The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library that centralises literature, historical texts, film, audio and research materials from over 1500 curated collections around the world, free to read, download, print and enjoy. It offers free universal access to books, movies & music, as well as 404 billion archived web pages. It unifies and archives internet knowledge from unexpected pockets of the globe, and for the last couple of months I have been uploading over 300 of State Library’s out of copyright books to the Archive, making SLQ the first Australian library in the collection.
When I started I wasn’t sure of our audience – who would we attract with our content? Browsing the site, the other collections are so diverse I found myself wandering into the sub collections of the New York Public Library; watching ‘The Happy City’ a short film about a leper colony in Burma; and back to our own collection, perusing home designs in modern brick styles from 1945. A global site attracts global visitors.
Then I thought of a friend in Denmark who has a WWII Australian slouch hat from the 42nd Battalion, passed down to him; and a French friend whose grandparents met in Sydney and lived in Brisbane in the 1930s. I linked them both to the site to connect them to these parts of their history, boasting they could access the information online, in PDF, ePub, or Daisy formats, read it on their Kindle or add it to their RSS feeds if they liked.
Being part of a community like the Internet Archive means we are part of a bigger, global group where our content reaches 3 million users a day. Our most downloaded items so far include a 1910 Handbook to Cairns and the hinterland and the tourist guide, ‘Beautiful Queensland, 1929 edition’ which I’d like to think is due to my French friend imagining his grandparents young and in love, but could just as well be a writer from North America, researching a novel, or a young nurse in Mackay, wondering how Cairns has changed. That is the beauty of sharing our collection on the Internet Archive. It is probably all three.
Jacinta Sutton, Discovery Services