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Assessing Web Archiving Staffing Resources

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455071623-215854-editedOnce you’ve decided to begin a web archiving project to preserve your institution’s cultural history or research or to meet your organization’s specific needs, Archive-It™ can be extensively automated. One of its most attractive attributes is the turnkey service that allows organizations to begin archiving web content quickly, without being forced to invest days or weeks into learning a complicated new system.

Still, organizations embarking on a web archiving project with Archive-It will need to make a number of important decisions, several of which will hinge upon how and when to deploy one of their most important resources: staff members.

As a managed, offsite service, Archive-It has low overhead and does not typically require support from an organization’s information technology staff. In fact, about half the organizations that use Archive-It spend less than one hour per week with the product, according to an Archive-It customer survey in 2012. Three out of four institutions using Archive-It had fewer than four staff members involved in the ongoing operations of their archival project. Relatively few of these were IT workers; most were either full-time archivists or library staff, sometimes supplemented with volunteers or student assistants.

The policies and procedures that your organization decides to implement in conjunction with your web archiving project, however, may impact your staff resources. At one Archive-It partner, a small private university, the archival project is overseen by one person, who also has other duties. At another Archive-It partner, a large public research university, the web archiving project has an entire organizational chart of its own, with numerous expert contributors from various subject matter areas coordinating their efforts through a single information technology staffer. Working groups that include staff from different areas of the university’s library help shape the institution’s policies for the use of Archive-It, along with its web archiving policy in general.

Most Archive-It partners will find themselves somewhere in the middle, and sketching out the various components of the web archiving program can help define its parameters. A daily task might involve reviewing post-crawl reports to confirm the successful capture of that day’s web crawls, while a weekly task might involve visually verifying a sample of that week’s archived content. An annual task might include a comprehensive review of all content types and web pages scheduled to be archived. These are just examples; each organization’s needs will be unique.

Could external factors increase or decrease the amount of staff available? An archival project may take place in cooperation with other institutions or third parties. In some cases, a need for high-level cooperation between agencies will be clear cut, such as when two institutions – universities, museums, government agencies, etc. – are mandated to archive the same material. In other cases, smaller institutions may form a consortium to share access to Archive-It’s capabilities while expanding the pool of staff and other resources available for the project.

Most Archive-It partners will find themselves somewhere in the middle, and sketching out the various components of the web archiving program can help define its parameters. A daily task might involve reviewing post-crawl reports to confirm the successful capture of that day’s web crawls, while a weekly task might involve visually verifying a sample of that week’s archived content. An annual task might include a comprehensive review of all content types and web pages scheduled to be archived. These are just examples; each organization’s needs will be unique.

Could external factors increase or decrease the amount of staff available? An archival project may take place in cooperation with other institutions or third parties. In some cases, a need for high-level cooperation between agencies will be clear cut, such as when two institutions – universities, museums, government agencies, etc. – are mandated to archive the same material. In other cases, smaller institutions may form a consortium to share access to Archive-It’s capabilities while expanding the pool of staff and other resources available for the project.

These are examples of questions to consider while planning a web archiving project – but if you aren’t sure about the answers yet, don’t worry. Reed Tech and Archive-It offer expert advice and assistance through informational webinars, as well as hands-on experience through an Archive-It trial account. 



Register for an Archive-It webinar

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