By Tracy Seneca, Web Archiving Coordinator

The California Digital Library is pleased to announce public access to its Web Archives.  CDL’s Web Archives are built and published using its Web Archiving Service (WAS), which enables librarians to capture, curate, and preserve websites for the benefit of researchers and the general public.  New archives are continually being built and published, and will appear along with the current archives available at http://webarchives.cdlib.org/.

This first set of archives includes materials from the California state government agencies, and local government agencies from Orange County, San Diego, Los Angeles and more.  Also included are archives of Middle Eastern political organizations, American left-wing organizations, and web content related to events such as the 2007 Southern California Wildfires and the 2003 California Recall Election.

As government agencies and public policy organizations increasingly turn to the web as a primary means of publication, libraries are challenged to provide lasting access to the budgets, studies and reports that they have long collected for the benefit of the research community.  The WAS service also allows libraries to expand their collecting scope to more ephemeral materials such as press releases, local commission meeting minutes, public forum sites, and blogs.  All of these provide a glimpse of history in the making for future researchers.  The value of this service is described in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, Scholars Race to Preserve Guantánamo Records, which focuses on an archive currently being built by New York University using CDL’s Web Archiving Service.

The Web Archiving Service also enables the University of California (UC) libraries to work collaboratively on a monumental task: archiving the web sites of the State of California.   The State of California web domain (.ca.gov) represents the third largest subdomain of the U.S. government web presence.  The UC campuses have worked individually to capture and archive local information, and collectively to archive state publications.  Together, these archives represent a major achievement and a series of rich resources for California researchers.  These archives can also provide lasting access to the individual state publications that are catalogued and made available via UC’s Melvyl catalog.

The archives represent the culmination of the Web-at-Risk grant, funded by Library of Congress’ National Digital Information Infrastructure Preservation Program, and led by the California Digital Library.  With our grant partners at the University of North Texas and New York University, and our curatorial partners at the UC campuses, NYU and Stanford University, we are embarking on new era in collection building for libraries.

If you have any questions about the archives or about the Web Archiving Service, please contact washelp@ucop.edu.