Books have been a reliable way to convey and preserve information for hundreds of years. Other formats have evolved, but what happens when the book is no longer in print, the recording wears out, or the website is no longer maintained? It’s tragic to think of all of that information lost forever. Thankfully, organizations like the Internet Archive have made it their mission to preserve material so that our knowledge and culture will remain available for generations to come. And, do you know what’s really cool? The Allen County Public Library is a part of this effort! ACPL has been one of the Internet Archive’s partners since 2008.
Through collaborations with 190+ partners, including The Genealogy Center, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian, the Internet Archive strives to preserve a record for generations to come. What this means for you is that there’s a growing collection of excellent resources freely available online. The Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software, as well as archived web pages. If you use the WayBack Machine, you can check out what the ACPL website looked like in January of 2004 — you can see that we were in the middle of an expansion project. Some of our branches were reopening after their renovation, some were closing in preparation for renovation. And if you type google.com into the search box, and go back to November 1998, you’ll see that they hadn’t developed their playful logos — yet. After all, Google had only been in business for a couple of months at that time.
As of June 2013, 62,234 items from ACPL’s Genealogy Center have been digitized by the Internet Archive. To date, items from the Genealogy Center account for 9,840,368 of the downloads from the Internet Archive. And you’ve heard of The Lincoln Collection, right? So far, 11,685 items have been digitized from this collection, accounting for 707,685 of the Internet Archive’s downloads.
What kinds of titles are we talking about? The top three most popular Genealogy Center books as of June 2013 are:
- Yorkshire Marriage Registers. West Riding (Volume 2). 12,661 downloads.
- Fairbairn’s book of crests of the families of Great Britain and Ireland (Volume 1). 12,022 downloads.
- Norfolk parish registers. Marriages (Volume 4). 11,456 downloads.
As fantastic a resource as this is for genealogists, there’s also plenty to intrigue those of us who are researching other topics. An amazing book recently added to the collection from the Field Museum of Natural History is Traite de Fauconnerie, a special book on falconry. Use the zoom tool and you can see the fine detail of this work published in 1844. How awesome is this???
Aside of its amazing collection, one of the things I love most about Internet Archive is that you can choose your format. I’ve linked directly to the books mentioned in this post so that you can read them online, but you can choose to download a variety of versions including PDF, EPUB, Kindle, Daisy etc. This makes it a fantastic resource not only for those of us in search of difficult to obtain materials, but also makes it a simply phenomenal resource for people with special needs.