Posted by: bluesyemre | June 17, 2022

Libraries are our future, but they need our help!

a digital image I made for this article, Library of the Future, 2022

I made my first website in 2000, as a student at George Mason University. I bought the domain Studioamelia.com and I have had that domain as my art space, I called it Studioamelia.com: Virtual Studio Space. Over the years I have had a lot of different jobs, opportunities, and life changes. But the ability to make my art in my digital studio space (online and from anywhere) is something I’ve treasured.

Every few years, I go to the Wayback Machine, a way to stroll through the Internet Archive, a vast digital archive that holds everything that was and is online, like a library of everything that happened in the digital communication temple of knowledge we call the web/net/phone. The Wayback Machine has a URL search bar and you can view that website at various collection points and literally travel back in time to see some of your favorite websites as they once were. Now maybe a broken flash link or a full-page gif (remember when we had those enter here gifs?) and other questionable conventions of surfing the old-timey web (cringe).

The ways I have used the Archive personally have been so fundamental to how I understand the internet, its history, and the concept of the digital commons. This archive and its 25-year mission contain our values to democratize information for the benefit of the planet.

Of course, the Internet Archive doesn’t just exist so I can be nostalgic and embarrassed, its mission is to provide universal access to all knowledge, something those of us who were around this digital zip code in its beginning deeply cared about, some of us still do. Democratizing access to books, and written materials is central to its mission. From a statement from The Internet Archive:

“has been working with other libraries for almost a decade to digitize and lend books via Controlled Digital Lending (CDL)…

This service has been especially crucial during the pandemic, but will be needed long afterwards. Many families cannot afford to buy all the books they and their kids want or need to access, and look to libraries to fill the gap. Researchers may locate books they need, but discover they are out of print. Others simply want access to knowledge. And all of these people may not be able to visit the physical library that houses the works they need. CDL helps to solve that problem, creating a lifeline to trusted information. It also fosters research and learning by keeping books in circulation when their publishers are unable or unwilling to do so.”

But in a few months, the Archive will face a court case– Hachette v Internet Archive– whose plaintiffs seek to prevent the institution from helping our national libraries bring information forward into the future. Four large publishers have sued the Internet Archive, alleging that its digital lending program violates their copyrights and threatens their businesses.

I am not sure why the plaintiffs, in this case, feel they are entitled to make every instance of knowledge-sharing into a revenue stream, but there you have it. Perhaps there is some legal precedent for this. I invite you to look it up, for free, online.

For those of you who would like to make a real contribution to the Internet Archive’s ability to continue preserving and sharing the digital commons, you can now donate to the Internet Archive and their DWEB Camp Fellowship program. Thanks to Gitcoin’s Quadratic funding model your $3 could end up as a $400 donation. This program launched on June 8th, 2022, today the day I’m writing this.

The Internet Archive needs our help. If you would like to donate please keep reading as I go through how to do this with a GitHub account, if you are not interested in donating but would like to support the archive please use it, share it, write about it, and keep information and access open!

Learn more (and browse a lot of fun archives) at https://archive.org/

https://studioamelia.medium.com/libraries-are-our-future-but-they-need-our-help-75461ddc8c08


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