Thursday, May 14, 2009

Internet Archive - Brewster Kahle

Brewster Kahle, director and co-founder of the Internet Archive, spoke on "Universal Access to Knowledge" at the May 13th BayNet Libraries meeting in San Francisco. Brewster's presentation was an updated version of his earlier presentation, which is available on video.

BayNet is a multi-type library organization that seeks to strengthen connections among all types of San Francisco Bay Area Libraries and Information Centers, and to promote communication, professional development, cooperation, and innovative resource sharing. BayNet President Craig Cruz Jr. introduced incoming president Andrea Mitchel, who invited Brewster to speak to area librarians about the Internet Archives and issues related to open content.

"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. Google is the biggest competitor to the Internet Archives, but has a commercial business plan rather than a non-profit approach. Brewster urged the audience to petition Congress to "Let the Orphans free". Orphan works are items whose copyrights are unclaimed. Pending legislation is controversial because it favors Google and keeps these works from being open to all. Internet Archives has recently hired Peter Brantly to get activists on board with the Open Content issue, including digitization, the Google Book Search Settlement, and the future of books and libraries .

Check out the site. You could easily spend hours on it just exploring. Start with a look at the "Wayback Machine" to see what your website looked like 10-15 years ago. There is a K-12 Web Archiving Project, sponsored by the Internet Archives, the Library of Congress, and the California Digital Library. Enjoy!

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