Home Internet Archive now official custodian of Aruba’s entire history

Internet Archive now official custodian of Aruba’s entire history


  • The Internet Archive hosts Aruba's National Library, Archives, and other institutions' digitized collections.
  • Aruba's digital collection includes over 101,000 items, preserving cultural heritage and history.
  • Preservation aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goals for universal access to information.

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

According to an investigation by WIRED, the Internet Archive’s Aruba Collection hosts digitized versions of Aruba’s National Library, National Archives, and other institutions including an archaeology museum and the University of Aruba. So far, the collection contains 101,376 items, around one for every island resident. This includes 40,000 documents, 60,000 images, and seven 3D objects.

The Internet Archive website states the importance of collecting artifacts to preserve culture and heritage. “Without such artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures,” it continues. With more artifacts in digital form, the Archive believes its mission is to help safeguard them and create an Internet library for researchers, historians, and scholars.

Peter Scholing, information scientist and researcher at the country’s national library, Biblioteca Nacional Aruba (BNA), spearheaded support for the statement protecting memory organisations online. “Over the last few months we’ve brainstormed about these digital rights and how to broaden the statement to make it relevant to not only libraries, but also for memory institutions and GLAMs in general,” said Scholing, using the acronym for galleries, libraries, archives & museums.

Scholing stated that the preservation aligns with goal 16 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which advocates for open access to documentary, cultural, or digital heritage. The ‘Four Digital Rights for Protecting Memory Institutions Online’ statement, therefore, “aligns almost perfectly with what we aim to achieve here in Aruba—universal access to ‘our’ information,” he added.

“What makes Aruba unique is they have cooperation from all the leading cultural heritage players in the country,” Chris Freeland, the Internet Archive’s director of library services told WIRED.

Internet Archive faces legal issues

The Archive is currently grappling with several significant legal challenges, among them a lawsuit from leading record labels such as Universal Music Group, Capitol, and Sony. The labels are seeking damages potentially exceeding $400 million.

In addition, there is an ongoing dispute with publishing companies over a digital lending library it established during the pandemic. Hence the Archive remains vulnerable and its future is precarious.

Featured image: Canva

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Suswati Basu
Tech journalist

Suswati Basu is a multilingual, award-winning editor and the founder of the intersectional literature channel, How To Be Books. She was shortlisted for the Guardian Mary Stott Prize and longlisted for the Guardian International Development Journalism Award. With 18 years of experience in the media industry, Suswati has held significant roles such as head of audience and deputy editor for NationalWorld news, digital editor for Channel 4 News and ITV News. She has also contributed to the Guardian and received training at the BBC As an audience, trends, and SEO specialist, she has participated in panel events alongside Google. Her…

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