Detroit, MI. The collection of Detroit-based Marygrove College Library, comprising more than 70,000 books and journals, starts a new life online with the support of Internet Archive.
With the college closing in December 2019 , concerns arose about the future of the library's collection, which offers a uniquely African American perspective, reflecting the historical and cultural influences of its local community in Detroit. The importance of amplifying these voices led to the decision by the Board of Trustees to donate the full collection to Internet Archive , a non-profit library.
" We didn't want the majority of the volumes to end up in a landfill. By donating the materials to Internet Archive, we were able to preserve the entire collection that we had built over the decades and make it available to everyone," said Dr. Elizabeth Burns, Marygrove College President . " There was a sense that all was not lost. The legacy of the collection will be available for ongoing education. That really helped ease the pain of the transition."
"When I heard that the library was going to be digitized, I felt like it was going to be a stroke of genius, " said Valerie Deering, Marygrove College alumna Class of 1972. "That there was not going to be a book burning, that these books weren't going to end up at the Salvation Army where nobody really knew or understood or would appreciate what they've been to generations of students."
The collection is now available for free through Internet Archive's website and will also be preserved in its physical archives. Internet Archive hopes that making the collection available online will expand access for marginalized groups such as those with disabilities that affect reading.
"A library is much more than the books on the shelves—it is the center of a community," said Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive's founder and digital librarian. "It reflects a history of a hundred years of interests and passions and collections that have been built by librarians, faculty and students. Having that collection all online brings that community online, but also allows that artifact to be used by people all over the world. That is the idea of this next generation of Marygrove College Library."
Still, the security of the collection is not guaranteed. Internet Archive is facing a legal challenge which, if successful, would mean that libraries are no longer able to own and lend digital books, or digitize physical books for archival purposes. Access to the Marygrove collection would be restricted and its preservation threatened.
The release of the collection will be announced on October 20 at the ongoing Library Leaders Forum , a three-week virtual summit for the library community. The event marks the beginning of the #EmpoweringLibraries campaign , which aims to protect the key role of libraries in democratic society.
" I hope that those who view our collection will not only find the information they seek, but will also witness and appreciate the College mission to promote social justice through activism," said Mary Kickham-Samy, library director.
About the Internet Archive
Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit library that offers free access to valuable cultural artifacts. Founded in 1996, it hosts millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.
About Marygrove College
Marygrove College was a tertiary educational institution in Detroit founded in 1905. It announced its closure on December 17, 2019, but its legacy is preserved by nearly 44,000 alumni.