Internet Archive

The Internet Archive is based out of a former Christian Science Church

The Internet Archive is based out of a former Christian Science Church

Due to time and internet access to restrictions, the following three posts have been delayed.

My final destination was San Francisco, home to the Internet Archive.

Late last year, Yarra Plenty Regional Library joined their Open Library project, the first public library in Victoria to do so. We contributed two titles to the 200,000 books available for lending. It also includes 2 million texts for the print disabled.  Open Library strives to have one record for every book ever published.

I was honored to meet the founder, Digital Librarian, Brewster Kahle.  His goal is simple: universal access to all knowledge.  The archive provides access to digital historical collections and to that end they undertake the digitization of physical collections. The statistics are incredible. Since the site was first launched in 1996; 3,500,000 books and texts, 370,000 TV news broadcasts from over 30 networks have been uploaded as well as 1 million movies and videos, 100,000 live music concerts, 1 million audio recordings and 150 billion archived pages on the Wayback Machine. In addition, 4.5 billion URLS have been archived at and 3,000 hours of 9/11 news.

Along with the founder, I also met Robert Miller, Global Director of Books and Jude Coelho, Digital Scanning Coordinator with whom I have been corresponding with since YPRL joined Open Library.

The organisation consists of 150 employees (including self described geeks) in ten international locations.  It also has a strong volunteer base. I had briefly met Jeff Sharpe, the Midwest Regional Digitisation Co-coordinator when I visited the Allen County Public Library Genealogy collection where there is a very close partnership. While I was in Fort Wayne, part of the Lincoln collection was receiving special attention by Jeff’s team.

The Archive is situated inside a former Christian Science Church and Mr. Kahle has made a great effort to preserve the historical integrity of the building while adapting it to the needs of the Archive, which hosts the servers for the site.

I received a tour of the premises including a look at the digitization process which was explained to me by Jesse Bell, Digital Scanning Supervisor.

There are three stages to the process that results in 1,500 books being scanned everyday.  Jesse’s team was working on a collection from the Bureau of Land Management during my visit.    He explained to me the three-step process.

First a web page is created.  Relevant metadata is extracted, possibly from a client database, as was the case here.

The second stage is image capture.  This is a non-destructive process using their own Scribe facility.  The operator places the item on the v-0shaped scanning bed aligning it with two side-mounted  cameras. With one click, the operator photographs the two pages simultaneously.  There is also an option where the operator can click a button to indicate if the item page is an index or contents page, which assists in the search ability of the item when online.

The third stage is the republishing process where images are quality checked.  The image is then uploaded 24 to 48 hours later.  In addition there is a separate fold out station for larger items.  The team here also digitizes microfilm and 16 mm film.

I was interested to hear that there is no media person employed but over the years the Archive has relied on word of mouth to promote itself and is mission.  It has appeared on page one of the New York Times.

There are no partnerships in Australia but there is Australian content thanks to the collections of participating organisations.

Further statistics include:

  • 10 petabytes of content
  • 2.5 million daily visitors to
  • 3 million daily downloads
  • Alexa top 250
  • Page rank of 8
Flag of the world which flys outside the Internet Archive

Flag of the world which flys outside the Internet Archive


About infolass

Local and Family History Librarian, Yarra Plenty Regional Library, Melbourne, Australia
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