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Harvard Library’s Environmental Scan of Web Archiving

By Andrea Goethals, Manager of Digital Preservation and Repository Services; Preservation Services

 

Managing born-digital material, including content that originated on the web, has been one of Harvard Library’s strategic priorities for FY15 and 16. As a result, the Web Archive Working Group has been gathering information to inform recommendations for a web archiving strategy for Harvard Library. One of the information-gathering activities the working group engaged in over the last year was an environmental scan of the current issues and trends in web archiving nationally and internationally. Two members of the group, Andrea Goethals and Abigail Bordeaux, worked closely with a consultant, Gail Truman of Truman Technologies, to conduct the five-month study and write the report. The study began in August 2015 and was made possible by the generous support of the Arcadia Fund.

The purpose of the environmental scan was to explore and document current web archiving programs (and institutions desiring a similar capacity) to identify common concerns, needs, and expectations in the collection and provision of web archives to users; the provision and maintenance of web archiving infrastructure and services; and the use of web archives by researchers. The ultimate goal of the survey was to identify opportunities for future collaborative exploration. Information provided by this scan will help Harvard Library form its web archiving strategy, but will also be shared internationally to inform research and development priorities.

The research methods included interviews with web archiving practitioners, researchers and service providers; independent research; and participation in relevant working groups and conferences. Profiles were developed for 23 institutions worldwide that are active in web archiving. Information was gathered about current practices with particular attention given to opportunities for collaborative efforts to address the main challenges and gaps.

The environmental scan uncovered 22 opportunities for future research and development. At a high level these opportunities fall under four themes: (1) increase communication and collaboration, (2) focus on “smart” technical development, (3) focus on training and skills development, and (4) build local capacity.

The complete findings can be found in the final report, which has been deposited to Harvard’s DASH repository.

Article written by Andrea Goethals, Manager of Digital Preservation and Repository Services; Preservation Services.

Article published on March 16, 2016.

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