Institutions

The institutional record and web archiving

Lorcan 2 min read

As an institution’s web presence becomes more central to its identity and business life, it will be interesting to see how long it is before we have more routine approaches to selectively capturing and archiving institutional web resources.
One of the interesting things about this topic, as with many we now face, is that effective approaches probably depend on pulling together different institutional perspectives (archives and/or library, administration, …). This presentation by Lizzie Richmond (University Archivist, Records Manager, and Freedom of Information Co-ordinator) and Alison Wildish (head of web services) at the University of Bath provides an interesting case study: the University of Bath Prospectus. This is an important University document, which gives a strong sense of the changing character of the University over its history. The University would always have kept the print manifestation; what now to do with the web manifestation? One of the interesting changes they note over this time is the ‘rise of the logo’, and tracing changes in how the institution presents itself over time is also interesting.

Of course, web archiving has been much discussed in recent years and has broader library implications. Public libraries have long had a local history role, collecting local newsletters or reports, for example, as well as other materials. As much of that moves to the web, how does that role continue? And universities are exploring selective capture and management of websites to support various scholarly inquiries.
In this context, I was recently struck by this report of remarks from the ever suggestive James Currall. I thought these were good examples to cite.

In The Tangled Web is but a Fleeting Dream … but then again…, James Currall covered the essentials of web archiving in a clear and engaging way, drawing comparisons between the survival of WWI soldiers’ diaries, and the blogs of present-day servicemen in Iraq. Another example given was the trials and tribulations of the website for the Lockerbie Trial Briefing Unit: outsourced, host ceased trading, domain name lapsed, original website content dependent on outdated Coldfusion and Access environment. Thankfully a remote-harvested, static HTML image of the site does survive. [da blog (ulcc digital archives blog) » Blog Archive » JISC-PoWR @ IWMW2008]

Both of the presentations referenced above were given at JISC-PoWR events. PoWR stands for Preservation of Web Resources, and it has been focusing some attention on this question again recently.
University of Bath presentation via Brian Kelly, who is one of the PoWR principals. The James Currall quote was from da blog, a home for University of London Computer Centre Digital Archives staff which also carried interesting discussion in this area. ULCC is also a PoWR partner.

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