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April 30, 2010

The Web-At-Risk:Preserving Our Nations's Digital Cultural Heritage

The Web has revolutionized our access to information. Open government initiatives coupled with the ease of Web publishing provide an unprecedented view into the research and debates that shape public policy. We can easily see the grassroots response to major historical events throughout the world. But ready access to these publications cannot be taken for granted; websites change or disappear as governments and organizations evolve. The Web-at-Risk is a grant funded by the National Digital Information and Infrastructure Preservation Program. The goal: develop tools to enable librarians and archivists to capture, curate, preserve, and provide access to web-based government and political information. The majority of this work took place from 2005-2009 and culminated in the Web Archiving Service, now available to researchers and libraries both within and beyond the University of California. The Web-at-Risk grant also produced significant research and assessment which guided the development of the service and remains a valuable resource.

The Web-at-Risk in 2010

The research that served as the foundation for the Web Archiving Service is now being followed up in collaboration with Ithaka S + R (Strategy and Research). Now that the Web archiving tools are in production and collection-building is underway, Ithaka and CDL are working with librarians and researchers to explore:

  • How community needs for Web archiving may have changed since the beginning of the Web-at-Risk work
  • How Web archiving needs of the broader research community can be addressed
  • How the Web Archiving Service in particular can be improved to better support scholars and librarians
  • The future costs and growth of the service and approaches for sustainability

Ithaka researchers are conducting interviews and focus groups with current and prospective Web archivists worldwide from a broad range of environments. The results of that research activity will be available in the summer of 2010.

The Web-at-Risk 2005-2009

The original scope of Web-at-Risk was to develop tools that enable librarians and archivists to capture, curate, preserve, and provide access to web-based government and political information. While the primary focus of Web-at-Risk was state and local government information, collections also included web content from federal and international government as well as non-profit sources.

Web-at-Risk was among the first eight grants awarded by the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). The work was undertaken by the CDL and its partners New York University and the University of North Texas, with additional support from Stanford University, the San Diego Supercomputing Center, and the Library of Congress. The University of California libraries also participated, with staff from the Berkeley, Davis, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz campuses lending their domain expertise.

Selected Reports and Publications

The Web-at-Risk at Three: Overview of an NDIIPP Web Archiving Initiative. Tracy Seneca Library Trends, Volume 57, Number 3, Winter 2009, pp. 427-441

The Web at Risk: A Distributed Approach to Preserving our Nation’s Political and Cultural Heritage - Interim Report from the California Digital Library. 2008. 79 p.

Web-at-Risk Assessment Path Final Report. Katherine Murray. 2007. 29p.

Web-at-Risk Assessment Reports and Tools.
Links to the assessment work conducted by the University of North Texas from 2005-2007 including focus group reports and survey instruments.

The Web-at-Risk Wiki

A wiki was maintained to provide reports and news about Web Archiving Service development and grant activity from 2006-2009. This wiki has now been retired, but an archive of the wiki will be made available here shortly.

Last updated: May 2010
Document owner: Tracy Seneca