What belongs in a community web archive? New collecting guidelines and examples from Community Webs partners

June 5th, 2019

by Sylvie Rollason-Cass, Web Archivist for Archive-It

What belongs in a web archive? And what doesn’t? With the sheer vastness of resources available, how does a community-based program decide what is most important and necessary to collect for the future? Even as web archiving becomes more widely practiced, publicly available examples of collection development policies to guide these decisions can be hard to find and adapt for local use. The public and local history librarians in the Community Webs cohort tackled this issue head-on. They’ve described what they want to collect and why here on the blog, and written their decisions into policies that can grow their own collections and others’.

Starting with a short questionnaire and continuing through the Community Webs curriculum, cohort members were tasked with developing policies or guidelines that could fit within their institution’s larger collecting goals. For some this meant honing an established web archiving program. For others this was the first time that web archives were considered within the scope of their wider institutional collecting policies.

Excerpt from the Collection Development Guidelines Questionnaire

Some found that their web collecting goals aligned nicely with their existing plans among other media and were able to weave web archives into existing documentation threads. Others with discrete goals found it easier to write wholly new policy documents specific to the format. Some even opted to pair these collecting value statements and guidelines with website nomination forms for direct community member input.

Excerpt from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s seed nomination form

As you might then expect, the resulting policies are as diverse as the institutions that developed them. However, each web archivist benefited from reviewing and learning from those that came before them. Here are a few examples of the policy documents that Community Webs cohort members developed:

DC Public Library’s Web Archiving Policy

East Baton Rouge Parish Library Web Archives Collection Development Policy

New Brusnwick Free Public Library Web Archives collection development Policy

Queens Borough Public Library Web Archives Collection Development Policy

These guidelines will grow and change just like the web around them, but we hope that they can inform and help an even wider web archiving community of practice. We look forward to seeing many more!