¡Adelante! Archiving Latin American Web Content

January 13th, 2015

By Natalie Baur

Archivist, Cuban Heritage Collection at University of Miami

2014 was a big news year for Latin America, and as Archivist of the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) (http://library.miami.edu/chc/) at the University of Miami, I was busy helping to document current events and organizations in Cuba and the Cuban Diaspora. With my CHC colleagues, we began pilot projects to document the web presence of Latino theater companies in our collections, Cuban civil society organizations, and web publications of the Cuban diaspora. Then in December, when President Obama announced plans for steps towards normalization of US and Cuba diplomatic relations, the web lit up in both countries with activity surrounding the announcement. We were there to capture the responses and coverage on the web, being careful to choose websites in English and Spanish and from the US, Cuba, and other countries. You can view the collection here.

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 1.59.38 PMA capture of Corriente Agramontista, a website archived in the Civil Society in Cuba Web Collection. https://wayback.archive-it.org/3996/20141128192211/http://agramontista.blogspot.com/#

Access to the Internet and Internet usage in Latin America is exploding. According to the Oxford Internet Institute, “most Latin American countries now can count over 40% of their citizens as Internet users. Because of this, Latin America as a whole now hosts almost as many Internet users as the United States.” The implications for the urgency to begin archiving Latin America’s web heritage are clear: with the growing number of Internet users in the region, more information than ever before is being published and circulated on the web. In Latin America, events are documented on the ground through blogs, online-only newspapers and magazines, social media, and official government websites. The information, news and opinion surrounding events, organizations and social justice movements appears most quickly online and in many cases is also subject to changes or deletion because of the ephemeral nature of the web and intentional removals.

Archive_It_Blog_Jan15Natalie Baur in Quito, Ecuador during an international archives conference.

What is the current state of web archiving in Latin America? In some cases, the web coverage of these events is being captured through web archiving initiatives based in libraries and archives in Latin America. Countries like Brazil, Chile and Colombia have been leading the way in the last few years by beginning initiatives in their national libraries and archives to preserve websites in their countries’ home domains; however, many of these efforts so far have not been made widely available. Chile, for example, took its first major steps towards a national web archiving initiative when it joined the International Internet Preservation Initiative earlier last year. According to project leaders, 2015 will bring more developments from the National Library of Chile’s web archiving initiatives. The National Archive of Colombia just released a new publication in October, 2014 on the basic concepts, strategies and best practices for archiving websites.

Until now many web archiving initiatives are most often organized by US or European-based institutions that are doing work in Latin American scholarship and research.  The University of Texas, Austin has been capturing web content since early 2006 as part of their Latin American Digital Initiative. Their Latin American Governments Document Archive (LAGDA) has archived 391 websites so far.  Going forward, collecting ephemeral, born-digital materials (like websites) in Latin America will require developing consortia, collaborative projects and more outreach to and within the region. So far Brazil, Colombia and Chile are leaders in the region for spreading the word about the importance of web archiving. More is still left to be done to develop workshops, seminar and outreach activities for Latin American librarians and archivists. My hope is that Latin American and Caribbean, US, and Canadian information professionals can start to envision themselves as part of a larger regional network of the Americas, working together to find regional solutions to the new technological challenges facing archives.

Below are some Latin American web archive resources that you can currently find in Archive-It:

Collections from Latin American web archiving institution partners:

Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro
-Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia

Collections from US-Based Archive-It partners including web resources from Latin America:

-University of Miami Libraries web collections, including collections relating to the US-Cuba policy change of December, 2014; and Cuban civil society organizations (https://archive-it.org/organizations/735)

-University of Texas Austin has several web archive resources related to Latin America:

Human Rights Documentation Initiative (http://www.lib.utexas.edu/hrdi/hr_archive)

Latin American Government Documents Archive (https://archive-it.org/collections/176)

Archive of Political Parties and Elections in Latin America (APPELA) (https://archive-it.org/collections/212)

Several Latin American web collections by Kent Norsworthy, LLILAS Benson Digital Scholarship Coordinator (https://archive-it.org/organizations/201)

Archive of Venezuelan Political Discourse ARVEPODIS (https://archive-it.org/collections/215)

-University of New Mexico maintains several web collections on various Latin American themes:

LA ENERGAIA: Energy Policy, Regulation and Dialog in Latin America (https://archive-it.org/collections/1939)

UNM Latin American and Iberian Institute’s page, database and student organization website (https://archive-it.org/collections/4482)

Asamblea de Artistas Revolucionarios de Oaxaca Pictorial Collection (https://archive-it.org/collections/1701)

Chilean comics and graphic novels (https://archive-it.org/collections/4555)

-Internet Archive Global Events, Haiti Earthquake (https://archive-it.org/collections/1784)

-University of North Carolina, Cuba in the News (https://archive-it.org/collections/3872)

-College of William and Mary, Cuban Film (https://archive-it.org/collections/2593)