Web archiving

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Archiving the web allows us to combat the impermanent nature of online content, making future access and use possible. The Folger has been collecting and archiving select websites using the Archive-It subscription service since 2011. The Folger Shakespeare Library web collections can be accessed here.

Web Archiving: The Basics

The IIPC defines web archiving as: “[the process of] collecting portions of the World Wide Web, preserving the collections in an archival format, and then serving the archives for access and use.” Web content is harvested through a process in which a web crawler accesses and gathers content from designated URLs through a process referred to as crawling. A web crawler is an internet “bot,” or program, that browses the web for indexing purposes. Crawlers access the desired website in a similar way to a web browser and captures all content related to the site, including any necessary information needed to render the site correctly as if it were live on the web: CSS files, etc.

The results of these crawls are captures of web content that can then be archived, described, and curated into digital collections. There are multiple digital resources involved in the capture and harvesting of even just one seed. A seed is an individual URL within a web archive collection. Following a web crawl, the information pertaining to a seed is organized into a WARC preservation file. The WARC file format is able to contain all necessary information and digital resources gathered from a seed during a crawl. It can also be expanded upon to include ancillary metadata elements. Websites archived in the WARC file format can be viewed and interacted with in a web browser using access tools such as the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Advanced manipulation of web archive data can facilitate a number of research techniques: potential uses for web archive collections include textual or link analysis, among others.

Ultimately, web archiving is intended to preserve a realm of cultural history that is increasingly present, and sometimes only present online in digital format. Digital information is very sensitive. Sites are reliant upon a number of external factors in order to be accessed by users: content creators, host domains, web browsers, markup languages, etc. Subsequently, internet content can disappear for a variety of reasons frequently and often without notice. For example, the popular web resource Mr. Shakespeare and the Internet was taken offline in October of 2013. If not saved, the information it contained would have been lost to users. Fortunately, the website was archived in time by the Internet Archive and is made accessible via the Wayback Machine.

Web Archiving at the Folger Shakespeare Library

The Folger began archiving and preserving select websites using the Archive-It subscription service in October of 2011. Collections are administered by the Folger Shakespeare Library: Central Library. They can be accessed here. The mission of the Folger Shakespeare Library is as follows: “to preserve and enhance our collection; to make our collection accessible to scholars and others who can use it productively; and to advance understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare’s writings and the culture of the early modern world.”

Developed by Jim Kuhn (Head of Collection Information Services, 2006-2013) and Emily Wahl (Central Library), the Folger web collections were created to address a new update (2010) to the Folger Collection Development mandate which expresses an institutional commitment to digital collecting in Shakespeare-related areas, including born-digital ephemera.

For information on administering the Folger Shakespeare Library web collections, please see the corresponding documentation on Bard 2. [Please note: This information is only available internally to Folger Shakespeare Library employees.]

Current Folger Shakespeare Library Web Collections

Folger Shakespeare Library Websites and Social Media

An institutional collection; Folger Shakespeare Library Websites and Social Media archives and preserves the Folger's web presence over time. The collection includes all Folger domains, blogs, and social media profiles. Seeds in this collection are crawled for new content on a quarterly basis. The collection can be accessed here.

Shakespeare Festivals and Theatrical Companies

A thematic collection; its purpose is to archive official websites for theatrical companies and drama festivals which focus on Shakespeare performance. The scope of this collection is primarily limited to the United States; however, a growing number of international resources are included as well. There are currently over 280 seeds in this collection and they are crawled for new content on a semi-annual basis. The collection can be accessed here.

Shakespeare Anniversary Celebrations

An events-based collection; this collection seeks to document various celebrations, commentary, and events as depicted on the web related to major anniversary celebrations and commemorations of Shakespeare's birth and death.. The collection can be accessed here.

Permissions Policy (Draft)

The Folger Shakespeare Library Web Archives program was created to encourage and support scholarship and research in the arts and humanities disciplines in an accessible manner to contemporary audiences. Collecting as a nonprofit library, archive, and a leading educational resource for educators and scholars, all Folger Shakespeare Library web preservation efforts are intended to be non-commercial in nature and non-intrusive in form. The Web Archive Administrator will remove harvested web content from the archive upon request by site owner(s).

Folger Shakespeare Library tweet archives

Our tweet archives archive tweets by hashtag, using Martin Hawksey’s TAGS tool and Google Spreadsheets. Because the archives are text-only, we do not archive #FolgerFinds or other image-specific hashtags. We archive tweets for the following hashtags:

#EMDA2015 was used for the Folger's “Early Modern Digital Agendas: Advanced Topics” Institute, which met from 15 June through 1 July 2015. The archive can be accessed here. A searchable version can be accessed here, and a visualization is available here.

#emda17 is being used for the Folger's 2017 meeting of the “Early Modern Digital Agendas” Institute, which meets from 17 through 28 July 2017. The archive can be accessed here. A searchable version can be accessed here, and a visualization is available here.

#emdaremix was used for the 2016 meeting of the Folger's “Early Modern Digital Agendas” Institute. The archive can be accessed here. A searchable version can be accessed here, and a visualization is available here.

#FirstFolio is used for the Folger's First Folio Tour. The archive can be accessed here. A searchable version is available here, and a visualization is available here.

#FolgerAcademy is used for the Folger's Teaching Shakespeare Institute's Summer Academy. The archive can be accessed here. A searchable version is available here, and a visualization is available here.

#FolgerConsort is used for tweets about the Consort. The archive can be accessed here. A searchable version is available here, and a visualization is available here.

#FolgerEMED is used for tweets about the Folger's Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama (EMED). The archive can be accessed here. A searchable version is available here, and a visualization is available here.

#FolgerEMMO is used for the Folger's Early Modern Manuscripts Online project. The archive can be accessed here. A searchable version is available here, and a visualization is available here.

#FolgerFest is used for the Folger's Secondary School Festival. The archive can be accessed here. A searchable version is available here, and a visualization is available here.

#FolgerInstitute is used for live-tweeting Institute talks. The first archive, 2014–2015, can be accessed here. A searchable version is available here. The second archive, 2015–, can be accessed here. A searchable version is available here, and a visualization is available here.

#FolgerMasterClass is used for the Folger's online Master Class series. The archive can be accessed here. A searchable version is available here, and a visualization is available here.

#FolgerNCTE is used for Folger sessions during the convention of the National Council of Teachers of English. The archive can be accessed here. A searchable version is available here, and a visualization is available here.

#McKeeFellow and #FolgerMcKee are used for the Folger's Lily McKee High School Fellowship Program. The archive can be accessed here. A searchable version is available here, and a visualization is available here.

#Shax450 was used to celebrate the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth in 2014. The archive can be accessed here.

#SHX400 is used to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, which will occur in 2016, and all things related to The Wonder of Will. The archive can be accessed here. A searchable version is available here.

#Shxbday is used to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday. The archive can be accessed here. A searchable version is available here, and a visualization is available here.

#TSIFolger is used for the Folger's Teaching Shakespeare Institute. The archive can be accessed here. A searchable version is available here, and a visualization is available here.

Additional Resources

An Introduction to Web Archiving at the Folger | The Collation

Continuing the Celebration: Preserving Birthday-Related Digital Ephemera | The Collation

William Shakespeare: Playwright, Icon, Web Archivist? | The Archive-It Blog

Folger Shakespeare Library Web Archives Summary Report, May 2014 Prepared by Jaime McCurry, 2013-14 National Digital Stewardship Resident

The National Digital Stewardship Residency at the Folger Shakespeare Library

Contact

Please feel free to contact the Folger Web Archives Administrator at folgerwebarchives@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments regarding the Folger Shakespeare Library web collections, or if you would like to report a problem you have encountered while interacting with these collections. If you would like to nominate a website for inclusion, please complete this form. While all nominations are carefully reviewed, please note that we cannot guarantee the inclusion of a nominated website in the Folger web collections.