Announced today, Connie Chan, Supervisor of San Francisco’s District 1, will receive the 2023 Internet Archive Hero Award. Supervisor Chan will be presented the award on stage at next week’s evening celebration at the Internet Archive.
In April, Supervisor Chan, whose district includes the Internet Archive, authored and unanimously passed a resolution at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, backing the Internet Archive and the digital rights of all libraries. “At a time when we are seeing an increase in censorship and book bans across the country, we must move to preserve free access to information,” said Supervisor Chan, about the resolution. “I am proud to stand with the Internet Archive, our Richmond District neighbor, and digital libraries throughout the United States.”
Many thanks to Supervisor Chan for being a strong advocate for libraries, and for making San Francisco the first municipality to codify the importance of digital libraries and controlled digital lending in a resolution. For this fearless act of standing with libraries, the Internet Archive is proud to honor Supervisor Connie Chan with the 2023 Internet Archive Hero Award.
Join us next week on Thursday, October 12 at 7pm PT, as Supervisor Chan accepts the award live on stage during our evening celebration. Tickets are available for in-person attendance or the livestream.
Carl Malamud is a man with a mission: To make public information freely available to the public.
For more than three decades, Malamud has not just talked in theory about why government materials should be online—he has taken action to digitize and upload massive amounts of data himself. He is the reason many laws and judicial opinions, corporate filings and patents, Congressional hearings and government films are at the fingertips of the American people.
“Our democracy, particularly today, depends on an informed citizenry, with so much misinformation and disinformation,” said Malamud, 63, founder of the nonprofit organization Public.Resource.Org. “We have to learn how our government works, what our fundamental values are, and we have to communicate that with our fellow citizens.”
Malamud is a disrupter for the public good.
His effort to unleash government data behind paywalls has put him at odds with many trying to profit from dispensing public records. Yet in case after case, Malamud is winning and adding to the body of open knowledge freely available online.
In recognition of his relentless work on behalf of the public interest, Malamud has been honored with the 2022 Internet Archive Hero Award.
“Carl has spent his career getting public access to the public domain, bringing government information to everyone with no restrictions,” said Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle. “He’s been unwavering in his vision, seeing how the works of governments can be leveraged by everyone using this digital technology.”
Although he’s not in the civil service, Kahle said Malamud acts as a civil servant. He sides with advancing the public interest over corporate profits, and has been a pioneer in how to operate a nonprofit in the internet space. Malamud’s tenacity and drive is at the essence of what it means to be a hero, said Kahle: “Somebody who puts themselves at risk or in harm’s way to get their vision built.”
After studying the convergence of computers and communication in college, Malamud went to Washington, D.C., to work in public policy. Malamud developed an expertise in databases, networking, and technology to broadcast audio and video over the internet. In 1993, he started the nonprofit Internet Multicasting Service and ran the first radio station on the internet out of an office in the National Press Building. (An archive of his broadcasts from 1993-95 are available here.)
One of Malamud’s early projects was putting corporate information from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission — the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system (EDGAR) online. This allowed investors, journalists and citizens to download information about SEC filings for free, rather than pay a fee to a private company.
The work was funded with a grant from the National Science Foundation, and with money left over from the project, Malamud put the databases from the U.S. Patent Office online. In each instance, Malamud had to first purchase the database from.
“I got a grant from the American people, to buy the data from the American people, so I could give it back to the American people,” said Malamud, who often uses such plain language in his arguments for unlocking information into the public realm.
Demonstrating by doing
Getting the SEC data online was a seminal event, said Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media, noting he and others were inspired by Malamud’s fearless “hacktivism” approach. “It was the beginning of the open government data movement,” he said. “I’ve always called Carl an unsung hero ever since that, because he’s the guy who started it all in motion.”
Faced with pushback from entities that say it’s too hard or it will take too long to put information online, Malamud moves forward and demonstrates it can be done affordably—and the public will use it. It was Malamud who set up the first internet demonstration in the White House during Bill Clinton’s presidency. He advised the administration, and others that followed, on technology policy and identified opportunities to make government records available online—and demonstrated it’s possible.
“Carl has an unwavering commitment to the core principle that citizens should have access to the law and to government documents….and he’s establishing an important legal precedent,” said Tom Kalil, former White House aide to President Clinton and President Obama. “He’s not just a public intellectual writing op-eds, but actually getting things done.’
A passion for changing systems
Malamud has also been a prolific writer. He is the author of nine books, including “Exploring the Internet,” all composed in long hand on paper.
His writing caught the eye of John Podesta in the early 1990s, who was working for President Clinton and figuring out how to move from paper to digital archiving.
“Carl and I had a passion for [the idea] that public records should be public and electronic records should be preserved,” said Podesta. “Carl was both a pioneer and advocate for the power of the net as a democratic tool.”
Podesta said Malamud was a force on Capitol Hill trying to shape legislation, and when he started the Center for American Progress, in 2003, Podesta hired Malamud to be chief technology officer of the progressive think tank. “Carl is friendly and funny, but what really makes him effective is that he’s dogged and passionate. He wears that on his sleeve,” Podesta said. “He just gets right to the point, and I really admire that in him.”
From pushing for access to material from the Smithsonian Institution to the House of Representatives , Podesta said his single-handed influence is clear. “He’s really changed systems,” Podesta said. “He just won’t accept the status quo.”
Podesta said Malamud has had the most impact going right to the source of the data, trying to convince the entities to put information in the public domain.
“It’s extremely valuable in a democracy to make sure that people have not just theoretical access, but real access,” to information, Podesta said. “Oftentimes, the burdens are either bureaucracy or ridiculous charges to get public documents. No one challenges that, but Carl does.”
A battle for the ages
In 2007, Malamud started Public.Resource.Org, based in Sonoma County, California. He has 18 people on contract and numerous collaborators, and works with a dozen pro bono law firms to advance the mission of the nonprofit. The organization operates with a grant from Arcadia (a charitable trust of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin) and donations from individuals. He appeals to players across the political spectrum with a variety of tactics: writing letters, making speeches, talking to officials in person, and, when necessary, filing lawsuits to challenge claims of copyright.
Recently, Malamud had a big win with a U.S. Supreme Court case (Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org) after he posted the Official Code of Georgia and was sued for copyright violations—a decision that has had a ripple effect across the country. For nearly a decade, he’s been embroiled in a legal fight to put building, electrical and other public safety codes with the force of law online.
“I look for things that should be available and are not,” Malamud said, then simply lays out why information should be free with clear, defensible reasons. “You have to have a story that makes sense.”
Malamud has worked at this cause like no one else, determined to make sure the public realizes what’s at stake when powerful people are concealing the world of knowledge, said David Halperin, a Washington, D.C., attorney. Halperin was with the Clinton administration and has been counsel to Public.Resource.Org since 2012. “He puts it on them to have to explain why their special interests are more important than global progress and democracy,” he said.
Halperin said Malamud is effective because he is relentless and shares his infectious love of democracy. “And, he is willing to be the person who, when everyone else says, ‘Shut up and get along,’ says: ‘No, this still isn’t right. I’m not going to be cuddly here. It’s time for me to be the moral voice, to be the energy in the room that says, Okay, everyone else may now feel it’s time to be collegial. I feel like it’s time to be just.’”
Corynne McSherry, legal director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has represented Malamud in several cases and said he knows how to adjust his strategy to persuade others and be creative in his messaging.
“He tries to help people understand what it is he’s up to, because it’s not always clear to everybody,” McSherry said. “When you can’t see the world that the person is building towards, that person has to imagine it for you—and that’s the thing he does.”
Since Malamud was involved in the early days of the internet, he embraced the potential promise of the technology to open up knowledge, McSherry said.
“We live in a nation of rules, and we should have the ability to actually know what they are,” McSherry said, although for a long time those rules were only available to experts with special access. “That changed. Pulling our governmental structures and all our laws into the 21st century is not a small task, but that’s what Malamud took on.”
Drawing inspiration from history
To make his case in the court of public opinion, Malamud has used humor and tapped into his artistic side. He produced a video about making building and electrical codes open, “Show Me The Manual,” and a short movie about his philosophy, “Open Access Ninja.” He speaks at conferences and universities, tailoring his message to attorneys, government workers, students, or fellow open advocates to advance his cause. The Internet Archive hosts a collection of his videos, texts and other materials online, as well as FedFlix, which includes government films Malamud uploaded and curated.
Malamud has expanded his efforts internationally, working with organizations in India to scan government and cultural information. His Public Library of India collections on the Internet Archive are some of the most popular India resources on the net.He’s become an Indian food expert, of sorts, too, said McSherry, and often expresses his gratitude to her and other attorneys working on his behalf by gifting them with Indian spices.
Since he began working in this space, Malamud said he’s encouraged to see more forward thinking about open data. Still, barriers exist. Most often, he said, he’s up against money and control. While Malamud said he’s making inroads in the power struggle, he said it’s “sort of Whack-A-Mole” with every win followed by another challenge popping up.
When he needs a little inspiration himself, Malamud said he reads from his library of writings from early American feminists and civil rights leaders. Sometimes he quotes Martin Luther King Jr. (“Change only comes with continuous struggle”) or Gandhi (“A public worker has to learn to endure with fortitude.’)
A recurring lesson he’s gleaned from others in history who had fought against the establishment: “You can, in fact, change the way the world works—but you have to be patient. It takes time.”
Carl Malamud, founder of Public.Resource.Org and a champion for making government information accessible to all, will receive the 2022 Internet Archive Hero Award. He will be presented the award at next week’s evening celebration, “Building Democracy’s Library.”
This year, the Internet Archive is honoring Carl as a tireless advocate for free access to government information. Some highlights of his work include:
In the early days of the internet, Carl was a pioneer in pushing for public materials to be available online. Over three decades, he has digitized and uploaded thousands of documents from Congressional hearings, government films, and worked with the executive branch to shape public policy on information sharing.
He is to thank for EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system) Online, the free Securities and Exchange Commission database of corporate information and putting the database of U.S. patents on the internet.
Carl is relentless in his ongoing quest to have detailed codes for buildings, product safety, and infrastructure available to the public on the internet.
He founded Public.Resource.Org, a nonprofit based in California in 2007. Several contractors and pro-bono attorneys work with him to unleash public information from behind paywalls—sometimes landing him in court to defend his actions, all done in the name of the public good.
Carl is known as a dedicated, passionate, principled individual whose creative strategies—and, at times, dose of humor and flair—have fueled his success in opening up access to public knowledge.
Carl has been a supporter of the Internet Archive since its inception. Much of his work appears in the Internet Archive collection including his book, “Exploring the Internet,” a movie, Open Access Ninja, about his philosophy with Public Resource.org and a video, “Show Me the Manual,” about making building and electrical codes available.
Kanta Kapoor was the first in her family to go to a university. Growing up in New Delhi, she was determined to become an independent woman, and she knew education was the key to success.
“I understand the value of knowledge—to survive in this world, to make a living and make informed decisions,” said Kapoor, who excelled in school and worked at public and university libraries in India for several years before moving to Canada in 2012.
Kapoor developed an expertise in emerging technologies and became an advocate for open sharing of information. Now, she is manager of support services at the Milton Public Library (MPL) in Ontario. In that role, she helped MPL become an early adopter of the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program, which offers digital access to the physical books that a library owns through the library practice known as controlled digital lending (CDL).
For her efforts to broaden access and embrace innovative practices, Kapoor has been named a recipient of the 2021 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 Michelle Wu, Phillips Academy, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and the Grateful Dead.
In her career, Kapoor has focused on leveraging technology to improve services to the community. She has a master’s degree in library science and gained a specialty in open-source software and data management through additional graduate studies at the University of Toronto.
Kapoor said she was drawn to MPL in 2019 because the leadership team was forward thinking and there was an opportunity to expand community-led projects.
“We were challenged to think outside of the box and become champions throughout Canadian public libraries to stay ahead of the curve,” Kapoor said.
In her newly created position, she helped improve services for patrons and library staff alike with new technology, mobile apps and digitization of materials. When she was introduced to the Open Libraries program, Kapoor said she was impressed by the ability to provide millions of digitized books to users across the world. MPL decided this was the direction it wanted to go and became one of the first public libraries in Canada to embrace CDL and embed a link to Open Libraries in its catalogue.
MPL’s Mark Williams, chief librarian and chief executive officer, credits Kapoor’s strong leadership skills in building the partnership with the Internet Archive, which helped the MPL community during the earliest days of COVID-19 closures.
“It meant we were able to provide our patrons with access to tens of thousands of digitized materials at a time when they were more welcome than ever, during the pandemic lockdowns, while also being able to donate over 40,000 items for the benefit of a truly global audience,” he said. “We are incredibly fortunate that Kanta is part of the MPL team and her compassion, graciousness, humility and ultimately exemplary leadership have been put to good use.”
MPL expanded its partnership by donating physical items to the Archive, obtained a state-of-the-art digitization scanner, and became involved with Library Futures, a coalition of libraries and other stakeholders championing equitable access to knowledge.
Kapoor has helped promote materials available through CDL on the library’s web page, newsletters, and social media. So far, the response by users has been positive and Kapoor is reaching across her professional networks to educate her colleagues about the potential benefits.
“I encourage my fellow librarians to participate in this wonderful project to help their communities out,” Kapoor said. “In my career, I’ve seen many changes—and it’s still evolving. We need to continue to adapt and embrace new technology. I would like to see more libraries joining hands together to serve the community.”
As a child, Lisa Radha Weaver says she spent most Sunday afternoons at the Kitchener Public Library in Ontario. She has fond memories of the friendly library staff helping her load up as many books as she could carry home.
Then, as a college student at Trent and Queen’s Universities, Weaver again was struck by how kind and generous the people were behind the reference desk at the library. Finally, she asked: How do you get this job?
Weaver learned about the pathway to become a professional librarian. So, after finishing her undergraduate degree in education, she earned her master of library and information science at Western University in London, Ontario.
“I knew that I wanted to serve the public in the same way that I had always been served at all the libraries that I had the privilege of growing up with in the first half of my life,” said Weaver, now director of collections and program development at Hamilton Public Library (HPL) in Ontario.
But that public service role was tested in the spring of 2020 when HPL closed due to COVID-19, as she and her fellow library staff were left wondering how they were going to get books to members who were now locked out of their physical collection. Weaver had been instrumental in helping HPL become an early adopter of the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program, which offers digital access to the physical books that a library owns. Because of the collections team’s hard work, HPL patrons had access to tens of thousands of books from the safety of their homes, and could continue to read and learn while the physical library remained closed.
In recognition of her contributions in her 20-plus year career, and her foresight in leading HPL into new digital lending practices, Weaver has been named the recipient of the 2021 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 Michelle Wu, Phillips Academy, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and the Grateful Dead.
Weaver has long been committed to broadening access to information. Not everyone is as lucky as she was to have an adult bring them to the library, she says. Others don’t live nearby or work hours that limit their ability to physically visit a branch. To serve the changing needs of users, she has embraced digitizing collections and innovative outreach.
Weaver led efforts at HPL to become an early adopter of Controlled Digital Lending, as well as identify special collections to donate to the Internet Archives for digitization.
“CDL means removing barriers to access to collections in a way that is sustainable, accessible and equitable. With one library card, users have access to THE library, not just your local branch, system, region, province, state or even country,” Weaver said. “CDL means great breadth and depth in collections access. No one library can have all the books. CDL helps all libraries work together to best support each member to find what they are looking for, when and where they are looking for it.”
The timing of HPL’s embrace of CDL in the fall of 2019 was fortuitous. When the physical buildings had to close due to the pandemic in March 2020 for three months, the library was positioned to provide users with digital access to its collection through the Internet Archive.
“Our hearts were a little bit less heavy, knowing that at least that part of our collection continued to be accessible to people,” Weaver said. “We had positive feedback.”
HPL also beefed up its own virtual library collection and created a range of online programming. Weaver says it developed an online reference system so users could call, email or chat to get connected to the resources or collections, which was especially helpful to teachers and students. Staff also phoned older members of the library to just check in and some were thankful to learn about new ways to access the library online.
Weaver says her team at the library is fearless and collaborative in how they approach their work.
She credits support from her administration and green light from the library’s legal team with the success of the CDL at Hamilton. Management promotes the notion of a “freedom to fail card” to encourage risk-taking, which says she seized upon to embark on the practice. Also, the library got a legal option that it shared widely backing up the notion that it was well within the library’s right to participate. “Those two things really allowed us to step forward confidently with the Internet Archive in this project,” Weaver said.
Since 2019, Weaver has joined the call for wider acceptance of CDL. She has participated in several panel presentations with librarians to explain the details of CDL. She has also lobbied with others in Washington, D.C., making the case to lawmakers on Capitol Hill for policy that supports the practice. Weaver is known for her professionalism and thoughtfulness in promoting the benefit of CDL.
“The ‘c’ in CDL is controlled. One copy, one use,” Weaver said. “We already own these books. Why did we buy these books, if not, for the broader library community to access? None of us are closing our libraries because we are running out of books, so doesn’t it make sense to share? Most people buy into that idea.”
Before joining HPL in 2018, Weaver was with the Toronto District School Board as manager of collections and extension services for 13 years. In that role, she coordinated operations with the largest library system in Canada and worked with diverse communities to expand digital access to learning materials for students. Weaver was honored by the Ontario School Library Association with the 2006 Mover and Shaker Award and the 2016 Award for Technical Service.
The motivation in all her work is simple: “I just really believe the library should be there for everyone, where they are and when they need it.”
Announced today at the Library Leaders Forum, librarians Kanta Kapoor (Manager, Support Services, Milton Public Library) and Lisa Radha Weaver (Director, Collections and Program Development, Hamilton Public Library) will each receive this year’s Internet Archive Hero Award for helping their communities stay connected to digital books during the pandemic. They will be presented their awards at next week’s Library Leaders Forum session—register now.
This year, we were looking for libraries and librarians who rose to the challenge—this was the year that libraries and librarians have been needed like never before. We wanted to acknowledge the hard work of people who went above and beyond to meet the needs of their communities.
Kanta and Lisa both exemplify the spirit of an Internet Archive Hero:
They helped both of their organizations become early adopters of Controlled Digital Lending in 2019. Of course no one knew it at the time, but that early move helped their patrons stay connected to resources throughout library closures of 2020 and 2021 by already having tens of thousands of digitized books available through each library’s participation in the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program.
They were resources to their professional networks, acting as a point of reference for other librarians interested in learning more about Controlled Digital Lending.
They thought broadly about access to collections, considering not only, “What helps my local community?” but also, “What helps the global community?”
In addition to their shared achievements, they also brought their individual strengths to their work:
Kanta’s persistent, steady, and polite pushes—whether about donations logistics, joining Open Libraries, or offering suggestions to expand the program—are what it takes to make things happen. Kanta’s gracious and humble nature belie her steely resolve and approach to program advancement: Kanta just kept at it, politely, until she got the results that she thought was right for her library and her community.
Lisa has joined discussions about Controlled Digital Lending since 2019, participating in several panel presentations for librarians and even participating in discussions with US lawmakers and policy experts alongside ALA Annual in Washington, D.C. Lisa’s professionalism and thoughtfulness helped librarians new to the practice of Controlled Digital Lending understand how their library could benefit.
Join with us in celebrating Kanta and Lisa at next week’s Library Leaders Forum. Registration is free for the virtual event.
Library Leaders Forum October 20 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET – Register now