The National Archives is to pilot a web archiving model for councils to ensure important online information is preserved for future generations. Currently, The National Archives works in partnership with the Internet Memory Foundation to archive central government websites but its remit does not extend to cover all the local government or community websites which may be of interest to local record offices.
The pilot will run in seven council archives covering more than 20 councils. Staff will be trained in how to develop a curated web archive for their area and will be provided with free support from The National Archives and the Internet Memory Foundation for the duration of the pilot.
Web archiving is the process of collecting websites and the information they contain from the World Wide Web and preserving them in an archive. The UK Government Web Archive, which is run by The National Archives, contains more than a billion pages of archived material from 2,000 central government websites dating back to 1997.
Websites are increasingly used by councils, businesses and charities as a means of communicating with the public and the need to ensure their long term preservation has become increasingly urgent. The websites are themselves an important historical record of each institution and its interaction with the community. However the constantly changing nature of the medium has led many people to regard them as ephemeral or insignificant. Without proper capture and storage the information they contain will be lost to future generations of researchers and historians.
The pilot will used as the basis for creating a template for procuring web archiving services and guidance on best practice to help archive services across the country develop their own web archives. The pilot will archive council websites as well as community or private websites which the archive services think may be of interest to future local historians.