The Internet Archive, a digital library that provides free access to a collection of digitized materials, has become the official custodian of an entire nation’s history for the first time.

According to Wired’s research, the Internet Archive’s Aruba collection holds digitized versions of the National Library of Aruba, the National Archives, and other institutions such as the Archaeological Museum and the University of Aruba. To date, the collection contains 101,376 objects, approximately one for each island resident. This includes 40,000 documents, 60,000 images and seven 3D objects.

The Internet Archive website explains the importance of collecting artifacts to preserve culture and heritage. “Without these artifacts, civilizations would have no memory and no mechanisms for learning from successes and failures,” it continues. As more and more artifacts become available in digital form, the Archive believes its mission is to help preserve them and create an Internet library for researchers, historians, and scholars.

Peter Scholing, an information scientist and researcher at the Bibliothèque Nacional de Aruba (BNA), the country’s national library, spearheaded the statement supporting the group Protecting Memory Online. “Over the past several months, we have been brainstorming about these digital rights and how to broaden the scope of the statement so that it is relevant not just to libraries but to memory institutions and GLAM in general,” said Scholing, who used the gallery , abbreviation for library, archives and museum.

Skolin said this protection is in line with Goal 16 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which promotes open access to documentary, cultural or digital heritage. Therefore, the “Four Digital Rights to Protect Online Memory Institutions” statement “is almost entirely consistent with what we are trying to achieve in Aruba – universal access to ‘our’ information,” he added.

“What’s unique about Aruba is that they’ve collaborated with all the leading cultural heritage players in the country,” Chris Freeland, director of library services at the Internet Archive, told Wired.

Internet Archive faces legal troubles

The Archives is currently fighting several major legal challenges, including lawsuits from leading record labels including Universal Music Group, Capitol and Sony. The record label is seeking damages that could exceed $400 million.

Additionally, there is an ongoing dispute with publishing companies over the digital lending libraries they have set up during the pandemic. As a result, archives remain fragile and their future is precarious.

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