Web archive collection topics can augment your traditional collecting practices or open the existing collection scope to new areas that you can’t collect physically. Thoughtful selection of websites and web pages that reflect the local community is key to building valuable local history web archives. Outreach and collaboration with your library’s community are important elements of successful web archive collection development.
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This module will help you begin to consider how web archiving fits into your current collecting practices and how it can broaden them, as well as where an how to solicit input from stakeholders.
After completing this module you should have a framework for developing web archiving collection guidelines or updating existing collection policies to include web archives. You will also begin to identify potential avenues for community engagement and areas of collecting focus.
The first phase of any web archiving project is identifying the online content that you plan to collect.
This lesson will introduce four steps that can help you refine your selection process. The steps are:
- Define the goals and scope of the project
- Research and prioritize potential web-based content
- Conduct outreach to ensure community participation and to test assumptions regarding relevant content
- Finalize plan for content selection and update current collecting policies to reflect web archiving
Note that outreach, both internal and external, is an important component of the content identification phase, especially in the context of a project with a local history and community focus. Even if you already have a clear concept for your web archive it is important to test that concept with key members of your community, your patrons and your colleagues. You will find that there will be short and long-term dividends to building community participation into the early stages of the project.
Intro to Web Archive Collection Development (12 mins) Diantha Schull, Community Webs Curriculum Consultant gives an overview of collection development for web archives.
Define the Goals and Scope of your Web-Based Collecting Activity
Defining goals and project scope in the beginning will help guide subsequent decisions on content priorities and exclusions.
Use the Collection Development Guideline Questionnaire as a jumping off point to start thinking about your web archive collection development guidelines, answering the four questions:
- What are your goals for your web archiving program? List at least three.
- What will be the scope of your web archiving program? Will it focus on a single key aspect of your community, or will it cover several topics?
- What will you prioritize? Are there specific topics, sites or types of web content you want to prioritize over others?
- How do your program goals align with your organization’s current collection development priorities and policies? Do they fall under existing priorities, or add new ones?
Each institution will answer these questions differently, based on institutional considerations and the profile of your target community or communities.
Web Archive Collection Development Policy at Queens Public Library (5 mins) Natalie Milbrodt shares her experience developing a web archive collection policy, including how it provides context for their web archiving program within the larger policies of QPL.
Identify and Prioritize Potential Online Content Sources
Based on the goals you selected in Step 1, you will start to identify and analyze potential web-based content that serve them. For the purposes of your review, and your final selection, it may be helpful to develop some criteria for source assessment, such as:
- Alignment with collecting goals and priorities
- The extent to which they are unique, ephemeral or endangered
- The extent to which they reflect the recommendations of community members, colleagues and patrons (see below)
Soliciting content and topic recommendations from community members will be an important part of the collection development process. Depending on your chosen themes and goals, suggestions from community stakeholders may be essential for identifying the most appropriate websites to include.
The Community Archivist Program at the Austin History Center (20 mins) Two Community Archivists share case studies for engaging members of underrepresented communities in the library’s collection development efforts
Web Archiving at Henderson Libraries (5 mins) Dana Bullinger shares her experience determining collection topics and incorporating input from community members.
Conduct Outreach to Solicit Recommendations for Relevant Sources and to Test Assumptions Regarding Content Selection
Input from colleagues, patrons and other community stakeholders can help expand your list of potential sources and test your assumptions about content. Outreach to these constituencies will also help bolster their interest and involvement and can foster important long-term relationships with community groups. In addition, through outreach, you will be able to identify individuals that could contribute to your project as internal or external advisors, community allies, volunteers and even supporters.
Outreach to Colleagues:
Whether they are subject specialists, teen librarians, or security guards, your colleagues are members of the community whose suggestions could help with collection development. Through informal discussions or a more formal survey process you can solicit your colleagues’ input regarding online local history appropriate for web archiving.
Outreach to Community Members:
Community Outreach can be done multiple ways, including distribution of a survey via an organization or agency that works with potential target communities, such as newcomers or residents of a neighborhood whose history is not well represented in your current collections. Focus groups in branches or neighborhood meeting places, a targeted online survey, or more informal consultation with members of key community organizations are other outreach approaches that should generate useful suggestions while also building awareness of your archive and its goals for wider community representation.
Outreach to Patrons:
Your current patrons constitute a final group of stakeholders whose ideas about community content you will want to tap into. It may be helpful to meet with a select group in an informal setting to discuss the project or even to meet one-to-one with patrons that you think could contribute ideas or other input.
One result of your outreach may be the formation of an advisory group to inform project development and assist with community communications. Members of an advisory group may help build connections with groups responsible for content sources, inform community members about the project and its relevance to their lives, and assist in identifying new sources of support.
Collection Building at Cleveland Public Library (7 mins) Chatham Ewing shares details about how Cleveland Public Library determined the focus of their web archive collections
Web Archiving at the Kansas City Public Library (10 mins) David LaCrone shares strategies that Kansas City Public Library took to help engage community members in the collection development process
Crowdsourcing Strategies for Web Archives (5 mins) Sylvie Rollason-Cass shares strategies that the Archive-It team has utilized when developing community driven collections.
Finalize Your Selection Plan and Align It with Existing Collection Development Policies
The last step in planning the content of your web archiving program is to draw up a Web Archiving Collection Plan. This Plan will be informed by your initial assumptions, your assessment of potential websites and other online materials, the feedback you have received from diverse constituencies and colleagues, and your final goals. It should include a statement of priorities and also indicate web-based materials that you do not intend to collect.
The Web Archive Collection Plan, which may be developed with input from internal and external advisors, will guide program implementation. It will also provide the basis for publicity and other internal and external communications about the project.
Once you have finalized your approach to Web Archiving you will need to make sure that the collecting policies it implies are reflected in your current Collection Development Policies. Because public library web archiving is relatively new there are limited examples of policies that reference web archiving, most of which were developed by members of the original Community Webs cohort.
Taylor, Nicholas. “Collection Development for Selective Web Archiving.” View
Huth, Geof. Case Study 2: “Imaginative Digital Appraisal in a Small Institution.” View
"Born Digital: Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories ." View
Rollason-Cass, Sylvie “A Place for the Displaced: Collecting, Preserving and Learning from the Blogs of Hurricane Katrina.” Archive-It blog post. View
Theimer, Kate. “The Future of Archives is Participatory: Archives as Platform, or A New Mission for Archives.” Archives Next blog post. View
Wallace, Patrick. “Unauthorized Voices in the Archive: Documenting Students Life in Middlebury College’s Community Web Archive.” Archive-It blog post. View
- Fill out the Collection Development Guideline Questionnaire
- Consider areas of collecting focus
- Identify individuals or groups you might ask to be part of a collection development advisory group
Please complete the following steps to prepare for the next module in this series:
- Decide on at least one topic for a collection you can start right away
- Select at least 3 websites/pages to include in that collection