Born-Digital Library

The Internet Archive (IA) is a not-for-profit digital library with the stated mission “universal access to all knowledge.”  It offers permanent storage and free access to collections of digitised materials, including websites, music, moving images, and over 8.4 million public domain texts, including books.

Internet Archive logo

As of today, the Internet Archive files consist of 2.1+ million moving images, 147,104 live music files, 2.6+ million audio recordings, 112,000 software files, and over 1.1 million images, all of which are in the public domain or are Creative Commons-licensed and are freely available for download.

The Archive provides unrestricted online access to that material at no cost and allows the public to both upload and download digital material.

The text collection includes digitised books from libraries around the world, as well as many special collections.

Via its sister project, the Open Library, the IA seeks to add a record for every book ever published, something like an open-source version of WorldCat.  It holds 23 million catalogue records of books, in addition to over 1,000,000 free ebook titles and full texts of about 1,600,000 public domain books, which are fully readable and downloadable.

Millions of websites and their associated data (documents,  images, source code, etc.) are saved in the IA’s massive database.  It also allows users to see archived past versions of web pages (cached pages), what the Internet Archive calls a “three-dimensional index”.  The service can be used to see what earlier versions of websites used to look like, or even to visit websites that no longer exist.

In addition to web archives, the IA maintains extensive collections of digital media that are under a license, such as Creative Commons licenses that allow redistribution or are in the public domain in the United States.  The media are organised into collections by type (audio, text, moving images, etc.), and into sub-collections by various criteria.

In addition to feature films, IA’s Moving Image collection includes classic cartoons; newsreels; Skip Elsheimer’s “A.V. Geeks” collection; anti- and pro-war propaganda; advertising; ephemeral material from the Prelinger Archives, such as educational and industrial films and amateur and home movie collections.

The audio collection includes audio books, music, news broadcasts, old-time radio shows as well as a broad mixture of other audio files.

The sub-collection of the Live Music Archive includes over 100,000 concert recordings from independent artists and musical ensembles, as well as from more established artists, all with approval for recording their concerts.

Freely distributable music is hosted via IA’s NetLabel, Lifehacker.  This collection hosts complete ‘virtual record labels’ or ‘netlabels’ – non-profit, community-built items committed to providing non-commercial, high quality, freely distributable MP3/OGG-format music – comprising a multitude of genres, often Creative Commons-licensed catalogues that are freely downloadable/streamable.  There are over 500 sub-collections available where you can search by collection, media type, keyword, etc.  An excellent way to find that ‘just right’ piece for your next project (or your music collection).

Some of the film classics available at the Internet Archive: