Monthly Archives: January 2015

#tbt – Internet Archive

This article originally appeared in The Message:

never trust corporationGoogle wrote its mission statement in 1999, a year after launch, setting the course for the company’s next decade:

“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

For years, Google’s mission included the preservation of the past.

In 2001, Google made their first acquisition, the Deja archives. The largest collection of Usenet archives, Google relaunched it as Google Groups, supplemented with archived messages going back to 1981.

In 2004, Google Books signaled the company’s intention to scan every known book, partnering with libraries and developing its own book scanner capable of digitizing 1,000 pages per hour.

In 2006, Google News Archive launched, with historical news articles dating back 200 years. In 2008, they expanded it to include their own digitization efforts, scanning newspapers that were never online.

In the last five years, starting around 2010, the shifting priorities of Google’s management left these archival projects in limbo, or abandoned entirely.

For years, Google’s mission included the preservation of the past.

In 2001, Google made their first acquisition, the Deja archives. The largest collection of Usenet archives, Google relaunched it as Google Groups, supplemented with archived messages going back to 1981.

In 2004, Google Books signaled the company’s intention to scan every known book, partnering with libraries and developing its own book scanner capable of digitizing 1,000 pages per hour.

In 2006, Google News Archive launched, with historical news articles dating back 200 years. In 2008, they expanded it to include their own digitization efforts, scanning newspapers that were never online.

In the last five years, starting around 2010, the shifting priorities of Google’s management left these archival projects in limbo, or abandoned entirely.

After a series of redesigns, Google Groups is effectively dead for research purposes. The archives, while still online, have no means of searching by date.

Google News Archives are dead, killed off in 2011, now directing searchers to just use Google.

Google Books is still online, but curtailed their scanning efforts in recent years, likely discouraged by a decade of legal wrangling still in appeal. The official blog stopped updating in 2012 and the Twitter account’s been dormant since February 2013.

Even Google Search, their flagship product, stopped focusing on the history of the web. In 2011, Google removed the Timeline view letting users filter search results by date, while a series of major changes to their search ranking algorithm increasingly favored freshness over older pages from established sources. (To the detriment of some.)

Two months ago, Larry Page said the company’s outgrown its 14-year-old mission statement. Its ambitions have grown, and its priorities have shifted.

Google in 2015 is focused on the present and future. Its social and mobile efforts, experiments with robotics and artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles and fiberoptics.

As it turns out, organizing the world’s information isn’t always profitable. Projects that preserve the past for the public good aren’t really a big profit center. Old Google knew that, but didn’t seem to care.

The desire to preserve the past died along with 20% time, Google Labs, and the spirit of haphazard experimentation.

Google may have dropped the ball on the past, but fortunately, someone was there to pick it up.

internet archiveThe Internet Archive is mostly known for archiving the web, a task the San Francisco-based nonprofit has tirelessly done since 1996, two years before Google was founded.

The Wayback Machine now indexes over 435 billion webpages going back nearly 20 years, the largest archive of the web.

For most people, it ends there. But that’s barely scratching the surface.

Most don’t know that the Internet Archive also hosts:

  • Books. One of the world’s largest open collections of digitized books, over 6 million public domain books, and an open library catalog.
  • Videos. 1.9 million videos, including classic TV, 1,300 vintage home movies, and 4,000 public-domain feature films.
  • The Prelinger Archives. Over 6,000 ephemeral films, including vintage advertising, educational and industrial footage.
  • Audio. 2.3 million audio recordings, including over 74,000 radio broadcasts, 13,000 78rpm records, and 1.7 million Creative Commons-licensed audio recordings.
  • Live music. Over 137,000 concert recordings, nearly 10,000 from the Grateful Dead alone.
  • Audiobooks. Over 10,000 audiobooks from LibriVox and more.
  • TV News. 668,000 news broadcasts with full-text search.
  • Scanning services. Free and open access to scan complete print collections in 33 scanning centers, with 1,500 books scanned daily.
  • Software. The largest collection of historical software in the world.
    That last item, the software collection, may start to change public perception and awareness of the Internet Archive.

Title screen from 1988’s Neuromancer. Soundtrack by Devo. Yes, really.neuromancer
Spearheaded by archivist/filmmaker Jason Scott, the software preservation effort began on his own site in 2004 with a massive collection of shareware CD-ROMs from the BBS age.

After he joined the Internet Archive as an employee, he started shoveling all that vintage software onto their servers, along with software gathered from historic FTP sites, shareware websites, tape archives, and anything else he could find.

But actually using old software can be rough even for experienced geeks, often requiring a maze of outdated archival utilities, obscure file formats, and emulators to run.

In October 2011, Jason Scott wrote a call-to-arms aimed at making computer history accessible and ubiquitous — by porting classic systems to the browser.

“Without sounding too superlative, I think this will change computer history forever. The ability to bring software up and running into any browser window will enable instant, clear recall and reference of the computing experience to millions.”

The project started attempting a Javascript port of MESS, the incredible open-source project to emulate over 900 different computers, consoles, and hardware platforms, everything from the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64 to your old Speak & Spell and Texas Instruments graphic calculator.

Two years later, it was all real.

In October 2013, the Internet Archive tested the waters with the Historical Software Collection, 64 historic games and applications from computing history playable in the browser. No installation required — just one click, and you were trying out Spacewar! for the PDP-1, VisiCalc for the Apple II, or Pitfall for the Atari 2600.

By Christmas, they launched The Console Living Room, nearly 3,000 games from a dozen different consoles. Popular systems like the ColecoVision and Sega Genesis were represented, but also obscure and hard-to-find consoles like the Fairchild Channel F and Watara SuperVision.

A year later, they launched the Internet Arcade — hundreds of classic arcade games emulated with JSMAME, part of the JSMESS package.

Earlier this month, the Archive made headlines with the latest addition to its collection: nearly 2,300 vintage MS-DOS games, playable in the browser.

A technical breakthrough, the games are played on the popular DOSBox emulator, ported to Javascript by one brilliant, talented engineer.

The experience of clicking a link and playing a game you haven’t seen in 25 years is magical, and many other people felt the same way.

News of the MS-DOS Game Collection got widespread media coverage, including The Washington Post, The Verge, and The Guardian, with thousands of people hitting the site every minute.

Millions of people are discovering software they’ve never seen before, or revisiting games from their past. People are making Let’s Play videos of 30-year-old games, played in a Chrome tab.

When this launched, there were dozens of confused comments from people wondering what old videogames has to do with Internet history.

In my mind, this stems from mistaken perception issues of the Internet Archive as solely an institution saving webpages.

But their mission and motto is much broader:

Universal access to all knowledge.

The Internet Archive is not Google.

The Internet Archive is a chaotic, beautiful mess. It’s not well-organized, and its tools for browsing and searching the wealth of material on there are still rudimentary, but getting better.

But this software emulation project feels, to me, like the kind of thing Google would have tried in 2003. Big, bold, technically challenging, and for the greater good.

This effort is the perfect articulation of what makes the Internet Archive great — with repercusnetscapesions for the future we won’t fully appreciate for years.

But here’s a glimpse: last week, one of the JSMESS developers managed to get Netscape running on Windows 3.1 with functional networking. All of computing history is within our grasp, accessible from a single click, and this is the first step.

I played Solitaire while I waited for Trumpet Winsock to connect to the Internet. In a Chrome tab.
It’s not just about games — that’s just the hook.

It’s about preserving our digital history, which as we know now, is as easy to delete as 15 years of GeoCities.

We can’t expect for-profit corporations to care about the past, but we can support the independent, nonprofit organizations that do.abandoned places

Title screen from Abandoned Places: A Time for Heroes, an RPG from 1993 I’ve never heard of, but started playing within ten seconds of seeing the title for the first time.

Writing Center Wednesday!

Have you made an appointment for writing help at the Writing Center yet?

The Writing Center at Illinois Wesleyan University welcomes all IWU students who would like help with their writing. They are open afternoons and evenings during the school year. They’re conveniently located on the first floor of The Ames Library.

quillTutors are students at Wesleyan, and come from a variety of majors. In many cases they’ve taken the same courses in which their clients are enrolled, and have tackled similar writing assignments. They’ve taken the time to complete a non-credit, semester-long course in tutoring.

Their philosophy is simple: help student writers help themselves by acting as sympathetic readers, by asking questions, by helping students evaluate their ideas, argument, content, and style, by teaching writers invention, argumentation, drafting, and copyediting strategies they can use on their own. They help students with all the stages of the writing process, from those first rough ideas through prewriting, collecting supporting material, drafting, and final editing and proofreading. They believe that good writing takes work and benefits from several revisions and re-inventions.

Need additional help as a ESL student? Check out the ESL webpage!


All appointments are now made through an online appointment software. You must have a email account to use our services. Now you can make and change your appointments yourself, with just a click.

Bring hard copies of both your paper and the prompt!

Papers 5 pages or less:  30 minute tutorial
Papers 5-10 pages:  60 minute tutorial
Papers 10-15 pages: 90 minute tutorial
Papers over 15 pages: 2 hour tutorial
All papers are read during the tutorial
If you’re working on a long senior sem paper, establish a relationship with a tutor early in the process.

Priority is given to appointments, but walk-ins are welcome.

Tech Tuesday – Join Our Team!

Are you interested in being part of the Help@Ames team? We’re hiring!

The position of Help@Ames Student Assistant is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to develop important communication, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills in a customer service intensive environment. This position is also an opportunity for a student to acquire, demonstrate and develop a myriad of leadership skills. A successful applicant will need to demonstrate skill and polish in dealing with all types of IWU clients including students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, retirees and parents. Each assistant must be willing and able to learn new skills and have a desire to provide excellent customer service assistance. They must also possess a strong interest in technology and library research. The assistant must be willing to develop an extensive knowledge of Ames Library resources and IT services and be able to use this information to direct, assist and refer clients appropriately. The Help@Ames Student Assistant will participate in a thorough, progressive and ongoing training regimen to assist in developing the skills necessary for the position.

If you are interested in applying for this job in the library please fill out our application.

Monday, Monday, Monday

Did you know you can visit the Merwin & Wakeley Galleries in the Ames Art Building to tour the 28th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition?

IMG_20140926_123202The exhibit will have works from all areas of the studio art program: painting, drawing, printmaking, graphic design, photography, ceramics, sculpture and glass. Awards that will be presented include:

  • The Mayo Alumni Purchase Award, sponsored by Michael Mayo ’02
  • The Sipich Alumni Purchase Award, sponsored by Amber Sipich ’12
  • The National Hall Residence Honorary (NRHH) Purchase Award
  • President’s Award, chosen by IWU President Richard F. Wilson
  • Director’s Award, chosen by School of Art Director Kevin Strandberg
  • The Memorial Center Purchase Prize

The student artwork will be featured throughIMG_20140926_122615 Feb. 5. Gallery hours are 12-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7-9 p.m. Tuesday evening and 1-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information about January’s exhibitions, contact Carmen Lozar, gallery director, at 309-556-3391.

If you can’t make it to the juried exhibits, you can always take a slow walk through Ames (especially the 2nd floor) and check out some of the student art on display. Each year the library purchases a piece of student art, to be displayed permanently in the library. The most current piece is behind the Help@Ames desk on the entry level.

While you’re in Ames checking out our art collection, take a look at what else is going on this week.

Thursday, 7pm, Beckman Auditorium – “Kolya” (199IMG_20140926_1233306, Czech Republic), presented by Associate Professor of Political Science Kathleen Montgomery.

Instruction Lab, Room 129

  • Wednesday, 2pm – Hispanic Studies 280

Beckman Auditorium

  • Monday, 6pm – Prof. Folse’s Gateway, film screening
  • Tuesday, 1:10pm – International Politics of East Asia
  • Wednesday, 7pm – Classics Club Movie Night
  • Thursday, 7pm – International Film Series

Meeting Room 214

  • Tuesday, 10am – product webinar
  • Tuesday, 1pm – Assessment Committee
  • Tuesday, 4:30pm – Star Literacy
  • Wednesday, 12pm – Library Advisory Committee
  • Wednesday, 2pm – CUPP
  • Thursday, 1pm – CUPP
  • Thursday, 4:30pm – Star Literacy

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth

Check out this new title, featured in our Fiction Friday spot!

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth, by Chris Scotton

secret wisdom earthReview from “The Amazon Debut Spotlight of the Month, January 2015: This earnest debut is part coming of age story, part tale of redemption and part Greek myth played out in the holler. After the horrific death of his younger brother in an accident on the lawn, 14 year old Kevin Gillooly and his distraught mother seek healing in the rural Kentucky home of his grandfather. There, Kevin – who is suffering from survivor guilt at the very least – meets up with a local boy, Buzzy Fink; the two embark on the kind of Huck Finnish boyhood adventures – fishing, hunting, hanging out in the tree house – meant to be wholesome and soul-cleansing. But this rural Kentucky town is rife with bigotry and rage, and soon Kevin and Buzzy are drawn into local politics that involve a mountaintop clearing project and the death of a local gay man who had opposed it. There are unabashed good guys, like Kevin (who has a bit of a pyromaniacal tendency, which could have been more thoroughly developed) and his “Pops,” a gruff old man who charms with remarks like “I’ll take another bullet before I eat any more of this hospital slop.” There are some very very bad guys, like the townsperson who murders his neighbor because of his own not unexpected issues. And then there are the guys – like Buzzy and Kevin – who find their characters forged and burnished by one particular hike this particular summer, the summer “when we left the coverings of boy behind,” as Kevin puts it. Readers might recognize something in the tone and style and plot; take one virtuous man, one redneck town and two scrappy, interesting kids. Add in the narration by a boy now all grown up. And you’re just begging for comparisons to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. And yet, Scotton’s very earnestness, the obvious love he has for this particular bit of land, and the perfect ear for its youngsters’ dialogue (“She smiled at me and I almost lost breakfast”) make this novel his own. At once familiar and modern, it is always poetic and compelling. –Sara Nelson”

World Digital Library

The World Digital Library (WDL) is a project of the U.S. Library of Congress, carried out with the support of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO), and in cooperation with libraries, archives, museums, educational institutions, and international organizations from around the world.

The WDL makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from all countries and cultures.WDL Illinois Map

The principal objectives of the WDL are to:

  • Promote international and intercultural understanding;
  • Expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet;
  • Provide resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences;
  • Build capacity in partner institutions to narrow the digital divide within and between countries.

The WDL makes it possible to discover, study, and enjoy cultural treasures and significant historical documents on one site, in a variety of ways. Content on the WDL includes books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, journals, prints and photographs, sound recordings, and films.

WDL items can be browsed by place, time, topic, type of item, language, and contributing institution. The search feature can be used to search all of the metadata and descriptions and the full text of printed books on the site.

Each item on the WDL is accompanied by an item-level description that explains its significance and historical context. Additional information about selected items is provided by curator videos. Other features include advanced image-viewing, timelines, interactive maps, and in-depth thematic sections on selected topics (in preparation).

All navigation tools, bibliographic information (also known as metadata), and content descriptions are provided in seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Metadata and descriptions can be listened to on a text-to-voice conversion option that is available for every item in all seven interface languages.

Content on the WDL is selected by partner institutions in accordance with guidelines set by the WDL Content Selection Committee. Content is chosen for its cultural and historical importance, with due regard to recognition of the achievements of all countries and cultures over a wide range of time periods.

Books, manuscripts, maps, and other primary materials on the site are not translated but presented in their original languages. More than 100 languages are represented on the WDL, including many lesser known and endangered languages.


Partners are mainly libraries, archives, museums, or other institutions with collections of cultural content that they contribute to the WDL. Partners also may include institutions, foundations, and private companies that contribute to the project in other ways, for example by sharing technology, convening or co-sponsoring meetings, or contributing financially.

See a current list of all partners.

Organization, Governance, and Financial Support

The WDL is an international collaboration, led by the Library of Congress, with the support of UNESCO.

The WDL Charter, adoptedWDL Chicago in 2010, designates the Library of Congress as the Project Manager, and provides for an annual partner meeting and an Executive Council elected by the partners. Under the terms of the WDL Charter, the Executive Council provides leadership and direction to the WDL. The Executive Council is chaired by Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt, and includes members from Brazil, China, Germany, Qatar, the United States, and UNESCO. The WDL Director at the Library of Congress is Dr. John Van Oudenaren.

To carry out its responsibilities as Project Manager, and in particular to maintain the WDL website, the Library of Congress depends upon contributions from foundations, companies, and private individuals.

Digitization Centers

While many of the partners or prospective partners that wish to contribute content to the WDL have well-established digitization programs with dedicated staff and equipment, others, particularly in the developing world, do not have access to these capabilities. Over the years, the Library of Congress has provided partners in Brazil, Russia, Egypt, Iraq, and Uganda with equipment, software, training, and financial support to establish digital conversion centers to produce high-quality digital images. Much of the content on the WDL was digitized at these centers. The WDL currently supports and receives content from three digitization centers: at the Iraqi National Library and Archives in Baghdad, at the National Library and Archives of Egypt in Cairo, and at the National Library of Uganda in Kampala.

The WDL supports UNESCO’s mission of capacity building in developing countries, and seeks to work with partners in these countries and external funders to establish additional digital conversion centers throughout the world. These centers will produce content not only for the WDL, but for other national and international projects as well.

Technology Tues – Sun Server

On Tuesday, December 23, ITS moved the services offered on from a very old server to a new one. With this transition, the services will operate more efficiently, the operating system will be more secure, and ITS will be able to take better advantage of backup, virtualization, and other systems we’ve put in place for our other servers in recent years.

After the transition, people using SFTP or SSH to save files or access may be warned of SSH fingerprint errors. This is expected. ITS recommends that you replace the old fingerprint with the new one to avoid seeing that warning every time you connect in the future.

Our goal is to minimize the number of negatively impacted users, but with a transition of this magnitude, there may be some unforeseen consequences.

If you notice anything wrong after the transition, file a support ticket through the new Help@Ames ticketing system.


“I have a dream”


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., during his campus visit for the Religious Emphasis Banquet, 2/14/1961

There are numerous events commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Consider attending the Teach-In in the Hansen Center. This year’s theme is Voting Rights and Social Justice. All are welcome. Each session will feature table discussion and dialogue with the whole group. This event is sponsored by the Action Research Center (ARC). The 1 p.m. panel commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It features a keynote address by Vernon Burton, professor of humanities at Clemson University and professor emeritus of history at the University of Illinois. Professor Burton will speak on “The Voting Rights Act of 1965 in Historical Context.” The 2 pm. panel features a lecture on “Defending Voting Rights after Shelby County” by Ed Yohnka, director of communications and public policy at the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union. In the landmark case Shelby County v. Holder (2013), the Supreme Court held that Congress needed better evidence of racial discrimination to require seven Southern states (along with Arizona and Alaska) to submit redistricting plans to the federal Justice Department for preclearance. Mr. Yohnka will discuss the case and its impact on the current debate over voting rights law. The 3 p.m. panel will feature a debate between the College Republicans and the College Democrats on the issue of voter identification laws. The question for debate is “Should Illinois Adopt a Voter ID Law?” The debate is sponsored by Pi Sigma Alpha (PSA), the political science honorary society. The debate will be moderated by Chair and Professor of Political Science Greg Shaw.

Westbrook Auditorium, 4pm – This year marks the 25th annual Gospel Festival, founded by the United Community Gospel Singers of Bloomington-Normal and co-sponsored by Illinois Wesleyan University. Admission is free.

While many libraries have been named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., The King Library and Archives in Atlanta is “the largest repository of primary source materials on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the American Civil Rights Movement in the world. Significant records which document the social, cultural, economic and political impact of the civil rights movement are housed at the King Library and Archives.” Learn more about their mission and holdings by getting in contact with an Ames Librarian.

Beckman Auditorium, Tuesday, 4pm – Part of the Perspectives on Civil Rights and Race Lecture Series sponsored by the Political Science Department, this lecture will be presented by Vernon Burton, professor of history, sociology and computer science, Clemson University. These lectures are made possible through generous grants provided by the Betty Ritchie-Birrer ’47 and Ivan Birrer Endowment Fund, the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Beckman Auditorium, Thursday, 7pm – “Man of Iron” (1981, Poland), presented by Associate Professor of Political Science Kathleen Montgomery.

Instruction Lab, Room 129

  • Monday, 1pm – Psychology 321
  • Tuesday, 7pm – Environmental Studies Senior Seminar
  • Wednesday, 10:30am – OU Training
  • Wednesday, 2pm – Nursing 485
  • Thursday, 10:50am – Economics 370
  • Thursday, 1:10pm – History 316
  • Thursday, 3:30 – Rockin Resumes – Create a resume that employers will notice. This workshop outlines how to write a great resume and explains what makes a resume stand out from the employer’s perspective.
  • Friday, 10am – Prof. Chaulagain’s Gateway

Beckman Auditorium

  • Monday, 10am – United Way Leadership Program
  • Tuesday, 4pm – “From Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address to the March on Washington
  • Tuesday, 7pm – International Politics
  • Wednesday, 6pm – Gateway: Controversies in Women’s Health
  • Thursday, 7pm – International Film Series

Meeting Room, 214

  • Tuesday, 1pm – Assessment Committee
  • Tuesday, 4:30pm – Star Literacy
  • Wednesday, 11:30am – Theatre Recruitment
  • Wednesday, 2pm – CUPP
  • Thursday, 1pm – CUPP
  • Thursday, 4:30pm – Star Literacy
  • Friday, 10am – Campus Climate Assessment Committee

#tbt – Remembering “Old Main”

hedding hall fire

Every once in a while, rather than remember the happiest of IWU times, we should pay tribute to those more sobering moments. On the evening of Saturday, January 9th, 1943, Hedding Hall caught fire and was destroyed.

Hedding Hall – also known as “Old Main” – was built in 1870; its destruction spurred post-World War II campus development. While this building never housed the official campus library, several departmental and literary society libraries were housed there, suffering a complete loss.

Check out this photo and other historial IWU photos in our digital collection accessible at

The Book of Yokai – What’s New Wednesday

The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklorebook of yokai, by Michael Dylan Foster

Check out one of the newly published titles, available through the CARLI e-book program. Available to use as an electronic resource, all you have to do is follow the prompts to check out this book on the creatures of Japanese folklore, written by the same author who brought us Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai, published in 2008.


“Monsters, ghosts, fantastic beings, and supernatural phenomena of all sorts haunt the folklore and popular culture of Japan. Broadly labeled yokai, these creatures come in infinite shapes and sizes, from tengu mountain goblins and kappawater spirits to shape-shifting foxes and long-tongued ceiling-lickers. Currently popular in anime, manga, film, and computer games, many yokai originated in local legends, folktales, and regional ghost stories.

Drawing on years of research in Japan, Michael Dylan Foster unpacks the history and cultural context of yokai, tracing their roots, interpreting their meanings, and introducing people who have hunted them through the ages. In this delightful and accessible narrative, readers will explore the roles played by these mysterious beings within Japanese culture and will also learn of their abundance and variety through detailed entries, some with original illustrations, on more than fifty individual creatures. The Book of Yokai provides a lively excursion into Japanese folklore and its ever-expanding influence on global popular culture. It also invites readers to examine how people create, transmit, and collect folklore, and how they make sense of the mysteries in the world around them. By exploring yokai as a concept, we can better understand broader processes of tradition, innovation, storytelling, and individual and communal creativity.”