What’s Up at the Wayback Machine

With a hat tip to my colleague Ben Keen, who spotted the story below on the Torstar website.

“Internet Archive Canada, a small non-profit company, fired 35 of its 47 employees on Wednesday due to a massive drop in donations. Most will leave Aug. 12 unless a white knight appears soon”.

It’s difficult to find out exactly what the issue is – the website offers no explanation.

The story ends:

“The loss will be felt by more than those who will be out of work.”

Here they all are – they’ve made a major contribution in digitizing Canada’s book heritage.

“Most employees believe they are making the world better by liberating billions of words that would otherwise be trapped in a library.

“If we had 10 more years, we could archive every single book in Canada,” Gabe Juszel said. “But not any more.”



  1. This would be a marvelous opportunity for Access Copyright (AC) to step up to the plate with some money for a worthy project that would really help to provide “access” to the Canada’s literary heritage.

    It might be an opportunity for AC to make up for its apparently never-to-be-seen public domain registry announced with much fanfare a few years ago and which appears to be vapour ware.

    However, AC’s priorities clearly lie elsewhere. AC has budgeted $2.2 million for Copyright Board applications in 2011 alone. That’s interesting because its median payout to actual authors for all of last year was reportedly only $267.72 – no doubt a small fraction of the average hourly rate of the lawyers who are working both for it and against it on its current Copyright Board cases.

    This could be a good “fit” for a very useful project that would truly help to provide access to important literature. But let’s not hold our collective breath.

  2. The issue appears to be that in Canada it is funded by universities, and that funding is drying up. According to the article:

    The company relies chiefly on funding from Canadian universities, which just isn’t as available now. Its monthly operating budget is about $100,000, which will be reduced to $30,000.

    That means there is a $70,000 short fall. Any thoughts on how to make up the difference and keep the project on track?

  3. Hear, hear, for Howard’s idea. It is a fine one indeed, let’s see Access Copyright step up and do something productive.

  4. David Collier-Brown

    We might ask Project Gutenberg Canada if they can make a suggestion:
    their U.S. fundraising is described at http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Gutenberg:Project_Gutenberg_Literary_Archive_Foundation
    and I’ll drop them a line


  5. Even something like a paypal donation button would be great.

  6. Although not necessarily directly comparable, a colleague forwarded me the following article from the Atlantic titled “What Big Media Can Learn From the New York Public Library.” It talks about the various digital successes achieved by the NYPL (I recently downloaded their free Biblion app mentioned in the foregoing article, an interesting app to say the least).

    I echo the comments about Access Copyright. If not them, perhaps a stronger, coordinating role for Library and Archives Canada.