Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

The Non-Internet Internet Archive

The good news, at least for people interested in Britain, is that the British Library is creating an Internet archive of all UK websites to preserve the history of the British Internet.The bad news is that it won’t be available on the Internet.

Presumably, the official title will be the Ironic Internet Archive, or maybe the “Internet Archive.”

The reason? Publishers, who publish things on the Internet that anyone can see, want to make sure that later on people can’t see what they publish unless, and this is the even weirder part, they go into a “legal deposit library” to view the material.

That’s like the publishers who want library patrons to have to go into a physical library to download an ebook. They mess with us just because they can.

So the British Library is creating a digital archive of the Internet that can only be accessed by going into a physical building. It sounds crazy any way you look at it, and they’re probably not happy with the arrangement.

Publishers are pretty happy, though. They’ve managed to restrict access to Internet sites that were available to the public with the hope that the might be able to “turn old web pages into pay-to-view archives without competition from libraries.”

Let’s think about that for a moment. What publishers would want to do that? The only ones I can think of are newspaper and magazine publishers, but there can’t be that many capable of ever making any money from their previous web postings.

Sure, maybe the Times or the Guardian might, but run of the mill newspapers like the Hull Daily Mail or the Wigan Observer are out of luck. So a handful of large publishers are responsible for making the most idiotic “Internet archive” in existence. Thanks, publishers.

Of course there are other groups that don’t want information from their past too freely available in the present. The Conservative Party in the UK had its archives scrubbed from Google and other crawlers recently.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron allegedly said that the UK Internet archive would “democratize information.” That’s an inconvenient statement now best removed from the Internet if at all possible.

The annoying thing about such moves is that even the American Internet Archive, that is, the real Internet Archive, gets rid of the stuff groups erasing history want to get rid of. They apparently got rid of the Conservative Party website archives as well.

Seriously, didn’t we fight a war against Great Britain so we wouldn’t have to obey its politicians any more? I seem to recall reading something about it in the history books.

Doesn’t the U.S. invest in the largest military-industrial complex the world has ever known so that we can archive whatever darn website we want?

I guess not.

For a nice comparison, look at Norway, which is about to digitize all the books in the National Library of Norway and make them all available to anyone with a Norwegian ip address, even those still in copyright.

They’re doing it because all published content has to be deposited in the National Library, and since it’s the National Library, all content is for everyone.

If only the U.S. had a national library, maybe we could do that.

Anyway, while Norway is digitizing its print books to make them available online in the future, the U.K. can’t even manage to make it’s present Internet available online in the future, and what could have been a great treasure available to all is something of a joke.



  1. It’s a shame, judging by the comments, that more people seem to have a lot more to say about intra-departmental library drama than a huge issue like this one :( Reminds me of most of my LIS classes.

    • Frumious Bandersnatch says:

      And at the end of the day, intra-departmental library drama will have had a much greater impact on my productivity than Norwegian digitization projects…it is what it is.

  2. Norway as an example? The government is paying the Norwegian version of the CCC $0.05/page per year in order to have the material online. That is $10/book if we assume an average book is 200 pages. And you don’t get to download or print off the book for that – only read it on the screen.

    So not only do we need a national library, but we need one that is willing to pay a big, fat subsidy to publishers. Just how much do you think a national license for the US would cost?

  3. Could someone explain “it is what it is.” What is “it?’ Does that also suggest “it isn’t what it isn’t?” “At the end of the day” also confuses me. Which “day?” Are these bastardizations of the English language the result of google’s Norwegian-to-English translation app?

  4. librarylady says:
  5. thank you, library-lady. that was a “value-added” comment.

    here are some more (sorry about the cross-post) :

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