Looking around your home in the new year and wondering what to do with all the stuff you’ve accumulated? You’re not alone — turns out 54% of Americans are overwhelmed by the amount of clutter around them. As people move or downsize, they are often in a dilemma about what to do with their beloved books and records. The same goes for colleges and libraries when they close or relocate. So what’s a preservation-minded person or organization supposed to do with their extra books, records, or other media?
The Internet Archive is here to help! We welcome donations with open arms — from single books to entire libraries. The Internet Archive seeks to preserve and digitize one copy of every book, record, CD, film, and microfilm in support of our mission to provide “Universal Access to All Knowledge.”
“Increasingly, people are turning to the Internet Archive to preserve materials and give them new life online,” said Liz Rosenberg, donation manager. “Staff members can even help to arrange for a convenient pick up of larger donations.”
“We are always looking for items that we don’t have already or ones that are in better shape,” said Rosenberg, who encourages people to check online, if convenient, if a copy is needed. For large collections or donations with special circumstances, Internet Archive will go onsite to pack and ship items at no expense to the donor. “Our goal is to make this process easy for donors.”
Internet Archive receives a variety of materials from individuals and organizations. Boxes can be mailed to facilities in Richmond, California, or brought to drop off locations in the U.S. and England. The Archive tries to digitize materials and make them available publicly, as funding allows.
Recent personal donations have included a collection of railroad maps and atlases from the 1800s. Also, a large collection of fragile 78rpm records was donated by a person in Washington, D.C., and 18,000 LP, 45, and 78 records were donated from a home in Arkansas.
We are happy to give donors a receipt for tax purposes and celebrate the donation on the archive.org site if appropriate.
“We would love to provide a forever home for your media wherever you are located, however much you have,” said Rosenberg. “I love doing this role. It restores my faith in the goodness of the world every day.”
When Marygrove College in Detroit decided to close its doors in 2019 due to financial pressures, the first question on the minds of many community members was: what about the library? Today, the entire Marygrove College community is celebrating the reopening of the Marygrove College Library in partnership with the Internet Archive.
Marygrove College’s roots go back to 1905 when it was started by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a progressive Catholic order known for its commitment to social justice. Founded as a women’s institution, it became co-ed and predominantly African American over time, changing with the demographics of its neighborhood in northwest Detroit.
The liberal arts college, which typically had an enrollment of less than 1,000, attracted students interested in teacher education and social work programs, as well as English, history, philosophy and religious studies. The college offered graduate programs and some alumni went on to become physicians, lawyers and scientists.
True to its mission, Marygrove often served students from marginalized communities with limited means. Changes in access to federal Pell grants hurt the institution’s finances, and enrollment dwindled in recent years.
“The college was deeply in debt. Like many small colleges, institutional scholarships don’t pay the bills. The school was borrowing to make payroll. It was not a good picture,” says Marygrove President Elizabeth Burns. “With great sorrow, the board voted in summer 2017 to close undergraduate programs.”
The institution tried to survive by offering only graduate programs – many online. But that model proved to be unsustainable. In December of 2019, Marygrove closed its doors for good.
“It was very difficult,” says Frank Rashid, who taught English at the college for 37 years and lives within a mile of the campus. “It was a great place to teach. Despite our size and obscurity, we had a strong faculty and great students.”
As the college emptied its buildings, the fate of Marygrove’s beloved library was up in the air. No other library was able to house the entire collection, which included more than 70,000 books and 3,000 journals, in addition to microfilm, maps, visual media, and more. The college explored selling the books, but buyers were only interested in portions of the collection. Even disposing of the library content would cost thousands of dollars that the college couldn’t afford.
Marygrove’s solution: Donate the entire library to the Internet Archive for digitization and preservation.
“We were able to preserve the entire collection that we had built over the decades and make it available to everyone,” Burns says.
“There was a sense that all was not lost,” Burns says. “The legacy of the collection will be available for ongoing education. That really helped ease the pain of the transition.”
The library had a rich collection of books in history (particularly primary sources on local Detroit studies and Michigan), English, philosophy, religious studies, social work, political science, economics, psychology, business and social justice.
“The library was the best kept secret at Marygrove,” says Brenda Bryant, who started the nation’s first master’s degree program in social justice at the college 20 years ago. While the closure of the building was heartbreaking, she says having the collection digitized provides access to its great array of nonfiction and fiction books (such as The God of Small Things by Arhundati Roy) , as well as films about social justice movements.
Byrant says the college was ahead of its time in recognizing the importance of studying these issues. With racial equity, immigration and other social justice issues so relevant today, she hopes people will take the opportunity to read about the history of prior movements.
The value of the collection extends well beyond the Marygrove community. Librarians from Wayne State University, also located in Detroit, share an admiration for Marygrove’s collection and decision to digitize.
“Marygrove has been fundamental for Detroit in educating first-generation, low-income college students and providing high quality education to the community,” says Alexandra Sarkcozy, a liaison librarian for history at Wayne State. “The librarians built a robust academic collection and took beautiful care of it. I think it’s wonderful that it was able to be preserved.”
And, as Wayne State thinks about how to lend out its own digital materials, it may consider Controlled Digital Lending as a model, adds Sarkcozy, which is how the Marygrove collections are being made available to users.
Using Controlled Digital Lending practices with the Marygrove collections—lending out a digital copy one at a time—felt like a responsible way to continue to provide access, says Burns. And rare materials that aren’t traditionally prioritized are not lost to history.
Rashid says he was initially reluctant to let go of the print materials, but realized that digital lending opened up the possibility of access around the globe. “We are trying to share resources with scholars and students elsewhere,” says Rashid, noting it also has the additional convenience of researchers being able to look up information from home.
The Archive hired local help to pack up the Marygrove books, load them onto trucks, and transport them to centers for storage and scanning. The empty library was repurposed as a lecture hall, sports facility and cafeteria for a new high school that now operates on the campus.
Mary Kickham-Samy served as the director of the library at Marygrove from 2017 until its closure in December 2019. She was glad to see the collection donated intact and thinks alumni, in particular, will enjoy browsing through the library. “It’s beautiful the way Internet Archive has captured the materials…It’s just a win-win situation,” said Kickham-Samy, who is grateful that community members and researchers everywhere will now have access to the collection.
“When I heard Marygrove was going to be closing, it broke my heart,” said Valerie Deering, a poet and 1972 graduate of Marygrove. Deering didn’t fully realize what it would mean to digitize the library until she started browsing the collection online. “Actually seeing it now—this was a stroke of genius. This Internet library stuff is a pretty good idea.”
As the global pandemic forced schools to remote instruction earlier this year, the pressure was on to make as many resources as possible available in digital form.
Evangelical Seminary moved its classes entirely online in March, closing most of its campus in Myerstown, Pennsylvania—including access to materials in the library. At the same time, the seminary was finalizing a partnership with three other higher education institutions that prompted a review of any resource duplication.
So, in July, Evangelical decided to transform its physical library collection into a digital library and donate more than 80,000 books to the Internet Archive.
“Faculty members love the feel of a hard copy book and taking a book off the shelf in the library,” says Anthony Blair, president of the seminary. “It was hard and we had to talk that through, but everybody agreed this was a smart thing to do and in the end, it was what’s best for students.”
Once scanned and digitized, students—and the public at large—will have free access to the books at any time from anywhere. Many of the volumes were out of print and fragile. The donation allows the seminary’s vast collection, with its specialities in biblical studies and Wesleyan theology, to be preserved.
“We took advantage of this opportunity. It’s a donation, but we still have access to all these books. They have better access than before—and so do people around the world,” Blair says. “It just made sense.”
At Evangelical, students were increasingly commuting to campus or taking online courses only; some living as far away as Singapore and Korea. The seminary sold its residential housing five years ago because of the shifting demographics.
Evangelical offers eight graduate degree programs including a doctorate of theology, master of divinity and master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. About 150 of its students are seeking a degree (about 90 on the PhD path) and another 50 are taking courses independently.
The seminary had recently begun serving a wider constituency and joined The Digital Theological Library (DTL) to give students easier access to resources. As usage grew with DTL, Blair says talk ramped up about moving to an all-digital library.
Also, Evangelical recently joined a seminary network, Kairos, headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and is in the process of fully merging within the next few years. As the schools come together and combine resources, the timing was right to make the donation. This summer it took less than two weeks for the books to be packed, loaded into trucks and shipped for scanning—all paid for by the Internet Archive.
The seminary has shared news of its move to an all-digital library with alumni, donors and students, all of whom have been overwhelmingly positive, says Blair. As students wait for the collection to be moved online over the next two years, the seminary is partnering with two physical libraries for interlibrary loan services.Blair says he was pleased to have Evangelical’s collection join the Claremont School of Theology’s donation from earlier this year: “Between our donation and their donation, the theology collection at the Internet Archive will be enhanced quite a bit and our students will benefit.”
In January, Robin Hartman learned major renovations planned at Hope International University in Fullerton, California, meant the library would have to give up 25 percent of its space. That forced Hartman, director of library services at the 2,000-student private university, to make some tough decisions.
What would she do with the back issues of periodicals now that there would be only six shelving sections to store the journals and magazines instead of 40? Hartman ended up keeping periodicals that were only available in print and less than 10 years old. That left her with volumes of older issues that she didn’t want to just throw in a dumpster.
Hartman contacted Internet Archive to give Hope’s vast collection of older periodicals a new digital life. Working from her home during the COVID-19 crisis this summer, she instructed the construction crew and student workers to box up the excess journals—191 boxes in all. Internet Archive arranged to provide pallets and plastic wrap to safely pack the periodicals. The boxes were loaded onto a semi-truck and transported to San Francisco for preservation at no expense to the university.
“When I found out Internet Archive was able to take the older periodicals that we couldn’t keep, I was really thrilled,” Hartman says. “I was able to tell my faculty they are not gone forever. They will be digitized eventually and made available online.”
The donation includes a range of popular magazines and academic journals linked to the Christian university’s majors such as: Clinical Psychology, Educational Leadership, Family and Society, Journal of American History, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Journal of Spirituality and Mental Health, Journal of Sports Management, and Pastoral Psychology.
“I feel much better that they are going to a good home. They are good, valid sources,” Hartman says.
Hartman is telling librarian colleagues about the donation in hopes of interesting others in adding to Internet Archive’s collection. Many libraries are being reconfigured to make room for tutoring or snack bars and are facing financial cuts in the wake of the pandemic. There is also a shift in preference for digital among students over print journals, notes Hartman, making libraries rethink their collections.
“The periodicals will be more useful online,” says Hartman, who plans to continue donating materials to the Archive. “Resource sharing is important for libraries these days. Internet Archive was a great solution for us. I think Internet Archive is a way of sharing resources for the good of all the library communities.”
If your library is interested in donating print journals to Internet Archive for preservation and digitization, please learn more on the Donations page.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…
— Opening line from “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens
For those deeply engaged in cryptocurrencies, the words of Charles Dickens, written 160 years ago, have the ring of prophecy. 2018 was the best and worst of times for those holding bitcoin, ether, OMG or XRP. And yet, for some savvy community members who donated their currencies for good, 2018 was also a “season of light.” This year Ripple founder, Chris Larsen, donated $29 million in XRP to fulfill the wishes of every classroom teacher on DonorsChoose.org. In March, OmiseGO and Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik Buterin donated $1 million in crypto to help refugees in Uganda. The anonymous philanthropist behind the Pineapple Fund gave away 5,104 bitcoins to 60 charities, including us. Pine writes, “I consider this project a success. If you’re ever blessed with crypto fortune, consider supporting what you aspire our world to be :).”
Now, to close out the year, three generous supporters of the Internet Archive are offering to match any cryptocurrency donation up to a total of $25,000, made before the end of 2018. For the next few days, you can quadruple your impact for good. What better way to put your cryptocurrencies to work this year than by ensuring everyone will have access to world’s knowledge, for free and with complete reader privacy on archive.org?
So why should crypto communities support the Internet Archive? Well, we’ve been experimenting alongside crypto founders, developers and dreamers since 2011. Five years ago, the Internet Archive’s founder, Brewster Kahle, wrote this reflection on Dreams Reflected in Bitcoin. Back then, Kahle wrote about early bitcoiners, “Love the dreamers– they make life worth living.”
When asked why he is so interested in accepting and promoting Bitcoin, Kahle’s response is one that many people in the Bitcoin community can relate to. “I think that at the Internet Archive,” Kahle said in a phone interview, “we see ourselves as coming from the net. As an organization we exist because of the internet, and I think of Bitcoin as a creature of the net. It’s a fantastically interesting idea, and to the extent that we’re all trying to build a new future, a better future, let’s try and round it out.”
So as we wind down our 2018 fundraising campaign, we ask our friends in the crypto community to help the Internet Archive “round it out.” We’re about $460,000 from reaching our year-end goal. And right now your crypto donation will be matched 3-to-1. We accept dozens of altcoins now, thanks to a partnership with Changelly. Your support will go to building a new and better future on the net. We promise you, it will be crypto well spent.