San Francisco, CA-- February 15, 2017 – The digital library, Internet Archive, is one of eight groups named semi-finalists today in 100&Change, a global competition for a single $100 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The competition seeks bold solutions to critical problems of our time.
"Today's learners are working and living their lives online. That's where they turn for information, so if a book isn't digital, it's as if it doesn't exist," said Wendy Hanamura, Director of Partnerships at the Internet Archive. "We want to provide libraries everywhere with free access to four million digital books. We can unlock the riches in library collections for a new generation."
Even in this digital age, millions of books, representing a century of knowledge, are still not accessible online to scholars, journalists, students, and the public. Stymied by costs, e-book restrictions, policy risks, and missing infrastructure, libraries have not always been able to meet the digital demand. Nor is access to libraries universal or equitable.
The Internet Archive's project will enable free, long-term, public access to knowledge. Together with its partners, the Internet Archive will curate, digitize, and make available in digital form four million books, providing a digital copy to any library in the country that owns the physical book. They will start with the books most widely held and used in libraries and classrooms. They estimate that the scale of the project will reduce digitization costs by 50 percent or more.
The Internet Archive has prototyped this model for more than six years at its Open Library platform, digitizing 540,000 modern books originating from 100 partners. Open Library lends these books to the public in a process that mirrors the way libraries have traditionally lent physical books. The Internet Archive's plan includes at-scale circulation of these eBooks, enabling libraries owning the physical works to lend digital copies to their patrons.
"The 100&Change competition is allowing us to think bigger and more boldly. At the Internet Archive, we only lend one copy at a time, so in order to serve more learners, we need thousands of libraries to join us," said Internet Archive Founder and Digital Librarian, Brewster Kahle. "That can happen if we build a collection of the four million most useful books and the technical infrastructure that allows libraries everywhere to leverage them."
"The internet has proved to be remarkably efficient at distributing some news, innuendos, rumors and stories about cats. But so far it hasn't reached its full potential in making available to us the knowledge in millions of books that sit on library shelves around the globe," said MacArthur Managing Director, Cecilia Conrad. "The Internet Archive project proposes to democratize access to great literature, to textbooks, to manuals—making them available to anyone regardless of where they live."
A summary of the Internet Archive's solution, an overview video of its project and a MacArthur video describing the proposal is available here www.macfound.org/InternetArchive.
100&Change is a unique competition for organizations worldwide to submit proposals promising real progress toward solving a critical problem of our time in any field or any location. There was robust participation: 7,069 competition registrants submitted 1,904 proposals. Of those, 801 passed an initial administrative review and were evaluated by a panel of expert judges who each provided ratings on four criteria: meaningfulness, verifiability, durability, and feasibility. MacArthur's Board of Directors made the final selection.
Each semi-finalist will next work with an expert team to address questions about their technical and organizational capacity. The expert team will provide feedback to the semi-finalists to inform proposal revision and will submit an assessment to MacArthur's board. The semi-finalists will also be asked to show authentic engagement with their target communities and other relevant stakeholders.
MacArthur's board will select up to five finalists in September. Finalists will present their proposals during a live event on December 11, 2017, before the board names a single recipient to receive $100 million over up to six years.
100&Change was designed to be fair, open, and transparent. The identity of the judges and the methodology used to assess proposals are public. Applicants will learn how their proposal was evaluated and will receive comments from a panel of expert judges. Key issues in the competition are discussed in a blog on MacArthur's website. A public, searchable database of all the proposals will be posted online later this year.
The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world.
About the Internet Archive:
The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit library, founded by Brewster Kahle in 1996 with the mission to provide "Universal Access to all Knowledge." The organization seeks to preserve the world's cultural heritage and to provide open access to knowledge in the digital era, supporting the work of historians, scholars, journalists, students, the blind and reading disabled, as well as the general public.
The Internet Archive's digital collections include more than 30 petabytes of media: 279 billion archived web pages dating from 1996 to the present; 11 million texts, plus 3 million eBooks; 2.9 million movies and videos, plus 1.2 million searchable and quotable television news programs; 3 million audio recordings, 135,000 live music archive concerts; and 500,000 software items.
Each day, 2-3 million visitors use or contribute to the archive, making it one of the world's top 300 sites. It has created new models for digital preservation by forging alliances with more than 450 libraries, universities and national archives around the world.