Category Archives: Open Library

MacArthur Foundation’s $100 Million Award Finalists

Today, the MacArthur Foundation announced the finalists for its 100&Change competition, awarding a single organization $100 million to solve one of the world’s biggest problems. The Internet Archive’s Open Libraries project, one of eight semifinalists, did not make the cut to the final round. Today we want congratulate the 100&Change finalists and thank the MacArthur Foundation for inspiring us to think big. For the last 15 months, the Internet Archive team has been building the partnerships that can transform US libraries for the digital age and put millions of ebooks in the hands of more than a billion learners. We’ve collaborated with the world’s top copyright experts to clarify the legal framework for libraries to digitize and lend their collections. And we’ve learned an amazing amount from the leading organizations serving the blind and people with disabilities that impact reading.  

To us, that feels like a win.

In the words of MacArthur Managing Director, Cecilia Conrad:

The Internet Archive project will unlock and make accessible bodies of knowledge currently located on library shelves across the country. The proposal for curation, with the selection of books driven not by commercial interests but by intellectual and cultural significance, is exciting. Though the legal theory regarding controlled digital lending has not been tested in the courts, we found the testimony from legal experts compelling. The project has an experienced, thoughtful and passionate team capable of redefining the role of the public library in the 21st Century.

Copyright scholar and Berkeley Law professor, Pam Samuelson (center), convenes a gathering of more than twenty legal experts to help clarify the legal basis for libraries digitizing and lending physical books in their collections.

So, the Internet Archive and our partners are continuing to build upon the 100&Change momentum. We are meeting October 11-13 to refine our plans, and we invite interested stakeholders to join us at the Library Leaders Forum. If you are a philanthropist interested in leveraging technology to provide more open access to information—well, we have a project for you.

For 20 years, at the Internet Archive we have passionately pursued one goal: providing universal access to knowledge. But there is almost a century of books missing from our digital shelves, beyond the reach of so many who need them. So we cannot stop. We now have the technology, the partners and the plan to transform library hard copies into digital books and lend them as libraries always have. So all of us building Open Libraries are moving ahead.

Members of the Open Libraries Team at the Internet Archive headquarters, part of a global movement to provide more equitable access to knowledge.

Remember: a century ago, Andrew Carnegie funded a vast network of public libraries because he recognized democracy can only exist when citizens have equal access to diverse information. Libraries are more important than ever, welcoming all of society to use their free resources, while respecting readers’ privacy and dignity. Our goal is to build an enduring asset for libraries across this nation, ensuring that all citizens—including our most vulnerable—have equal and unfettered access to knowledge.

Thank you, MacArthur Foundation, for inspiring us to turn that idea into a well thought-out project.

Onward!

–The Open Libraries Team

Open Library New Features and Fixes

OpenLibrary team has added pages for 200,000 new modern works and rolled out a brigade of fixes and features.

screen shot of book reader

Prioritized by feedback from openlibrary patrons,

  • Full-text search through all books hosted on the Internet Archive is back online and is faster than ever. You can try the new feature, for example, to see over 115,000 places where works reference Benjamin Franklin’s maxim: “Little strokes fell great oaks”.
  • Updated new Book Reader, which looks great on mobile devices and provides a much clearer and simpler book borrowing experience. Try out the new Book Reader and see for yourself!

There are a few small changes in the BookReader that we think you’ll like specifically. EPUB and PDF loans can be initiated from within an existing BookReader loan. What this means for Open Library users is two pretty cool things you’ve long requested:

  • Users who start loans from the BookReader can borrow either EPUB or PDF formats, and switch formats during the loan period.
  • Users who start loans from the BookReader can return loans early, even EPUBs and PDFs.

 

screen shot showing onscreen areas to download and return books

We hope these changes will delight readers, empower developers, and help the community to make even more quality contributions. The path ahead looks even more promising. With clear direction and exciting redesign concepts in the works, the Open Library team is eager to bring you an Open Library at the cutting edge of the 21st century while giving you access to five centuries’ of texts.

image from old reading textbook

Thank you to Jessamyn West, Brenton Cheng, Mek Karpeles, Giovanni Damiola, Richard Carceres, and the many volunteers in the community.

[from the Open Library blog]

Sharing Data for Better Discovery and Access

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The Internet Archive and the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) are pleased to announce a joint collaborative program to enhance sharing of collections from the Internet Archive in the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

ia-logo-220x221The Internet Archive will work with interested libraries and content providers to help ensure their metadata meets DPLA’s standards and requirements. After their content is digitized, the metadata would then be ready for ingestion into the DPLA if the content provider has a current DPLA provider agreement.

The DPLA is excited to collaborate with the Internet Archive in this effort to improve metadata quality overall, by making it more consistent with DPLA requirements, including consistent rights statements. Better data means better access. In addition to providing DPLA compliant metadata services, the Internet Archive also offers a spectrum of digital collection services, such as digitization, storage and preservation. Libraries, archives and museums who chose Internet Archive as their service provider have the added benefit of having their content made globally available through Internet Archive’s award winning portals, OpenLibrary.org and Archive.org.

“We are thrilled to be working with the DPLA”, states Robert Miller, Internet Archive General Manager of Digital Libraries. “With their emphasis on providing not only a portal and a platform, but also their advocacy for public access of content, they are a perfect partner for us”.

Rachel Frick, DPLA Business Development Director says, “The Internet Archive’s mission of ‘Universal Access to All Knowledge’, coupled with their end-to-end digital library solutions complements our core values.”

Program details are available upon request. Please contact:
Rachel Frick – DPLA Business Development Director, Rachel@dp.la
Robert Miller – General Manager of Digital Libraries, robert@archive.org

Popular subjects in our book collection

We took a leisurely stroll through half a million books today, and we noticed that lots of the books were congregating around some popular categories.  This isn’t an exhaustive list, we just thought it would nice to share a little of the landscape with you.  Click through to download or borrow these books through our Open Library site.

Why Publishers Support E-book Lending with OpenLibrary.org: A Q&A with Smashwords Mark Coker

Photo of Mark Coker

Mark Coker Founder, CEO Smashwords

This Q&A kicks off a series of conversations with visionary publishers who support e-book digital library lending with OpenLibrary.org.

Mark Coker, Founder, CEO and Chief Author Advocate, founded Smashwords  to change the way books are published, marketed and sold.  In just three years it has become the leading ebook publishing and distribution platform for independent authors and small publishers.  The Wall Street Journal named Mark Coker one of the “Eight Stars of Self-Publishing” in 2010. He is a contributing columnist for the Huffington Post, where he writes about ebooks and the future of publishing. For Smashwords updates, follow Mark on Twitter at @markcoker.

Q. What is the relationship between publishers and Open Library?

A: “There is an intersection of common interest with publishers and Open Library – the passionate desire to get books to readers. The innovators at Open Library understand that the way people access books is an ongoing evolution and they are at the forefront of finding solutions to support all the key stakeholders – publishers and distributors, authors and most of all, readers.

Q: How do Libraries help to support book distribution?

old man reading computer

“Its simple – the more readers have a chance to engage with a book, the more likely they are to recommend it, or purchase it.”


A: Open Library purchases your books and shares them with readers by creating a web page for each book, with a cover photo and descriptive information. There are prompts to read, borrow and buy. Open Library has more than 4,600,000 unique visitors a month.

Q: What makes Smashwords different from other publishing organizations?

A: Smashwords represents 19,000 indie authors and small presses who handle the writing, editing and pricing of their books. We distribute these titles to major retailers such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and Diesel. We believe that authors should maintain the creative and financial control of their work and receive the lion share of income. Our authors keep upwards of 85% of the profits on the books we distribute.

Q. Why are some publishers and authors excited about e-books accessed via public libraries?

“If you build it, they will come.”

A: Our authors and publishers rely on Smashwords to open up new opportunities to reach readers. We’re working with most of the biggest indie authors, and many of them are excited about libraries. Open Library and its partners believe, “if you build it, they will come and I agree.  As demand for ebooks through a digital public library systems increase, publishers will better understand the value of partnering with Open Library. We hope they utilize Smashwords to reach these new distribution venues.

Buying E-Books from Smashwords

Young Adult e-Books by Amanda Hocking available on OpenLibrary.org

Smashwords’ best-selling authors contribute to OpenLibrary.org

Smashwords, the largest distributor of independently published literature, recently provided the Internet Archive and OpenLibrary.org with its first installment of e-Books from best known, best-selling e-Book authors including: Young Adult sensation Amanda Hocking; Fantasy author, Brian Pratt; Romance novelist Ruth Ann Nordin; and Business Expert, Gerald Weinberg.

Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords believes that libraries are crucial to every publisher’s survival because they provide the face to face connection between readers, authors and books.

“We see tremendous value in partnering with the Internet Archive. Their visionary leadership is helping to create a worldwide digital public library.”
Mark Coker, CEO, Smashwords

The deposit by Smashwords was a first attempt at demonstrating the feasibility of making modern books more globally accessible through OpenLibrary.org. Next up – the creation of a new model that supports the on-going purchase of e-Books by participating libraries.

“The publishing world is rapidly changing,” asserts Coker, “There’s plenty of room for numerous distribution models and in my opinion, publishers should be bending over backwards to support these initiatives.”

Open Library Buying e-Books from Publishers

The Internet Archive is on campaign to buy e-Books from publishers and authors; making more digital books available to readers who prefer using laptops, reading devices or library computers.  Publishers such as Smashwords, Cursor and A Book Apart have already contributed e-Books to OpenLibrary.org – offering niche titles and the works of best-selling “indy” authors including Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrath.

“Libraries are our allies in creating the best range of discovery mechanisms for writers and readers—enabling open and browser-based lending through the OpenLibrary.org means more books for more readers, and we’re thrilled to do our part in achieving that.” – Richard Nash, founder of Cursor.

American libraries spend $3-4 billion a year on publisher’s materials.  OpenLibrary.org and its more than 150 partnering libraries around the US and the world are  leading the charge to increase their combined digital book catalog of 80,000+ (mostly 20th century) and 2 million+ older titles.

“As demand for e-Books increases, libraries are looking to purchase more titles to provide better access for their readers.” – Digital Librarian Brewster Kahle, Founder of the Internet Archive.

This new twist on the traditional lending model promises to increase e-book use and revenue for publishers. OpenLibrary.org offers an e-Book lending library and digitized copies of classics and older books as well as books in audio and DAISY formats for those qualified readers.

All Icelandic literature to go online?

Þorsteinn Hallgrímsson, formerly of the National Library of Iceland, had a big idea:  digitize all Icelandic literature all the way to the current day and make it available to everyone interested in reading it. The Internet Archive was eager to be a part of this bold vision. I am in Iceland now, and because the financial crisis and Icelandic reaction to the US Department of Justice’s subpoenaing the tweets and Facebook account of a sitting member of the Icelandic Parliament, this project may have the momentum it needs to happen.

Ingibjörg Steinunn Sverrisdóttir, the National Librarian, and Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the Minister of Culture, met to discuss this possibility this week. I have met with several other ministers and parliamentarians in the last few days to discuss how this could be done.

The total literature of Iceland is under 50,000 books, which is easily scannable in 2 years by 12 people using the scribe scanners of the Internet Archive. David Lesperance, a lawyer from Canada who has helped support the Room to Read project, has offered to fundraise for this project; the Internet Archive has offered scanning technology, training, and backend software; and the Library has offered to administer the project. A digital lending system could be a way that they decide to limit access to a book to one person at a time in order to balance the interests of the writers and publishers while still having some access to everything from anywhere forever for free. Egill Helgason, of the Icelandic TV network, interviewed Brewster about this (photo below, video on the Archive).

If they decide to go ahead, Iceland could be the first country to have its complete literature go online. Fingers crossed.

The next step beyond this that is interesting to many here is to have Iceland become a “Switzerland of Bits,” where the laws will help protect the historical record from foreign or corporate danger. This is being promoted by Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of parliament. The Internet Archive works with many libraries around the world, and everyone wants to make sure that the digital copies are safe for the long term. Iceland is taking steps to be a good place for this.

As an aside, with all their inexpensive “green” electricity from their hydro electric and geothermal plants, I found it interesting that they are growing some vegetables under lights in the long winters as a way to become more self sufficient. With LED lights that can be tuned to produce specific wavelengths at different parts of the growth cycle, this approach could be a fairly energy efficient way to grow food for their people.

-Brewster Kahle

New BookReader!

By mang

We’re pleased to announce the release of our freshly re-designed BookReader on the Internet Archive.

The updated BookReader has these great new features (links will take you to a live example):

  • Redesigned user interface that maximizes the amount of space given to the book. Click the down arrow on the navigation bar to hide the user interface. (The Origin of Species)
  • Navigation bar that helps show your location in the book and navigate through it. Search results and chapter markers (if available) show up on the navigation bar.
  • New Read Aloud feature reads the book as audio in most browsers.  No special software is needed – just click the speaker icon  and go!
  • Tables of contents are being automatically generated for most books and can be edited or added manually through the Open Library site.  The chapter markers appear in the new navigation bar. (Launching Out Into The Deep in Wake of the War Canoe)
  • Vastly improved full-text search.  Search results are shown on the navigation bar and include a snippet of text near the matched search term. (Search results for “hawk” in book of birds)
  • More sharing options – the new Share dialog gives you to option to choose how to link to the book and set options when embedding the BookReader on a blog or website.  As always, you can just copy and paste the address in your browser address bar to get a shareable link to the current page. (Page 65 of Aviation in Canada, 1-page mode)
  • Touch gesture support – swipe to flip pages in two-page mode, pinch to zoom on iOS.
  • Improved support for tablet devices like the iPad.
  • Updated UI for the embedded BookReader – now includes “expando” button to view the book in a new browser window.
  • Integration with Open Library – books that have an Open Library record can have their title and table of contents edited through the Open Library site. The chapter headings on Open Library link directly into the BookReader. (Flatland table of contents on Open Library)

Here’s an embedded book for you to play with.  For any of our publicly accessible books you can embed it on your blog too by getting the embed code from the Share dialog!

Incredible thanks to our fantastic team for making it happen:

  • Raj Kumar – Read Aloud
  • Mike McCabe – table of contents
  • Peter Brantley – BookServer wrangler
  • Edward Betts – full-text search
  • George Oates – new user interface
  • Lance Arthur – markup and CSS
  • Alexis Rossi – QA
  • Jeff Kaplan – QA
  • Michael Ang (yours truly) – Putting It All Together(tm)
  • All of the Archive staff and contributors that make putting the books online possible!

As always, the BookReader remains open source and you can look at our developer documentation for information on reusing it on other sites. We’d like to thank user yankl on github for contributing a patch related to using the BookReader with right-to-left languages.