As part of the federal government's slowdown, the Library of Congress has been pulled offline. Users hoping to browse the Library's digital collections or search its online catalogue were greeted with the following message this week:
Due to the temporary shutdown of the federal government, the Library of Congress is closed to the public and researchers beginning October 1, 2013 until further notice.
All public events are cancelled and websites are inaccessible.
Fortunately, a private organization has already passively filled the gap. The Internet Archive, a nonprofit set up to provide permanent access to online resources, has been cataloging and storing data posted by the Library of Congress (and pretty much every other website) for years.
The shutdown of the Library of Congress and other websites may not be saving the government any money. Instead, the move may simply be designed to bring attention to the shutdown and push for additional revenue. After all, many departments are open, even the intensely unpopular National Security Agency.
Fortunately, users don't have to worry whether the move to pull this and other websites was a publicity stunt instead of a cost-saving measure. Instead, they can happily read, say, the Library's featured online collection of George Washington's papers. Simply use the Internet Archive to access the Library of Congress's entire website, last catalogued on Aug. 23.
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