Reporting back from the IIPC Web Archiving Conference 2021

June 30th, 2021

by Jillian Lohndorf and Tanya Ulmer, Web Archivists for Archive-It

The IIPC Web Archiving Conference (WAC) was held June 15-16 virtually, with pre-recorded presentations made available beforehand, and speakers gathered by topic for live question and answer sessions. Conference participants were able to ask questions during these sessions as well, resulting in robust discussion. Archive-It partners and staff participated in many presentations and discussions, covering a wide breadth of web archive case studies and technical developments.

Four images from Luxembourg including, Red Lion, Red Bridge, Golden Lady, and Melusina.

Some emoxies used to designate virtual tables in Remo (See more at A Virtual Visit to Luxembourg).

The conference opened with remarks from Claude D. Conter, Director of the National Library of Luxembourg, with the rest of the first day split into nine sessions. The first was an invited panel on “Archiving COVID-19” followed by a panel on “Analyzing Archives,” complete with a contribution on “Making web collections for research sustainable & reusable – possibilities and challenges experienced.” The morning was rounded out with a panel on “Supporting Research Use of Web Archives.” 

The middle of the day focused on working together, featuring a panel on “Training, Teaching, Learning,” melding discussion from staff from the Library of Congress and Samantha Abrams, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s iSchool faculty member discussing web archiving training. This segued into panels on “Multi-lingual & Collaborative Archiving,” and then “Archiving Communities,” where Archive-It collaborators Ian Milligan, Samantha Fritz, Nick Ruest & Jimmy Lin discussed “Building community through Archives Unleashed datathons: lessons learned.”  This session grouping closed with Web Archiving Senior Program Manager Lori Donovan chairing the “National Domains” session (featuring Archive-It + Web & Data Services Director Jefferson Bailey speaking about our Whole Earth Archive).

Later in the day, Jefferson Bailey led the “Quality Assurance and Control” session. Always a popular topic with Archive-It partners, this session grappled with both manual and automated quality control, and resulted in a lively discussion over the question “Do we think web archives are more or less complete than physical archives?”

Many of the sessions dove deep into technical developments. The Internet Archive’s Sawood Alam and collaborators spoke on “Readying Web Archives to Consume and Leverage Web Bundles.” Mat Kelly continued the technical theme, discussing his project “WASAPIfying private web archiving tools for persistence and collaboration.”  Ilya Kreymer & Humbert Hardy contributed to the discussion with “Not gone in a Flash! Developing a Flash-capable remote browser emulation system,” investigating ways to incorporate sunsetted Flash content into web archives.

Steady streams of sessions, drop-in chats, posters and panels continued on Day Two of the conference. Sessions 11-19 started with Social Media and ended with Trust in Web Archives, and covered a wide range of topics between, a few of which are highlighted here.

Mementos were explored by both Sawood Alam from the Internet Archive and Shawn Jones from the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Sawood Alam presented Memento Maps as a more efficient routing system for web archive requests, reducing user frustration with false positives and infrastructure loads with false negatives. Shawn Jones showed us how MementoEmbed could produce summary cards from archived pages, and in combination with Raintale could pull users into web archives with more effective storytelling.

Web Archives Switzerland also showed us how they pull users into their Interactive Collage of Websites that users can intuitively browse by zooming in on page images. Barbara Signori and Kai Jauslin wowed the crowd with this new display and search portal, currently only available in their reading room in Bern.

Barbara Signori touches screen with many images of websites.

Barbara Signori demonstrated Web Archive Switzerland’s Interactive Collage of Websites.

And of course, national libraries and archives from the UK, Australia, Belgium, and Canada represented in traditional force on their collections, legal deposits, and newer strategies for capturing Social Media. Ben Els of the hosting Bibliotheque Nationale du Luxembourg (BnL) steered us to their more thematic collections collaboratively curated by subject experts and lightened things up even more with his rubber chicken during drop-in chats!

The BnL and IIPC did a fabulous job of hosting this 2021 Web Archiving Conference virtually in Remo on eight floors, with tables that had a Luxembourgish flair to welcome attendees from across the globe. Each table was labelled with an “emoxy” from Luxembourg, grounding this event in a memorable way the hosting nation. Thank you to BnL and the IIPC for another wonderful global exchange of all things web archives!