The Internet Archive - “One Millionaire’s Quest to Build the Biggest Library on Earth”

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The creation and maintenance of the Internet Archive and its associated collections are among the most ambitious projects that have been undertaken involving the preservation of information in the Internet age. They are also prime examples of core Organizing System concepts put into practice.

The Internet Archive, founded and spearheaded by pioneer Brewster Kahle, not only preserves full copies of the entirety of the Internet at particular points of time in its popular Wayback Machine, it has developed massive repositories of books, films, and sound recordings while successfully negotiating the delicate balance of providing digital access to copyrighted resources while keeping rights holders happy.

One of The Internet Archive’s more innovative initiatives, the Open Library, has introduced a new playing field in the relationship between readers and the resources a library has to offer. With the Open Library, users can access over 200,000 copyrighted e-books, which Archive employees and affiliates have scanned and digitized. Only one user, however, can access a particular title at a time, with a check-out period of up to two weeks. In this case, The Archive has found a seemingly viable method of providing open access to a massive library without devaluing the copyrights inherent in its works.

As detailed in chapter two of The Discipline of Organizing, the four main activities shared by all Organizing Systems are the selection of resources, organizing those resources, designing resource-based interactions and services, and maintaining the resources over time. The initiatives of the Internet Archive touch on all four aspects. First, it strives to preserve resources that are difficult to digitize or are otherwise being neglected by the movement to digital information. Second, it strives to organize these resources so as to be searchable and housed in a sustainable infrastructure that can expand over time. Third, it constructs an innovative infrastructure with which end users can interact with the resources in novel ways. Finally, it stresses an open-access, community-driven approach to the collection and organization of its data that will allow the library to grow and evolve over time.