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Praise for the Internet Archive (Unscripted Column) | Entertainment

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It has long been a habit of mine to read before going to bed. Usually I get so absorbed in books that I stay up late. After recently finishing and enjoying Kazuo Ishiguro’s Painter of the Floating World, I immediately picked up my phone and searched for other books he had written. On Twitter, he remembered seeing someone recommending his 1995 book, The Unconsoled, and read it with interest. I searched for Lancaster Library System and found it available at the Ephrata branch. But it was past midnight, and I was still awake and in the mood to continue reading. So I went to one of his favorite resources, the Internet Archive. A search for “The Unconsoled” found it among his 38 million books and texts available on the platform. Even better, I was able to check out immediately then.

The Internet Archive operates on a controlled digital lending scheme. So if he has one previously purchased and scanned copy of a book in his archive, such as “The Unconsoled,” he can check it out like a brick one person at a time. The -and mortar library lends us a physical book. (The Lancaster Library System pays to use several different platforms, such as Libby, to access eBooks for a limited time.)

I chose the option to check it out for an hour and was reading it within seconds.

I read dozens of books through the Internet Archive. I also used the Internet Archive to stream dozens of Grateful Dead concerts. According to, the site has 14 million audio recordings of him and 240,000 live concerts. With 725 billion web pages in the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, sites are temporarily frozen even as administrators make updates and changes.

The site features millions of videos and two million TV news programs. The effort began as a way to archive his 9/11 events recorded on television news. I remember finding certain sections of the archives very helpful when writing news stories about his 20th anniversary of 9/11.

The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization started in 1996 to archive temporary content published on the Internet. Soon the project included books. According to the website, Archive has partnered with over 900 libraries and other organizations, and in 18 locations around the world he scans 4,000 books a day.

Users can create a free account and start reading books for research purposes or just for fun. According to, the website has a special mission to provide access to books. Because not everyone has access to a general or academic library with good collections.

The Internet Archive is “the Library of Alexandria for the 21st century, and digital technology and the Internet are making the Library of Alexandria better than ever. We have access to the same cultural and informational resources as the people living here.”

It’s a great resource. Almost too good to be true. Sadly, the above quote is taken from a statement in documents filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, when many physical libraries and bookstores closed and schools moved online, archives eased controlled digital lending to make books accessible to more people. I created the “National Emergency Library” to do this.

Benjamin Saracco, Librarian for Research and Digital Services at the Academic Medical and Hospital Libraries in New Jersey, is insightful at about his experiences directing frontline healthcare workers to the Internet Archive to find the manual for their lives. I wrote a blog post. How to save when the physical library is closed.

Two months after the creation of the “National Emergency Library,” four major groups of publishers, including HarperCollins Publishers and Penguin Random House, sued the Internet Archive for copyright infringement. The litigation continues even though the Internet Archive has now reverted to a controlled digital lending scheme.

“We need libraries to be more independent and strong than ever before,” Internet Archive founder Brewster Kale said in a press conference posted on the Archive’s blog last month. We live in an age of information and challenges to democracy: “That’s why we defend the right of libraries to serve their users online, wherever they are.”

The lawsuit has sparked a debate about ownership of digital media. Everyone from copyright scholars to he Max Collins has recently joined Collins compared the situation to his music streaming service, Spotify, and warned that major publishers and technology his platform had no interest in paying artists fairly. “Public influence is Orwellian,” he said.

I’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy Internet Archives (I’ve been doing sessions where I borrow “The Unconsoled” an hour at a time). And thank you for their mission to be Alexandria’s digital library. I just hope they don’t suffer the same fate.

Mike Andrelczyk is a staff writer for the LNP. Lancaster Online. “Unscripted” is a weekly entertainment column produced by his team of rotating writers.