In 2007, inventor and digital librarian Brewster Kahle gave a TED Talk about, “A Free Digital Library,” which would give “Universal access to all knowledge.” Today, you can use that library, which provides access to an archive of the World Wide Web, over 9 million eBooks and digital documents, 2.4 million videos, 2.8 million audio recordings, 120 thousand pieces of software, 1.1 million digitized images, and 162 thousand live concert recordings. Read below to learn about some of the different features and select collections.
The “Wayback Machine” has captured 469 billion pages on the Internet using web crawlers to give researchers the ability to access pages that are no longer live. Thus, you can potentially see a webpage that now reads “HTTP 404 Not Found” if you use the “Wayback Machine.” You can also use it to look at the history of a web page’s design, for example, see what the Murray State University Libraries’ page looked like in 2007–notice there is no Search. catalog, and no Twitter feed.
The Smithsonian Libraries collection is one of the largest library systems in the world and contains texts of all sorts, inculduding rare and old books that you can read online. These documents are very useful for understanding historical developments in human history. For example, here is a book published in 1671 that gives an account of early America and its inhabitants:
The LibriVox Free Audiobook Collection contains recordings of public domain texts (works that may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner) in multiple languages that you can download and listen to freely. This way you can study and exercise at the same time.
The Internet Arcade gives you the ability to play vintage-era video games using an online emulator. If you were writing a paper on the history of video game development, you could experience what it was like to use these games, like this 1982 classic, “Q*Bert”:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Gallery Images collection gives you access to over 140 thousand images from their collection. If you need images for a presentation that you are giving, or you are an Art History major, this collection is an invaluable resource. Keep in mind that these collections include images of three-dimensional objects, like this early 19th century “Russian Bassoon”:
Are you doing a report on how media covers tragic events? The Internet Archive contains 3,000 hours of coverage of the events from 9/11 in the Understanding 9/11: A Television News Archive. This collection is from the video collections held in the Internet Archive.
These are just few of the many collections contained in the Internet Archive. There are 198 thousand collections to choose from.