Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Internet Archive Builds a Physical Archive

As a complement to its online digital library, the Internet Archive is developing "a physical archive for the long term preservation of one copy of every book, record, and movie" that it can acquire, with a goal of obtaining ten million items. Founded in 1996, the Internet Archive's digital collections encompass millions of items, including texts, moving images, audio, software, and archived web pages. But as its founder Brewster Kahle noted in a recent blog post: "Books are being thrown away, or sometimes packed away, as digitized versions become more available. This is an important time to plan carefully for there is much at stake." He observed further that: "A library that would prefer to not be named was found to be thinning their collections and throwing out books based on what had been digitized by Google. While we understand the need to manage physical holdings, we believe this should be done thoughtfully and well."

In development since January 2009, the Internet Archive's first physical storage facility will be launched this month in Richmond, California (the image above depicts modified shipping containers that are utilized as environmentally controlled storage units). Further information on this initiative can be found in Kahle's blog post.

On a related note, the North Carolina History of Health Digital Collection is available online via the Internet Archive (The Common Curator was the principal investigator and project director for this grant-funded digitization project).

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