The opening keynote was by Brewster Kahle, Digital Librarian and Founder of the Internet Archive. He began by noting that in our current era of disinformation, ready access to trustworthy information sources is critical. “Fake news,” sophisticated disinformation campaigns, and propaganda distort the common reality, polarize communities, and threaten open democratic systems. What citizens, journalists, and policymakers need is a canonical source of trusted information. For millions, that trusted source resides in the books and journals housed in libraries, curated and vetted by librarians. Yet today, as we turn inevitably to our screens for information, if a book isn’t digital, it is as if it doesn’t exist.
To address this gap, the Internet Archive is actively working with the world’s great libraries to digitize their collections and to make them available to users via controlled digital lending, a process whereby libraries can loan digital copies of the print books on their shelves. By bringing millions of missing books and academic literature online, libraries can empower journalists, researchers, and Wikipedia editors to cite the best sources directly in their work, grounding readers in the vetted, published record, and extending the investment that libraries have made in their print collections. For example, Trent University in Ontario has donated 250,000 books to the Internet Archive for digitization as part of its Bata Library transformation.
Kahle announced a new partnership between the Internet Archive and Better World Books. Generally, the Internet Archive does not acquire other organizations, but in the case of Better World Books, it was appropriate because of the very extensive holdings of Better World.
These two examples show that the Internet Archive is playing a major role in preserving information and making it widely available to users.
Don Hawkins blogs about conferences for Information Today and Against The Grain. He also maintains the Conference Calendar on the Information Today website and is the Editor of Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage, published by Information Today in 2013, and Co-Editor of Public Knowledge: Access and Benefits, published by Information Today in 2016. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and has worked in the information industry for over 45 years.