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Archive-It Basics: Why Archive Websites for Digital Preservation?


AI_logo-762466-editedAfter reviewing your technical requirements, you’ve selected Archive-It™ for your institution’s web archiving program. Congratulations on choosing the world’s oldest and most proven web archiving service.

Before you can determine a vision and objective for how your institution will implement Archive-It, however, it is appropriate to review your organization’s goals for the project. This includes understanding why the institution decided to archive the website and ensuring that your team knows what the institution wants to accomplish in doing so: Why archive websites? Once you put Archive-It into action and develop greater experience with the practice of website archiving, those goals are likely to evolve. Archive-It has found that many institutions tend to revisit and refine their web archiving objectives throughout the life of the program. This article is intended to explore some of the ways that current Archive-It customers are using the product in order to help you develop a broader context for how Archive-It can best assist your institution.

Some institutions that use Archive-It today are responding to the same threat that spurred the creation of Archive-It’s parent institution, the Internet Archive. They choose to archive their organization’s websites because they believe their web content is at risk of disappearing. Archive-It ensures that web content will be captured and kept accessible, even in cases of rapidly changing events, including natural disasters or political uprisings, such as the 2014 unrest in Ukraine.

A number of Archive-It’s partners are legally obligated to archive all official documents produced by the institutions within their domain, a scope that is frequently interpreted to include a comprehensive historical record of the institution’s online presence over time. Other Archive-It partners are attempting to fulfill archival mandates set from within their institution, such as requirements to archive specific publications that are available only in digital formats. Examples might include to archive university course catalogs and reports or to archive state government publications or archive local government publications.

For some institutions, Archive-It is a tool for augmenting an existing collection development policy or digital preservation program. These organizations may use Archive-It to begin archiving web content that enhances or supplements topics already emphasized in their traditional collecting activities.

Archive-It is an invaluable tool for researchers and academics who have recognized the growing influence of social media sites. Equipped with Archive-It, researchers can develop a time-indexed web archive on a specific theme or topic that includes the different perspectives and commentary available only on social media sites, blogs and similar sources. The same functionality can assist state and local governments that need to capture the social media profiles and activities of their elected officials and agencies.

The visions and goals that your institution has for using Archive-It will shape many of the policies and decisions you and your colleagues will make in the later stages of your web archiving program. We will look at those decisions in an upcoming post.


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