5 Questions with Web Archivist Jillian Lohndorf

March 24th, 2016


Welcome to Jillian Lohndorf, our newest Archive-It Web Archivist! Along with the rest of the team, Jillian will provide ongoing support to all Archive-It partners. Since that will include answering questions, we thought we’d get her started with some about her.

What brought you to your new role with Archive-It?
Previously, I was the Web Services Librarian at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, where I was responsible for all web content as well as instruction and reference for the online campus. I worked in more traditional archives before that, so I really put the web and archivist in Web Archivist. I’ve been an Internet Archive user for years, so I was thrilled at the opportunity to join Archive-It. And I am new to the city, so am tickled pink to come to work every day at such a venerable San Francisco institution!

What led you to develop an interest in web archiving?
I had used the internet for years before I understood that it wasn’t static–information that I found completely shocking! I want people to know that just because the web is here to stay, the content on it might not be. Whether it’s saving a family photo stream for posterity, or political ads to hold candidates accountable, preserving web content is essential for an accurate societal memory. I come from the academic world, where research is increasingly born-digital. A broken link can render years of hard work invisible, and create information gaps, skewing new research. It’s like the old tree-in-a-forest saying: if a webpage goes missing, does it mean that it never existed? Plus, I generally think we should save our wonder for bigger things than what we put on our blog back in college.

What’s it like to work at the Internet Archive so far?
Pretty fabulous. Everyone is really passionate about IA’s values and doing great work to further its mission. And we work in a converted church, which is pretty neat.

What content from the web are you most passionate about archiving?
Videos of the greatest band ever, Fleetwood Mac. In all seriousness, videos are an evolving part of the internet. Remember when there was no video on the web? Now there is embedded video, streaming video, YouTube, Vimeo; there are lots of different types, and some can be challenging to archive. I’m excited to work with Archive-It’s partners to ensure that their videos (and their other content) are archived for future generations.

You just moved to San Francisco from Chicago! What are you most excited about?
Year-round camping! As much as I love the internet, on most weekends you can find me in a tent in the woods, with no wifi to be found.