A Love Letter to the People Who Build the Internet Archive

By Alexis Rossi

canvas-1-done When you visit a public library, you get to meet the librarians and others who build and care for those collections. You know there are people who empty the garbage cans, who put back the borrowed books, who maintain the computers, and who determine what ends up on the shelf.

A digital library, on the other hand, is “just” a web site.  You don’t really see the people who build it – we are often anonymous. But the Internet Archive wasn’t built by computers and algorithms.

From its inception, the Internet Archive has been built by thousands of people who understand that we have an canvas-2-doneopportunity to use the Internet to give everyone access to knowledge. Every person on the planet should have the opportunity to learn and to make a contribution.

This goal – Universal Access to All Knowledge – inspires the people who have built the Internet Archive over the past 20 years.  

People clean and repair the buildings that we occupy. People do payroll, choose our health plans, answer the phones, plan our events, reply to user emails, clean up spam, and pay our bills. People design and build the computers that hold the collections. People construct the network that carries data to every corner of the world. People write software that processes, backs up, and delivers files. People design and test and build interfaces. People digitize analog media and type in metadata. People curate collections, establish collaborations, and manage projects.

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There’s no way I can mention all of these people by name. Even if I listed every employee from the past 23 years, I would still be missing the volunteers, the people from other organizations who worked on joint projects with us, the pro bono lawyers, the delightfully compulsive collectors, the funding organizations, the idea generators, our sounding boards for crazy ideas, the individuals who have donated money or materials, and the hundreds of thousands of people who have uploaded media into the archive.

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Libraries are built by people, for people.  Thank you so much to all of the people who have contributed to building the Internet Archive, whether they were employees or our huge group friends and family.  We would not be here without you, and we hope you will continue to help bring universal access to all knowledge in the future.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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