Internet Archive seeking donations after fire

Blaze in scanning center causes $600,000 worth of equipment damage


A fire early yesterday morning did $600,000 damage to digitization equipment at the Internet Archive's scanning center in San Francisco ... and the organization is seeking donations to help it replace what was lost.

The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 1996 to build an Internet library and is perhaps most famous for the Wayback Machine.

From an Internet Archive blog post about the fire:

The good news is that no one was hurt and no data was lost.   ...

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.

This episode has reminded us that digitizing and making copies are good strategies for both access and preservation.  We have copies of the data in the Internet Archive in multiple locations, so even if our main building had been involved in the fire we still would not have lost the amazing content we have all worked so hard to collect.

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.

Those interested in helping can donate here.

As a journalist, I have used the Wayback Machine a number of times over the years, most memorably in assembling this collection: "What online news looked like on 9/11".

The fire story has gotten attention over at Reddit, which should spur donations.  Redditors are also discussing whether the fundraising plea is a sign that the Archive failed to maintain proper insurance. 

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