November 8, 2013

The Internet Archive suffers fire damage


The Internet Archive’s San Francisco scanning center announced on their website today that a fire in their building has caused significant damage.

On The Internet Archive homepage, the Archive identifies itself and its mission:

The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled, and the general public.

Their Wayback Machine has archived 364 billion web pages, and is an invaluable resource for journalists and scholars looking for archived content that is no longer online or has been altered.

Fortunately nobody was hurt in the fire, but there was some physical damage:

Some physical materials were in the scanning center because they were being digitized, but most were in a separate locked room or in our physical archive and were not lost.   Of those materials we did unfortunately lose, about half had already been digitized.   We are working with our library partners now to assess.

Machinery and equipment sustained more extensive damage:

An early estimate shows we may have lost about $600,000 worth of high end digitization equipment, and we will need to repair or rebuild the scanning building.   It is in difficult times like these that we turn to our community.

The Archive team has identified two ways to help:

Donating money here to help them rebuild, or bringing on affected employees to continue their scanning and digitizing work at any of the alternate locations around the world.


Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.