Brewster Kahle is a digital Librarian, director and co-founder of the Internet Archive, which is now one of the largest digital archives in the world. Kahle has built technologies, companies and institutions to advance the goal of universal access to all knowledge. After graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1982, he helped found a supercomputer company, Thinking Machines, that built systems for searching large text collections. In 1989, he invented the internet’s first publishing and distributed search system, WAIS (Wide Area Information Server). WAIS Inc. created the online presence for many of the world's largest publishers, and was purchased by America Online in 1995. In 1996, he co-founded Alexa Internet, which provides search and discovery services included in more than 90 per cent of web browsers, and was purchased by Amazon in 1999. He is a board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a plaintiff in Kahle v. Gonzales (formerly Kahle v. Ashcroft), which challenges recent copyright term extensions. He was selected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005, the AlwaysOn/Technorati Open Media 100 in 2005, the Upside 100 in 1997, the Micro Times 100 in 1996 and 1997, and the Computer Week 100 in 1995.
The goal of universal access to our cultural heritage is within our grasp. With current digital technology we can build comprehensive collections, and with digital networks we can make these available to students and scholars all over the world. A current challenge is establishing the roles, rights, and responsibilities of our libraries and archives in providing public access to this information. Another current issue will be whether the services will be primarily commercial therefore making the next generation library system a proprietary rather than public one. With these roles defined, our institutions will help fulfill this epic opportunity of our digital age.