There are 20 million books and texts on the Internet Archive.

Internet Archive is a digital library with free books, texts, videos, audio recordings, webpages, and software.  It is my go-to place for research because you can find credible primary and secondary sources, making it ideal for learning.

When I show my students the Internet Archive, they are impressed by all the sources they see in different media types.  My students have accessed different materials about writing, literature, history, science, design theory, and theology.

If you need to find information about a topic, the Internet Archive is a fantastic place for you to start your research.

So, let’s look at how you can use the Internet Archive to search for free sources. 

Want to see the video version of this blog post? Watch it here: 

What is the Internet Archive?

Internet Archive https://www.archive.org started in 1996.  At the time, their mission was to “archive the Internet.” Since then, they have expanded and digitized even more sources, so that they are not lost or forgotten.

Today the archive has:

  • 330 billion webpages
  • 20 million books and texts
  • 4.5 million audio recordings (including 180,000 live concerts)
  • 4 million videos
  • 3 million images

Cited from: The Internet Archive at https://archive.org/about/ and retrieved on February 5, 2020.

There is the Open Library, where people can borrow books for 14 days, and books written before 1923 are free for you to download.

You’ll also find audiobooks from the Librivox Collection. Individuals narrate these books and upload them to this collection so that people can listen to them online or download them for free.

Another unique aspect of the Internet Archive is the Wayback Machine. The Wayback Machine is a way to search through all the digitized webpages on the Internet Archive.  You can see the history of a website by typing a URL into the Wayback Machine. Through the Wayback Machine, you can view what a website looked like from the beginning of its creation to the present.  

How to Search for Sources

So how do you find all of these materials? The search process is simple. (Check out the video above to see how to search for sources, how to perform an advanced search, and how you can listen to and download audiobooks). 

First, go to https://www.archive.org  and type in your basic search term. For example, if you are studying President John Kennedy’s assassination, use “President John Kennedy Assassination” as your search term.

You can view results according to relevance, views, title, date, archived, and creator.  You can also narrow down the types of media you want to see.  There are 6598 results, but if I limit the media to texts that decreases my results to 6,248.

Internet Archive Search Results for President Kennedy's Assassination

You will see the availability of your sources.  Some are always available, some you can borrow for 14 days, and others will be on a waitlist.  There are other ways to filter your results (year, language, collection, etc.) Also, you can perform an advanced search.  Since this topic has 6,598 results, I would use the advanced search option to decrease my results.

How Can the Internet Archive Help You?

While there are other great places to find sources for academic materials, not all of them are free.  Some offer limited free subscriptions, and others are available to you through university libraries.

The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library, so anyone can access classic literature, modern books, videos, news programs, audio recordings from collections all over the world.  You can find content about a vast number of topics. Try it yourself with a subject that interests you.

So, in answer to the question, “What is the Internet Archive?” It’s an ever-growing place where you can learn and grow in your wisdom. Click To Tweet

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