Archive.org, or the Internet Archive, has functioned as a digital library of all media types on the Internet since 1996. Available material has been free to the public, with some exceptions, since its start and it has served as a library for Open Educational Resources way before the term “OER” ever existed. The archive also existed before Creative Commons but began to gain in popularity as the Creative Commons licenses were first released in 2002. Because of the interest in using OERs and the stipulations of a Creative Commons license, the Archive has organized its content by containing Creative Commons licensed material all in one place.
Until the last year or so, all Creative Commons licensed materials that are moving images, audio or text (e-books) in Archive.org were found in the “Open Source” collection. Now that the term “Open Source” has become the term for designated software that is free for use and modification, Archive.org has changed the name of these databases to “Community Video,” “Community Audio” and “Community Books” to reflect the practice of sharing information among OERs.
All three sections can be found, circled below, among the tabs at the top of the home page.
If you scroll down after clicking on the Moving Images tab and find Community Video, you’ll see it listed among many different categories of video topics, all known as Sub-Collections. Among others, these include Arts & Music, Computers & Technology, Spirituality & Religion, full-length movies, and historical newsreels. The Community Video category alone contains 175, 202 items! All of these videos have Creative Commons licenses and are free of charge. You can browse by collection, title, subject/keyword, language, date uploaded and by video creator.
Community Video, upon first glance, is overwhelming, but narrowing the terms of a search will yield useful videos. For example, if you are a professor of social services and you scrolled down to the sixth video you’ll see, “Sadobabies- Runaways in San Francisco,” a documentary from 1988 produced by writer/social worker May Peteren on a certain community of teenage runaways and their circumstances.
To the left of the video page, you’ll see the area where you can play or download it as a MPEG4 (the format you’ll most be able to use), Ogg Video or MPEG2. If you click on the Archive icon at the bottom right of the embedded video you will also be provided with a video link and an embed code to insert into your online course or blog. Again, this is just one example of many videos available in the Community collection. One caveat: there is a fair number of “noise” videos, as well, of little educational use. However, the numerous search options help you find videos more useful for higher education instruction.
The Community Audio collection has the same search capabilities as the video collection and has just as many Sub-Collections. Sub-Collections here include podcasts, live music archive, audio books and poetry, the Berkley Grocks collection of interviews with leading scientists and technologists, radio programs and non-English audio. In Community Audio alone there are 929,335 files.
Searching in Community Audio reveals the breadth and depth of recordings available to you. In a random search, I found legally obtained MP3s of NY Fire Department radio dispatches from the early morning and afternoon of 9/11. Each are over 46 minutes long. I found a Librivox audio book recording of Treasure Island from Robert Louis Stevenson. Once, searching with a history faculty member, we found MP3s of songs and spirituals such as “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” and “Old Man River” sung by Paul Robson and taken from the original 78 rpm recordings. Any Archive.org community recording can be streamed, downloaded in a variety of file formats, given as a hyperlink or embedded into an LMS or blog.
A search under Community Books yields yet more resources using the same search capabilities. The Sub-Collections include American Libraries Project, Canadian Libraries, Project Gutenberg, Biodiversity Heritage Library and scans from the The Universal Library Project (or the Million Books Project). You may recall in higher education media news that Archive.org has taken it upon themselves to scan and digitize every book in human history to make them available on Archive.org. Obviously that project is still ongoing.
Community Books can be searched using many different languages including Africaans, Catalan, Kannada, Latin, Swahili and those more commonly used. Click “Browse Community English Texts” and then “Microsoft Excel 2003 Tips and Tricks” shows you the type of formats you can download. You can click to read it online, download it as a PDF, an epub, a file for a Kindle, a Daisy reader app, a full text format (looks like a txt file), and a djvu file, a scanned image of extremely high resolution for viewing in a web browser.
Here is a video from a YouTube member on how to download an Archive.org e-book for Kindle via the iPad:
Hopefully, this post has piqued your interest in Archive.org and their Community collection!