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Internet Archive headquarters was in the Presidio, a former US military base in San Francisco, from 1996 to 2009.

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As of Nov 2009, new Internet Archive headquarters at 300 Funston in SF, CA, a former Christian Science Church

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Mirror of the Internet Archive in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina

The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the stated mission: "universal access to all knowledge."[1][2] It offers permanent storage and access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and books. The Internet Archive was founded by Brewster Kahle in 1996.

With offices located in San Francisco, California, USA and data centers in San Francisco, Redwood City, and Mountain View, California, USA, the Archive's largest collection is its web archive, "snapshots of the World Wide Web." To ensure the stability and endurance of the Internet Archive, its collection is mirrored at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, making it the only library in the world with a mirror.[3]

The Archive allows the public to both upload and download digital material to its data cluster, and provides unrestricted online access to that material at no cost. The Archive also oversees one of the world's largest book digitization projects. It is a member of the American Library Association and is officially recognized by the State of California as a library.[4]

In addition to its archiving function, the Archive is an activist organization, advocating for a free and open Internet.

The Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit operating in the United States. It has a staff of 200, most of whom are book scanners in its book scanning centers. Its main offices in San Francisco house about 30 employees. The Archive has an annual budget of $10 million, derived from a variety of sources: revenue from its Web crawling services, various partnerships, grants, donations, and the Kahle-Austin Foundation.[5]


Brewster Kahle founded the Archive in 1996 at the same time that he began the for-profit web crawling company Alexa Internet. The Archive began to archive the World Wide Web from 1996, but it did not make this collection available until 2001, when it developed the Wayback Machine. In late 1999, the Archive expanded its collections beyond the Web archive, beginning with the Prelinger Archive. Now the Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software. It hosts a number of other projects: the NASA Images Archive, the contract crawling service Archive-It, and the wiki-editable library catalog and book information site Open Library. Recently, the Archive has begun working to provide specialized services relating to the information access needs of the print-disabled.

According to its website:

Most societies place importance on preserving artifacts of their culture and heritage. Without such artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures. Our culture now produces more and more artifacts in digital form. The Archive's mission is to help preserve those artifacts and create an Internet library for researchers, historians, and scholars.

Wayback Machine

Examples from the Wayback
Machine's archives:

Main article: Wayback Machine

The Internet Archive has capitalized on the popular use of the term "WABAC Machine" from a segment of the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon, and uses the name "Wayback Machine" for its service that allows archives of the World Wide Web to be searched and accessed.[6] This service allows users to see archived versions of web pages of the past, what the Internet Archive calls a "three dimensional index". Millions of websites and their associated data (images, source code, documents, etc.) are saved in a gigantic database. The service can be used to see what previous versions of websites used to look like, to grab original source code from websites that may no longer be directly available, or to visit websites that no longer even exist. Not all websites are available, however, because many website owners choose to exclude their sites.

The use of the term "Wayback Machine" in the context of the Internet Archive has become so common that "Wayback Machine" and "Internet Archive" are almost synonymous. This usage too occurs in popular culture, e.g., in the television show Law and Order: Criminal Intent ("Legacy", first run Aug. 3, 2008), an extra playing a computer tech uses the "Wayback Machine" to find an archive of a student's Facebook style website.

Open Library

The Open Library is another project of the Internet Archive. The site, still in beta, seeks to include a web page database for every book ever published, a sort of Open Source version of WorldCat. It holds 23 million catalog records of books, in addition to the full texts of about 1,600,000 public domain books, which are fully readable and downloadable.[7][8] Open Library is a free/open source software project, with its source code freely available on the Open Library site.


Users who want to archive material permanently, and immediately cite an archived version, can use the Archive-It system, a fee based subscription service.[9] Data collected with Archive-It is periodically indexed into the general Wayback Machine. As of February 2009, Archive-It had created over 724 million URLs for 746 public collections, including government bodies, universities, and cultural institutions. Some of the organizations participating in Archive-It include the Electronic Literature Organization, the State Archives of North Carolina, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Stanford University, the National Library of Australia, the Research Libraries Group (RLG), and many others.

Psychology resources at the internet archive

The archive has many books, particularly of historical interest digitised and available for free access.

Media collections

In addition to web archives, the Internet Archive maintains extensive collections of digital media that are attested by the uploader to be in the public domain in the United States or licensed under a license that allows redistribution, such as Creative Commons licenses. The media are organized into collections by media type (moving images, audio, text, etc.), and into sub-collections by various criteria. Each of the main collections includes an "Open Source" sub-collection where general contributions by the public are stored.

Moving image collection

Aside from feature films, IA's Moving Image collection includes: newsreels; classic cartoons; pro- and anti-war propaganda; Skip Elsheimer's "A.V. Geeks" collection; and ephemeral material from Prelinger Archives, such as advertising, educational and industrial films and amateur and home movie collections.

IA's Brick Films collection contains stop-motion animation filmed with Lego bricks, some of which are "remakes" of feature films. The Election 2004 collection is a non-partisan public resource for sharing video materials related to the 2004 United States Presidential Election. The Independent News collection includes sub-collections such as the Internet Archive's World At War competition from 2001, in which contestants created short films demonstrating "why access to history matters." Among their most-downloaded video files are eyewitness recordings of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The September 11th Television Archive contains archival footage from the world's major television networks of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 as they unfolded on live television.

Audio collection

Main article: Live Music Archive

The audio collection includes music, audio books, news broadcasts, old time radio shows and a wide variety of other audio files.

The Live Music Archive sub-collection includes over 50,000 concert recordings from independent artists, as well as more established artists and musical ensembles with permissive rules about recording their concerts such as the Grateful Dead, and more recently, The Smashing Pumpkins.

Text Collection

The texts collection includes digitized books from various libraries around the world as well as many special collections. The Internet Archive operates 18 scanning centers in five countries, digitizing about 1,000 books a day, financially supported by libraries and foundations.[10] As of November 2008, when there were about 1 million texts, the entire collection was over 0.5 petabytes, which includes raw camera images, cropped and skewed images, PDFs, and raw OCR data.[11]

Between about 2006 and 2008 Microsoft Corporation had a special relationship with Internet Archive texts through its Live Search Books project, scanning over 300,000 books which were contributed to the collection, as well as financial support and scanning equipment. On May 23, 2008 Microsoft announced it would be ending the Live Book Search project and no longer scanning books.[12] Microsoft will be making its scanned books available without contractual restriction and making the scanning equipment available to its digitization partners and libraries to continue digitization programs.[12]

Around October 2007 users began uploading the public domain books from Google Book Search. [13] As of January 2010 there are 900,000 million Google-digitized books in the Archive's collection, representing more than half of the total books available from The books are identical to the copies found on Google, except without the Google watermarks, and are available for unrestricted use and download, like all Internet Archive materials.[14]

See also

Wikipedia:Using the Wayback Machine - A guide to the Internet Archive's Wayback machine.

Similar projects

  • Library of Congress Digital Library project
  • National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program
  • Ourmedia - Internet Archive project that freely hosts public image, text, audio, and video submissions
  • Project Gutenberg
  • WebCite


  • Digital preservation
  • Heritrix
  • Link rot
  • Memory hole
  • Web archiving
  • Web crawler


  1. Internet Archive Frequently Asked Questions
  2. Internet Archive: Universal Access to all Knowledge
  3. The Internet Archive at the New Library of Alexandria.
  4. " Internet Archive officially a library", May 2, 2007.
  5. [1].
  6. includeonly>Green, Heather. "A Library as Big as the World: Brewster Kahle has the technology to assemble the ultimate archive of human knowledge. What's stopping him? Restrictive copyright laws", Business Week Online, February 28, 2002. Retrieved on 2007-06-25.
  7. includeonly>Gonsalves, Antone. "Internet Archive Claims Progress Against Google Library Initiative", InformationWeek, December 20, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
  8. includeonly>"The Open Library Makes Its Online Debut", Chronicle of Higher Education, The Wired Campus, July 19, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-07-30.
  9. Stefanie Olsen, "Preserving the Web one group at a time", CNet, May 1, 2006.
  10. "Books Scanning to be Publicly Funded", announcement by Brewster Khale, May 23, 2008.
  11. "Bulk Access to OCR for 1 Million Books", via Open Library Blog, by raj, November 24, 2008.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Book search winding down", Live Search Blog. Official announcement from Microsoft. Last accessed May 23, 2008.
  13. Google Books at Internet Archive.
  14. Books imported from Google have a metadata tag of scanner:google for searching purposes. The archive links back to Google for PDF copies, but also maintains a local PDF copy, which is viewable under the "All Files: HTTP" link.

External links

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