Thursday, May 14, 2009

Internet Archives - an Update by Brewster Kahle

Incoming BayNet Libraries President Andrea Mitchel invited Brewster Kahle, director and co-founder of the Internet Archive, to speak to area librarians about the Internet Archives and issues related to open content. BayNet is a multi-type library organization that promotes communication, professional development, cooperation, and innovative resource sharing among all types of San Francisco Bay Area Libraries and Information Centers.

Brewster spoke on "Universal Access to Knowledge" at the May 13th BayNet Libraries meeting in San Francisco. His presentation was an updated version of his earlier presentation (available on video) ending with an argument on the importance of open content and a call to action.

"Now is a good time to be a librarian" says Brewster. A lot is happening. There are struggles over who will own what (content). This is also a time to determine how to spend money better for libraries.

The Internet Archives is a non-profit organization that was created in San Francisco in 1996. It has grown in several ways. It now has 18 book scanning centers on several continents, including a center in San Francisco. The Internet Archives captures and stores:
  • BOOKS (1,000 books/day at 10 cents/page);
  • AUDIO (3,600 bands and concert recordings including rock n' roll);
  • MOVING IMAGES (about 1,000 early movies and 1950-type public service, PR, lectures);
  • MAPS;
  • SOFTWARE (new!).
  • New collections are regularly added.
Worried that these archives are vulnerable? It was comforting to learn that there are now a few "swap" backups, although Brewster would sleep better if there were 4-5 server locations that keep and maintain complete copies.

Open Content is any kind of creative work published that explicitly allows copying and modifying of its information by anyone -- such as the content on Wikipedia. According to Brewster, Google is the biggest competitor to the Internet Archives, but Google has a commercial business model rather than a non-profit, open content approach. Brewster urged librarians to petition Congress to "Let the Orphans free". Orphan works are items whose copyrights are unclaimed. Pending legislation is controversial because it favors Google. Internet Archives has recently hired Peter Brantly to get activists on board with the Open Content issue. Learn more about digitization, the Google Book Search Settlement, and the future of books and libraries!

You could easily spend hours on the Internet Archives site. Start with the "Wayback Machine" to see what your website looked like 10-15 years ago. Enjoy!

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