Notes from the field: Fall/Winter 2017

January 18th, 2018

by the Archive-It team

Archive-It staff crisscrossed the country this past fall and winter to highlight partners’ efforts to develop, analyze, and share their web archives, and to expand the community of web archiving peers. Read the dispatches below to catch up with the team and these events.

The fall 2017 edition of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference was held in the historic and architecturally-rich city of Buffalo, New York. Web Archivist Mary Haberle attended to chair Web Archiving Democracy, a panel composed of Archive-It partners who archive the websites of elected officials and online government publications. Panelists explored how government records, as evidence of actions taken and decisions made by public officials, are a key resource for electoral accountability and future study of our political history. Archivists from the governmental sector were represented by Dory Bower (U.S. Government Publishing Office), Megan Craynon (Maryland State Archives), and Roger Christman (Library of Virginia). Curators of governmental web archives in academic institutions were given voice by Ben Goldman (Penn State University) and Nicholas Worby (University of Toronto). Digital historian Ian Milligan (University of Waterloo) introduced the need to make web archives more accessible to researchers and the Archives Unleashed Project, which aims to facilitate data-driven research work with “derivative data sets” taken from web archive files. A short summary of the panel and copies of the presenters’ slides are available online.

Photo of Web Archiving Democracy at MARACStanding room only at “Web Archiving Democracy.” Photo by Greg Wiedeman.

Web Archivist Sylvie Rollason-Cass presented the Community Webs program to the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM) conference in  Bernalillo, New Mexico this past October. She was joined by Natalie Milbrodt of Queens Public Library and the Queens Memory Project, a Library Lead partner in the Community Webs program. Together they discussed the goals of Community Webs and the importance of web archiving to public libraries and their patrons. Natalie shared her experience beginning a new web archiving program at her institution in this context, and how QPL subsequently plans to engage their diverse stakeholder community in building and using the new collections. Slides from this presentation can be found here.

“Digital Blackness in the Archive” attendees in Ferguson, MO.

“Digital Blackness in the Archive” attendees in Ferguson, MO. Photo by Documenting the Now.

Web Archivist Karl-Rainer Blumenthal joined conversations about when, why, and how to archive social media in particular at Documenting the Now’s December symposium, Digital Blackness in the Archive. Scholars, activists, technologists, and collectors (including several Archive-It partners!) gathered at the Ferguson Municipal Public Library, then Washington University in St. Louis, to discuss our respective roles and responsibilities in developing and interpreting the historical record of the movement for black lives. A technology workshop on the symposium’s second day gave attendees hands-on opportunities with collecting tools for social media, including the brand new beta app developed by the Documenting the Now team itself in order to facilitate appraisal and selection of tweets and their linked resources.  

In October and December, Jefferson Bailey, Director of Web Archiving, presented at both the DLF/NDSA meeting and at the CNI Fall 2017 meeting. At DLF, Jefferson joined a panel with public library partners from the Community Webs project and also spoke on a panel with some of our government friends about our large-scale efforts to archive the .gov web domain, including the End of Term project to document administration change earlier in the year. Continuing #hotellife at the CNI meeting in Washington D.C. in December, Jefferson presented with partners from Stanford University on the outcomes and next steps on our joint WASAPI “APIs for web archiving” project (presentation link). We are excited to have a whole mess of deliverables for both Community Webs and WASAPI coming out over the next few months!