employees could make more at a profit-driven company, but they’ve chosen instead to work at a nonprofit where every dollar counts and the mission comes first.

Our Projects

Most importantly, the generosity of our users is used to fund our work! These projects include the Wayback Machine, a crucial tool for preserving the history of the web. In an era of disinformation and misinformation, having documentation of what’s being said and who’s saying it is absolutely critical—and your donations help us keep the record straight.

We also use patron contributions to run the Open Library, a free, digital lending library of over 4 million eBooks that can be read in a browser or downloaded for reading off-line. It costs us just $20 to acquire, digitize, and preserve a book forever, making it available to readers around the world—and thanks to the contributions from our patrons, we’re always adding to the stacks!

Other projects that your donations fund include the Decentralized Web initiative, the TV News Archive, and our preservation of open access journals. We also use donations to help acquire, transport, and digitize special collections—such as ephemera from the Tytell Typewriter Company, the Marygrove College Library, or a dizzying array of 78 rpm records.

How to Help

If you’d like to make a donation to the Internet Archive, we’d greatly appreciate your support! Your contribution helps us survive, thrive, and keep growing. In addition to our online donations portal, there are several other options for how you can give. If you would like to make a securities donation or receive information about estate planning, email You can even donate using cryptocurrency!

If you’re unable to donate at the moment—or if you’ve already given—there are still ways you can lend a hand. Using Amazon Smile and setting the Internet Archive as your preferred charity will mean that we get a small donation every time you make a purchase. If your employer matches charitable contributions, you can easily double your impact—check your company here! And if you’re looking for more small ways you can help out, check out this blog post on how to make a difference right now without leaving the house.

We’re so grateful for each and every person who chooses to contribute to us. Thanks for your support, and enjoy the archive!

The Rutgers University Poster Project

Rutgers University and Internet Archive have collaborated to create a limited edition series of risograph posters. Facilitated by Amir Esfahani, Director of Special Art Projects at the Internet Archive, and Mindy Seu, Assistant Professor of Design in the Mason Gross School of the Arts, 14 students in the course Design Practicum gathered unique collections on the Internet Archive and then adapted their findings into an 11×17 graphic. These were printed on a risograph by the Brooklyn-based studio TXT Books

The first 40 people to sign up will receive a packet of these tabloid-size posters. Please sign up here! (Please note: We can only provide shipment to people in the United States). 

The 14 Projects

Jeepneys – 1950s to Present by Pauline Yanes



After World War II, many military Jeeps were left in the Philippines by U.S. troops. These Jeeps were decorated and modified to hold more passengers. Since then, Jeepneys have become the most popular form of transportation in the country. This collection showcases Jeepneys in the Philippines starting from the 1950s, exploring a visual history of this symbol of Filipino culture.

Chinese Calligraphers of the Tang Dynasty 618CE—907CE by Zhongxuan Lin


This collection includes the works of eight famous Chinese calligraphers born in Tang Dynasty. All of the images are photographs of the artwork written on paper or etched on monuments. 

Wartime Utility Furniture by Xinyi Huang


Utility furniture was first produced by the United Kingdom’s government during World War II due to the shortage of materials and usage rations.

Nintendo Box Art — USA vs. Japan by Derek Li



For this collection of comparisons between the USA’s and Japan’s box art for specific Nintendo games, it can be observed that the advent of global releases has removed much of the differences in box artwork with newer releases possessing nearly identical covers between the American and Japanese versions.

Souvenir Spoons Collected by The Fajardo-Reyes Family by Alexa Reyes


Social Media:


A growing collection of spoons gathered over several years by a first generation Filipino-American family from New Jersey. Each souvenir utensil has its own story, own memory, and own journey from traveling anywhere between across the country or across the ocean. 

Qing Dynasty Wealth Gap by Yuchao Wang


These photos display the extreme wealth gap between the Qing Dynasty’s upper class and civilians, revealing an invisible piece of history typically unseen in textbooks.

Fictional Languages (in video games) by Sarah Poon


Video games develop fictional languages that cannot be used anywhere else in reality. Some languages are only audio-based instead of having a traditional visual alphabet. 

Rap Album Design 1993-2020 by Sebastian Lijo

Social Media: 


This collection was made to highlight the progression of graphic design on rap album covers. It begins in 1993, right in the middle of the golden era of rap, and extends to our current day. Two covers per year are shown in order of their appearance on the highest first-week sales charts.

Double Bass Archives by Yogini Borgaonkar


The Double Bass Archives includes performances of classical compositions and each piece’s correlating sheet music. This collection acts as a resource, providing a deep dive into the sound, documentation, and physicality of the Double Bass.

Steven Universe Monopoly by Nicholas Plyler



This collection is meant to archive every single unique piece that comes from the Steven Universe Monopoly board game. These unique pieces can be used to traverse and visit iconic Steven Universe locations.

Horror Movie Posters of Dario Argento by Steve Tomori

Social Media:   


This collection consists of horror movie posters from the director Dario Argento. It features Italian and American posters as well as some alternate versions. These movies were directed, and some even produced, by Dario Argento and span over decades.

Strobridge Lithographing Company’s Circus Posters — 1890s–1950s by Marinelle Manansala



Circus posters were created by Cincinnati’s Strobridge Lithographing Company, printed in the 1890s through the 1950s. These posters focus on attracting the audience by depicting the unusual main acts in a dynamic composition. By 1900, they were known as the “Tiffany of Printers” since they had become one of the largest and most popular printing companies in the United States.

Transparencies by Anna Pittas


Social Media:


A collection of Kodachrome mounted color transparencies were taken between 1950-1970 by members of the Clarke family. The photos are mostly family photos, capturing fun memories.

Covid-19 Street Art by Catie Esposito 

Social Media:


A living collection of street art in the U.S.A. focused around the Coronavirus Pandemic. These works of art are often temporary, so I am attempting to document these murals as I see them, either in person or online. This is an ongoing project until the ‘pandemic’ is finally over.

Fact Checks and Context for Wayback Machine Pages

Fact checking organizations and origin websites sometimes have information about pages archived in the Wayback Machine. The Internet Archive has started to surface some of these annotations for Wayback Machine users. We are attempting to preserve our digital history but recognize the issues around providing access to false and misleading information coming from different sources. By providing convenient links to contextual information we hope that our patrons will better understand what they are reading in the Wayback Machine.

As an example, Politifact has investigated a claim included in a webpage that we archived. has matched this URL to the Politifact review which allowed us to provide a yellow context banner for Wayback Machine patrons. 

In a different case, we surfaced the discovery that a webpage is part of a disinformation campaign according to the researchers at Graphika and link to their research report

As a last example, the Internet Archive archived a Medium post that was subsequently removed based on a violation of their Covid-19 Content Policy.

As a library, our intention is to provide access to source material that might otherwise disappear but doing so with context prominently displayed.

We would like to acknowledge the hard work of the organizations we are building upon in order to provide context for archived web pages:, Check Your Fact, Lead Stories, Politifact, Washington Post Fact-Checker, AP News Fact Check, USA Today Fact Check, Graphika, Stanford Internet Observatory, and

We welcome feedback and suggestions about how to make the Wayback Machine better. 

What Information Should we be Preserving in Filecoin?

The folks at Protocol Labs love their rockets. And outerspace. And exploration.

So when Filecoin, their cryptocurrency-fueled decentralized storage network launched recently, it was no surprise they called it Filecoin Liftoff. In the payload of that Filecoin rocket are treasures from the Internet Archive:

For 15 years, LibriVox has harnessed a global army of volunteers, creating 14,200 free public domain audiobook projects in 100 different languages. Where else can you listen to Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in French, Spanish, English, German or Dutch…for free? Now, phrases of Shakespeare, Poe, Joyce and Dante will be stored across the Filecoin mainnet, broken into packets to be reconstituted when needed—perhaps in a new century.

The same destiny awaits the home movies, stock footage, educational and amateur films in the public domain, lovingly curated by the Prelinger Archives founder, Rick Prelinger. He encourages creatives to download and reuse these videos, creating countless new works like this one by musician Jordan Paul:

Now filmmakers and connoisseurs can sleep easier, knowing that a new, distributed copy of those films lives in the Filecoin network, (along with the main copy and multiple backups in the Internet Archive’s repositories.)

So what’s next Filecoin explorers?

Today, Protocol Labs and the Internet Archive are happy to announce the Filecoin Archives, a new community project to curate, disseminate and preserve important open access information often at risk of being lost. You can get involved in so many ways: by nominating information to be stored, uploading it to the Internet Archive, preserving the data as a Filecoin node while earning Filecoin for sharing your storage capacity.

What information should we be preserving? Please tell us!

How about 166,000 public domain books (60 terabytes) from the Library of Congress? Including 2100 texts about Abraham Lincoln and slavery?

Or Open Access Journal articles? (The Internet Archive has collected 9.1 million of them.)

It takes a host of global voices with diverse viewpoints to ensure that humanity’s most precious knowledge is represented online and preserved. So we need to hear from you. What open access information or datasets are you interested in preserving?

Between now and November 5, please send us your ideas and vote on the others. We will gather your suggestions, add our own, and publish the list from which we will select information to preserve across a global network of Filecoin nodes.

How to send us your suggestions 

Look for the tweet from @JuanBenet– reply to it with:

  • The Name of the Dataset.
  • The size in GB or TB.
  • An HTTP or @IPFS link to the data.
  • Why it matters.
  • #FilecoinArchives

Bonus points if the data is already stored in the Internet Archive or if you upload it there. Vote for ideas by retweeting them and please help us spread the word!

Juan Benet presents his early vision at the 2016 Decentralized Web Summit at the Internet Archive in San Francisco.

In 2015, a young developer named Juan Benet wandered into the Internet Archive headquarters. He painted a picture of a decentralized stack, something he now calls Web3, where the storage, transport and other layers would be distributed across many machines. Together with the DWeb community, we have imagined a web with our values written into the code: values such as privacy, security, reliability, and control over one’s own identity.  With the launch of Filecoin’s mainnet, a piece of that new web is perhaps within reach. 

Now it’s up to us to make sure the payload includes humanity’s most important knowledge.

Library Leaders Forum Explores Impact of Controlled Digital Lending

The third and final session of the 2020 Library Leaders Forum wrapped up Tuesday with a focus on the impact of Controlled Digital Lending on communities to provide broader access to knowledge. A full recording of the session is now available online.

Michelle Wu was honored with the Internet Archive Hero Award for her vision in developing the legal concept behind CDL. In her remarks, the attorney and law librarian shared her thoughts on the development and future of the lending practice. Wu does not see the theory that she designed 20 years ago as revolutionary, but rather a logical application of copyright law that allows libraries to fulfill their mission.

Despite current legal challenges, Wu predicts CDL can continue if libraries make themselves and their users heard.

“We must make sure that the public interests served are fully described, visible and clear to lawmakers and courts at the time they make their decisions,” Wu said. “If we do that, I believe the public interest will prevail and CDL will survive.”

The pandemic has underscored the need for digital access to materials and changed attitudes about CDL among libraries that had previously been risk averse to the practice, Wu said.  

“The closing of our libraries due to COVID has changed that mindset permanently,” Wu said. “It showed how the desire to avoid risk resulted in the actual and widespread harm to populations, depriving them of content at a time when access was more important than ever.”

Because of the pandemic, libraries are now empowered to try innovative practices to serve their patrons.

“With this new heightened awareness, I think the future of access is brighter,” Wu said. “Not only do I think CDL will flourish, but there seems to be very real chance that libraries will more aggressively fight to regain some of the public interest benefits of copyright that they’ve lost over the years.”

In the future, Wu maintained that CDL can ensure a balance for full and equal access to knowledge for every person.

“Reliable access to information is the great equalizer,” Wu said. “Information shapes each of us, and lack of it is part of what increases our divide.”

(A complete profile of Wu’s work can be found here.)

The event also included the virtual ribbon cutting ceremony announcing the reopening of the Marygrove College Library. The Internet Archive now houses its 70,000-volume library online, and has preserved the physical copies, after the institution closed the campus in 2019 and donated its entire collection for digitization. The move preserves books that reflect the college’s rich history of social justice and education programs that largely served women, African Americans and low-income students in Detroit.

“The knowledge that [the books] would still be available and still be utilized just keeps us going as we wrap up the college,” said Marygrove President Elizabeth Burns at the Forum. “It’s a sad, sad time, but it is also a time where we know the impact of the college will continue…It’s a very tangible measure of Marygrove for the future.”

Chris Freeland, director of Open Libraries at the Internet Archive, moderated a panel with Marygrove librarian Mary Kickham-Samy, Mike Hawthorne, a librarian at nearby Wayne State University, and Brenda Bryant, dean and director of Marygrove’s social justice program, to talk about the transformation of the library into a digital format.

“It’s exciting! I’m thrilled that it won’t be in just one small corner,” said Bryant of the library’s move online and value to scholars. Bryant built the nation’s first Master of Arts program in social justice at Marygrove and considered the library one of the best kept secrets on campus. “Like my activist friend Elena Herrada [said], the collection was important because in Detroit, reading is an act of resistance.” 

For more about Marygrove’s story, read our online profile.

Want Some Terabytes from the Internet Archive to Play With?

There are many computer science projects, decentralized storage, and digital humanties projects looking for data to play with. You came to the right place– the Internet Archive offers cultural information available to web users and dataminers alike.

While many of our collections have rights issues to them so require agreements and conversation, there are many that are openly available for public, bulk downloading.

Here are 3 collections, one of movies, another of audio books, and a third are scanned public domain books from the Library of Congress. If you have a macintosh or linux machine, you can use those to run these command lines. If you run each for a little while you can get just a few of the items (so you do not need to download terabytes).

These items are also available via bittorrent, but we find the Internet Archive command line tool is really helpful for this kind of thing:

$ curl -LOs
$ chmod +x ia
$ ./ia download –search=”collection:prelinger” #17TB of public domain movies
$ ./ia download –search=”collection:librivoxaudio” #20TB of public domain audiobooks
$ ./ia download –search=”collection:library_of_congress” #166,000 public domain books from the Library of Congress (60TB)

Here is a way to figure out how much data is in each:

apt-get install jq > /dev/null
./ia search “collection:library_of_congress” -f item_size | jq -r .item_size | paste -sd+ – | bc | numfmt –grouping
./ia search “collection:librivoxaudio” -f item_size | jq -r .item_size | paste -sd+ – | bc | numfmt –grouping
./ia search “collection:prelinger” -f item_size | jq -r .item_size | paste -sd+ – | bc | numfmt –grouping

Sorry to say we do not yet have a support group for people using these tools or finding out what data is available, so for the time being you are pretty much on your own.

Michelle Wu Receives Internet Archive Hero Award for Establishing the Legal Basis for Controlled Digital Lending

Michelle Wu, Internet Archive Hero Award 2020 recipient

Michelle Wu is leading libraries to think and act in new ways to fulfill their missions.

For nearly two decades, she has advocated for preserving and expanding access to materials by responsibly digitizing collections. Using her expertise as an attorney, law librarian and professor, Wu crafted the legal theory behind Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) and has dedicated much of her career to showing libraries how to put the concept into practice.

To honor her innovative and tireless work, Wu has been named the recipient of the 2020 Internet Archive Hero Award. The annual award recognizes those who have exhibited leadership in making information available for digital learners all over the world. Past recipients have included Phillips Academy, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and the Grateful Dead. Michelle received the award during the Library Leaders Forum final session on October 20.

“Michelle Wu was ahead of her time in understanding the transition to the digital era and brought library lending into our new landscape,” said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive.

“Not only did Michelle see a problem coming, she did something about it,” Kahle says. “It’s a combination of being both a visionary on how the world could work and then making concrete steps to get us there.”

With library buildings closed now for safety, the demand for digital materials has grown. The pandemic magnifies the importance of using CDL as a strategy to expand services to the public, says Pamela Samuelson, a distinguished professor of law and information management at the University of California, Berkeley, who admires Wu’s insights as a scholar and librarian.

“She set the example and made people feel comfortable with a concept that was initially a little bit questionable,” says Samuelson. In her copyright classes, Samuelson now draws on Wu’s work to inform her students.

“Michelle’s articles explaining the concept have been very useful for students to have not just the reader’s perspective, or law student’s perspective, but how librarians are really taking the challenge of the digital age,” Samuelson says. “They are making good things happen to carry on the grand tradition of libraries to facilitate as much access as lawfully possible to the public they serve.”

Looking back on her career, Wu says she sort of fell into law. She abandoned plans for medical school after helping her roommate at the University of California San Diego study for the Law School Admission Test. Fascinated with the logic puzzles, she took the LSAT on a whim and did well enough to get a scholarship.

“I found I loved the theory of the law, looking at issues from all sorts of angles and finding a path through,” says Wu, who enrolled at the California Western School of Law and worked part-time at the San Diego County Law Library. She soon realized that the adversarial nature of the legal process didn’t suit how she viewed the law. Law librarianship was a better match, one grounded in collaboration and a commitment to using legal knowledge to educate and assist users in finding meaningful solutions to their legal problems . A year after earning her J.D., Wu got her master’s degree in librarianship with a certificate in law librarianship at the University of Washington.

She landed her first job at George Washington University Law School Library. In 2001, she was hired by the University of Houston School of Law. It was there, following the massive destruction of the school’s library due to Tropical Storm Allison, that Wu focused on the need to protect materials through digitization.

Wu says she began to wonder: “Is there a better way for libraries to prepare society for a world in which there are a growing number of natural disasters?” she recalls. “There are so many risks to our collections, and society depends on long-term access for this information,” Wu says.

Wu developed the theory for a digitization program designed with copyright in mind. What came to be known as CDL, she says, strikes a balance between the interest of the users and copyright owners. A library can lend out only the number of copies that it has legitimately acquired, though the copy can be any format.   The flexibility in format facilitates  more effective access for a wide variety of users, including those  who live remotely or have trouble physically coming to a library building, while also ensuring the preservation of content in situations like natural disasters.

After Houston, Wu worked at the Hofstra School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center. As both a library director and law professor, Wu says she has been well-positioned to advocate for CDL and reason with the skeptics.

 “I haven’t heard a lot of substantive objections. I have heard fear, which is common and understandable anytime you are changing the status quo, but it is something that must be overcome for advancement.” says Wu. “In talking with others about CDL, I  focus on what CDL is and what it is intended to accomplish, which pushes people to engage deeply instead of rejecting the idea out of fear. From my perspective, CDL  is the purest form of balance in copyright that you are going to find in a world of technology, and that balance is difficult to deny when you examine CDL in detail.”

Kyle K. Courtney,  the copyright advisor and program manager at the Harvard Library Office for Scholarly Communication, says from the first time he met Wu, he was inspired by her ideas and willingness to challenge norms. Her research was a major influence on Courtney’s work and career. Together, they co-authored a position statement on CDL.

“It is great to meet your heroes sometimes — and even better to be able to work with them side by side,” says Courtney. “She is not a theoretical scholar. This is what’s awesome: She puts the cutting-edge CDL copyright system to work. That’s why she’s a trailblazer in both words and action, putting libraries at the forefront in our field.”

Wu’s leadership has helped advance the collaborative work of libraries and enabled there to be  more transparency in sharing information, says Courtney. He and Wu have presented on CDL at several conferences and discussed the concept with Congressional staff on Capitol Hill last year.

“She is one of the hardest working members of the library field I know,” Courtney says. “She’s oriented toward practical results and addresses 21st century challenges in multiple environments – public, private and academic. She is a person of remarkable integrity.”

Courtney says Wu’s recognition showcases what leaders in librarianship should aspire to: a successful record of progressive scholarship,  influence on the next generation of librarians and a legacy of hard work that reflects an enthusiasm for libraries.

Sharing the story of CDL on Capitol Hill, Lila Bailey, policy counsel for the Internet Archive, says she was struck by Wu’s ability to connect with staffers. “Michelle explains things in such a clear, intuitive, practical way,” says Bailey, who also has collaborated with Wu on research. “She’s so competent and conscientious.”

Wu has been committed to spreading her knowledge of both academic and practical aspects of the CDL to librarians and policymakers across the country. “She is somebody who came up with a legal theory and spent her career creating a proof of concept for why this is important,” Bailey says. “The Internet Archive sets this very ambitious vision of universal access to all knowledge then it tries to live up to the vision. Michelle embodies this ethos of the Internet Archive to be the change you want to see in the world.”

In June, Wu retired from academia, but she continues to research and mentor emerging librarians. Too often, (outside of the sciences) academia gives more weight to the risk in innovation instead of imagining the opportunities that creative problem-solving can provide, but Wu says that attitude doesn’t serve the public in the best way.

“We can’t sit back and expect everyone automatically to understand the importance of libraries long term. We have to stand up for what we believe, advocate for it, and find solutions that better serve society in an ever-changing world.” Wu says.