by archivist Emily Ward
A web archive is like a time capsule. An archivist sends out a web crawler that will capture web content, and then the captured content is archived and made available in a web archive. The purpose of the web archive is to ensure the archived content’s long-term preservation. Equally important, a web archive allows for authentic playback and access to the archived content. This means archived websites should appear and function as they did on the day they were captured.
Why is it important to preserve websites? Research suggests that the average lifespan of a webpage is just 90 days. Additionally, the internet has become one of the main modes of disseminating information from the highest levels of government, to international and local businesses, all the way down to you. We use the internet to describe our lives— who we are, what we like, what we don’t like, what we think is funny, good, bad, sad, and on and on. In the past, we used letters, photo albums, scrapbooks, home videos, and other analog materials to learn more about our family or a certain time period. But today we put everything that we had once put on paper onto the web. If we don’t start collecting these materials now, a whole generation will be unknowable.
In an effort to prevent this impending Digital Dark Age, EBRPL is participating in “Community Webs: Empowering Public Libraries to Create Community History Web Archives,” an IMLS funded program led by the Internet Archive. The goal of the program is to educate public librarians in the art of web archiving and to ensure that endangered local history websites are being collected and preserved. EBRPL has been archiving local web content for the past year, and were, before this program, one of only five public libraries in the country doing this type of work!
We would like our web archives to be built by the people who live in, and contribute to the history of Baton Rouge. Therefore, we are asking the public to help create the collections that researchers will use in the future to study the history and culture of Baton Rouge. If you or someone you know has created or knows of a website, social media page, YouTube video, blog, etc. that should be captured and preserved please consider submitting the URL and accompanying information via our URL submission form, accessible through our page on Community Webs or by making an “EBRPL Website Capture Request.”
If you would like to learn more about web archiving please check out the Baton Rouge Room Infoguide. You can access the EBRPL Web Archive through the Digital Library. If you have any questions or suggestions, contact Emily Ward at email@example.com or by phone at 225-231-3752.