From the About IA page:
But without cultural artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures...Internet libraries can change the content of the Internet from ephemera to enduring artifacts of our political and cultural lives...Without paper libraries, it would be hard to exercise our "right to remember" our political history or hold government accountable. With much of the public’s business now moving from paper to digital media, Internet libraries are certain to become essential in maintaining that right.Some (just a few) of the projects that the Internet Archive hosts include:
- The Million Books Project
- The Children's Library
- Prelinger Archive (over 1,200 "ephemera" films)
- etree.org Live Music Archive
- Wayback Machine (Web archive)
An easy search box makes it possible to do basic searches across the archive. For instance a search on "librarian" brings up several pieces of software for cataloging your own collections, and a black and white short film of the "Wouldn't you like to work as a..." type. "Physics" brings up a lot of educational and simulation software, plus a classic 1950's animation of the atom, and a large number of texts from articles to books. There is a lot of great stuff in here for livening up a class, especially for "then and now" historical comparisons.
The Wayback Machine is an archive of the World Wide Web itself. You can check a particular URL for previous versions (very handy when your saved link goes dead). Since content owners can request to be excluded, and some things change too fast to be included, they don't have everything on the "open" web, but they have a lot. And, of course, they don't have things that are behind password barriers, or that are dynamically generated (such as search results).
Be sure to plan for lots of time to explore before you go to the Internet Archive. There's always something new (and old) just waiting for you.