Disclaimer: I have no connection to Archive.org beyond than having a free account and being acquainted with one of their employees.
Most of my readers already know about Archive.org, also known as the Internet Archive, as a place to find cool old stuff online. While I spend my time with their full-text, online books, Archive.org also offers audio and video, including TV, films, and concert tapes. Patents. Podcasts. Census microfilms. Outdated software. Plus the magnificent Wayback Machine, which has been crawling the web and saving websites for 25 years.
Why is this important? A lot of individuals and groups — now that we all create and accumulate digital property without even trying, let’s call ourselves collectors — are turning to libraries, educational institutions, historical organizations, and museums, asking them to put the collector’s stuff online. It might be photos, letters, or home movies that have or have not been digitized. It might be original essays or art by the collector. It might be by-laws, minutes, spreadsheets. It might be articles and downloads from elsewhere.
Some large and well-funded organizations might accept and store your digital assets. Smaller organizations, though, rarely have enough server space to digitize collections they already own and have title to, the stuff we all want them to put online. Under the circumstances, they may be unable to commit server space to more new stuff.
While server space is definitely cheaper than bricks and mortar storage space, it is not free. Neither is the labor, software, and hardware needed to do all of the processing that makes digital files findable and usable online. Whether it is tangible objects in boxes or digital files on hard drives, collectors simply own more stuff than organizations can possibly house and care for in perpetuity.
Here’s where Archive.org comes in. You or your organization can take out an account and scan and upload. Here’s why I recommend Archive.org:
- Archive.org is a non-profit, so your stuff won’t get monetized for stockholder benefit
- No ads or paywalls
- Superb access options for those with vision limitations
- You can contribute files in almost any format
- Your stuff joins an international community of individuals and organizations who have already shared bazillions* of collections for public access and benefit
If you join and start contributing, please donate what you can to offset their server, software and labor costs. Here’s where to sign up.
*A technical term that roughly translates as More than I can count