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GitHub shares 'greatest hits' open source repositories with historic libraries

26 Nov 2020

Barely 12 months after launching an initiative to preserve open source software for future generations, GitHub is now sharing these collections with major libraries around the world.

The GitHub Archive Program include the GitHub Arctic Code Vault, which stores 186 reels of piqlFilm and 21 terabytes of repository data, deem under the frozen Arctic ground.

Now, GitHub is donating a collection of 17,000 ‘greatest hits’ repositories in England, Egypt, California, and in GitHub headquarters.

The repositories will be stored at the Bodleian Library at Oxford University in England, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (AKA the Library of Alexandria) in Egypt, Stanford Libraries in California, and GitHub’s San Francisco HQ.

GitHub says that the Bodleian Library is one of Europe’s oldest libraries. Librarian Richard Ovenden says preservation of knowledge is of enormous importance to libraries and society.

“In this digital age, we must constantly seek new ways of preserving critical information, such as code. Librarians and archivists, the custodians of the past, are also the advance-guards of the future. Our community has developed open approaches to software development, data practices, and scholarly communication for years, consequently, it feels like the Bodleian Libraries is a perfect partner with GitHub and the other partner libraries around the world to ensure the preservation of open source software.”

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is located in Africa, and is a partner participating in the Internet Archive. Library director Mostafa El Feki says the library is committed to preserving heritage.

“The Bibliotheca Alexandrina developed several initiatives including web archiving, book digitization, and 3D artifact digitisation. Therefore, we are delighted to work with GitHub to preserve yet another highly valuable form of human heritage: the open-source software that powers much of the technologies, on which our society today depends.”

Stanford Libraries at Stanford University, California, is the third recipient. It is known for its work in digital archiving and research.

Stanford Libraries vice provost and university librarian Michael Keller says the the announcement is a creative way to conserve history, innovation and code.

“We are pleased to be a partner on the GitHub Archive Program, the reliance on multiple providers of the same service corresponds to our LOCKSS program, driven by the principle that Lots Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe.”

But how do you present open-source archives in aesthetically-pleasing way? GitHub wanted to make the archive ‘beautiful’, so it created a design that blended an homage to the spirit of open source software and history.