October 13, 1998
Contact: Guy Lamolinara, Library of Congress (202) 707-9217
Cynthia Lohr, Alexa Internet (415) 561-6786
Quimby Mills, Antenna Group Public Relations
ALEXA Internet Donates Archive of the World Wide Web To
Library of Congress
First Large-Scale Digital Donation Ensures Preservation of
Digital Cultural Artifacts
Alexa Internet, provider of the free Web navigation
service Alexa has donated a copy of the public World Wide
Web to the Library of Congress, in the first large-scale
contribution of digital materials received by the
institution. With this donation, Alexa helps the Library of
Congress take a major step toward preservation of the Web.
The donation, comprising two terabytes of Web content,
is in the form of an interactive digital sculpture
containing 44 digital tapes alongside four computer
monitors. Titled World Wide Web 1997: 2 Terabytes in 63
Inches, the sculpture, by renowned digital artist Alan Rath,
intermittently flashes pages from the 500,000 sites gathered
and stored by Alexa Internet. The digital sculpture
includes text, images and audio files representing a full
"snapshot" of the Web from early 1997.
The donation complements the efforts of the Library of
Congress's National Digital Library Program, which makes
freely available on the Internet rare American historical
items from the Library's collections. More than 1 million
interesting and important manuscripts, films, sound
recordings and photographs are currently on-line at
www.loc.gov/. Alexa's donation represents the Library's
largest and most significant collection of information "born
digital," or information created and published through
digital media such as the Web.
"Alexa Internet's donation of the Web enhances the
Library's holdings and ensures that one of the most
significant collections of human thought and expression born
of a new medium is preserved in the national collections,"
said Winston Tabb, Associate Librarian for Library Services
at the Library of Congress. "Alan Rath's sculpture serves
as a tangible icon representing the Web and will help our
visitors envision the scope of what has become one of the
largest sources of information ever built by humankind."
"The fabric of the Web is a temporary one at best
unless we commit to its long-term care and feeding," said
Brewster Kahle, president of Alexa Internet. "With our
donation of the Web Archive to the Library of Congress we're
trying to build an infrastructure that transforms the Web
into a resource to benefit future generations of scholars
Why should the Library of Congress preserve the Web?
The Library's collections comprise nearly all fields of
knowledge in all formats. For Congress, it is the library
of first resort; for many researchers, it is the library of
last resort. It is thus important for the institution
continually to extend its collections to accommodate new
formats of creativity, preserving this electronic
information for future generations just as the Library
preserves its analog collections.
Alexa Interent estimates that the Web is growing at the
rate of 1.5 million pages daily. Statistics show that if the
present rate of growth continues, the Web will contain more
than 1 billion pages by the year 2000. However, just as
some of the most significant and cherished books over time
are now out of print, Alexa's data reveal that 1 percent of
all Web pages are gone after a week. These pages range from
personal home pages to public discussion group archives to
early versions of commercial Web sites. Since 1996, Alexa
Internet has been committed to gathering, storing and
preserving the Web so that sites will be available long
after they have been removed from the Web or altered.
Using robot technology, Alexa Internet "crawls" the Web
every six to eight weeks, and then analyzes and stores data
available on the public Web. Alexa uses the data collected
for its free Alexa service, a Web surf engine designed to
find Web pages that are no longer available. Alexa then
donates a copy of each Web "crawl" to the Internet Archive,
a nonprofit organization endowed to preserve copies of the
Web for research purposes and for posterity.
The Library of Congress's mission is to make its
resources available and useful to Congress and the American
people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of
knowledge and creativity for future generations. Founded in
1800 to serve the reference needs of Congress, the Library
of Congress is the world's largest library, containing more
than 113 million items in nearly every language and format.
The National Digital Library Program of the Library of
Congress aims to make freely available over the Internet
millions of items by the year 2000, in collaboration with
other institutions. Named one of the "Top 100" Web sites by
PC Magazine, called "remarkable" by The New York Times and
"one nation's treasure" by Wired, the Library's Web site
(www.loc.gov) handles more than 60 million transactions per
Founded in April 1996 by Brewster Kahle and Bruce
Gilliat, Alexa Internet is a leading provider of dynamic,
relevant data about the Web to enable users to make
intelligent business and consumer decisions.
The free Alexa Web navigation service is available for
download at www.alexa.com.
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