Exploring the Internet Archive

Submitted by shawreb on Mon, 04/13/2020 - 11:29
Rebecca Shaw, Music Archivist

The mission of the Internet Archive is to provide “universal access to all knowledge.” While such an ambitious goal has yet to be achieved, the archive remains a rich source of material. In their digital archive, you will find more than 20 million books and texts, and millions of audio recordings, videos, and images. Most of their textual content was published before 1924 and thus in the public domain, but you can also explore more recent publications in their Open Library. They also preserve countless web pages through the Wayback Machine, and support curated collections of web content on Archive-It. While the physical books, scores, and other materials live in libraries, archives, and private collections around the world, their digital surrogates are at your fingertips.

The oldest item available in the Music Library’s Internet Archive collection: Madrigali del Venosa a cinque voci by Carlo Gesualdo (Venice: Stampa del Gardano, 1611-1619) [call number: musi F-3 124].

Internet Archive Canada’s digital headquarters are located in Robarts Library at the University of Toronto. Since 2006, University of Toronto Libraries (UTL) have contributed over 420,000 items to the archive, drawing on the resources of 25 campus libraries and archives. The Music Library's collection in the Internet Archive consists of over 4,500 items, the physical copies of which primarily reside in our Olnick Rare Book Room. Volumes include scores, pedagogical methods for various instruments, encyclopedias and dictionaries, biographies, and theory treatises.

You may also browse a large portion of our Canadian Sheet Music collection, or explore our collection of opera scores. The latter was a collaborative effort between the University of Toronto Music Library and the University of Ottawa. It contains predominantly French operas, published between 1683 and 1920, including many first edition publications. Some of the composers represented in this collection are Jacques Offenbach, Jules Massenet, Camille Saint- Saëns, Hector Berlioz, and Jean-Baptiste Lully, to name a few.

Over the coming months, I will highlight some of these rare books and special collections that you can access from the comfort of your own home. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the Internet Archive, or any of our rare books, archives, and special collections, please do not hesitate to contact me at r.shaw@utoronto.ca.