Profile: The Internet Archive's National Emergency Library

Submitted by Heather Saunders on

What comes to mind when you picture a library? When Research and Scholarly Communications Librarian Beth Owens asked this question during Literacy Week last month at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the drawings by schoolchildren referenced bricks and mortar libraries overwhelmingly—and by extension, print rather than digital. 

Schoolchildren draw in response to question posed by librarian.


White classical building photographed at an angle with vehicles in front.

The focus of this post is the Internet Archive, which is not a typical library. Its presence is largely digital, although it has an impressive headquarters in San Francisco that provides tours (pictured here; photo: Heather Saunders).

The Ingalls Library and Museum Archives are delighted to be part of the National Emergency Library, announced March 24 by the Internet Archive. Typically, visitors to the Internet Archive can access scans of publications that are out of copyright and for publications still under copyright, one digital copy at a time per hard copy in the Internet Archive’s collection. With the National Emergency Library, until at least June 30 and until the US national emergency is over, waitlists are suspended. For details about this news story making headlines in the New York Times, the New Yorker, NPR and more, see


The CMA’s content on the Internet Archive generates up to 20,000 hits a month. Learn more about the CMA’s collection—from the Guelph treasure to Egyptian art—via these digitized publications. Also, learn about the museum’s history by accessing press releases and other documents from the museum archives. Director of Museum Archives Leslie Cade notes, “Because the museum has a history of featuring exhibitions of local art, many artists and their descendants can find information about artworks they may have in their personal collections through digitized records in the Internet Archive.”


The Internet Archive is not restricted to art-related content, nor to books. Since April is Celebrate Diversity month, we draw your attention to these offerings that celebrate diversity:


Feeling nostalgic about life before COVID-19? Jump down the rabbit hole that is the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. The Internet Archive began archiving the Internet in 1996, capturing history like the US winning the inaugural World Cup of Hockey that year, as well as various iterations of the CMA website.


Continuing the theme of entertainment, the Internet Archive can be a source of makeshift coloring book pages. Check out p. 125 of this publication uploaded by the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Ingalls Library. As a printout, it’s perfect for meditative coloring! (Note that this version has been converted to black and white).

Intricately patterned glass design.

"L'ornamento policromo nelle arti e nelle industrie artistiche ... antiche medievali e moderne per uso delle scuole e degli artisti." Internet Archive. February 17, 2017. Page 125


None of this would be possible without the vision of librarian and Internet Archive founder, Brewster Kahle, whose inspiring TED talk can be accessed here.


April 23 is the World Book and Copyright Day. What will you check out on the Internet Archive?