Open Algorithms

How to search the Internet Archive

Whatever you're searching for on the Internet Archive, this will be the first part of the URL:

https://archive.org/search.php?query=

What follows are chosen parameters. Heres how you would find all texts on the Internet Archive:

&and[]=mediatype:"texts"

When I'm looking for a book I typically want to read it immediately, so I add the "Always Available" filter:

&and[]=loans__status__status:"NULL"

The only language of which I'm fluent is American English, so I'm going to add the "English" language filter, like this:

&and[]=languageSorter:"English"

Here's the URL so far:

https://archive.org/search.php?query=
&and[]=mediatype:"texts"
&and[]=loans__status__status:"NULL"
&and[]=languageSorter:"English"

Nasty, huh? But that's going to be the basis for all our queries! Now we can actually get into the meat of the search. You probably don't want to browse 11 million books. You're probably looking for a specific book, books by a certain author, or books on a specific topic. Below you'll find how to do all the things.

Search by title

Sometimes it's enough to search by title:

&and[]=title:"Peter Pan and Wendy"

Search by title and author

Sometimes many books have the same title, and so you must filter by author as well. For example, there are many books with the title "English fairy tales." You probably want the one by "Flora Annie Steel". I must point out the author tags on the Internet Archive are garbage. They often include the living years of the author. In the case of "Flora Annie Steel", the tag is:

Steel, Flora Annie Webster, 1847-1929

Knowing that the last name precedes the rest of the name, I can finally construct my query:

&and[]=title:"English Fairy Tales"
&and[]=creator:"Steel, Flora Annie"

Browse by topic

Sometimes you're looking for a new book to read. Let's say you're a math enthusiast, and you want to read about the history of mathematics. You'd probably think to search for books tagged with "History of mathematics", but you'd be wrong. You actually need to search by topic "Mathematics -- History". Knowing this, we add the following to the URL:

&and[]=subject:"Mathematics -- History"