Two Grants Announced Supporting Web Archiving

We are excited to announce Internet Archive’s participation in two new grant-funded collaborative projects to advance the field of web archiving! Our Archive-It service, which works with libraries, archives, museums and others to provide the tools for institutions to create their own web archives, will partner with New York University and Old Dominion University on two separate areas of work. We thank both The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for their recognition of the value of web archiving and their support for the continued development of tools and initiatives to expand the quality, accessibility, and extensibility of these collections. We also thank our awesome collaborative partners on these projects, New York University Libraries, NYU’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation (MIAP) program, and Old Dominion University’s Web Science and Digital Libraries Research Group and look forward to working with them as part of our broader initiative for “Building Libraries Together.”

For the project “Archiving the Websites of Contemporary Composers,” led by NYU Libraries and funded with a grant of $480,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we will work with the Libraries and MIAP.  This project will archive web-based and born-digital audiovisual materials, and research and develop tools for their improved capture and discoverability. Contemporary musical works, as well as the rich secondary materials that accompany them, are increasingly migrating to the web. We outlined a number of current challenges to capturing and replaying online multimedia, such as dynamic and transient URL generation and adaptive bitrate streaming, as well as a need for continued research and development around the integration of web archives and non-web collections.

We have two specific pieces of work in the grant. First, we will build tools to improve the crawling and capture of web-based audiovisual materials, addressing the increasing complexity of streaming audiovisual materials, especially on third-party hosting and sharing platforms. This development work will build on our experience creating “Heritrix helper” tools like Umbra. Our second area of work will explore methods to integrate discovery of high-quality, non-web multimedia content held in external repositories into the Archive-It platform. Linking Archive-It collections with non-web institutional content has great potential to integrate web and non-web archives. This work will build on NYU’s creation of an API for their preservation repository, our increased use of API-based systems integration in Archive-It 5.0, and our continued work on improved content discovery for web collections. See NYU’s press release for more details.

The second recently-announced grant project is being lead by Old Dominion University’s Web Science and Digital Libraries Research Group, which received a $468,618 National Leadership Grant for Libraries from IMLS for the project, “Combining Social Media Storytelling With Web Archives” (grant number LG-71-15-0077). Readers not familiar with ODU’s great history of research and development around web archives are encourage to check out projects such as WARCreate/WAIL, their work on visualizations and Archive-It, and our recent favorite, the #whatdiditlooklike tool. In this project ODU will be building tools and processes to assimilate user-focused, online storytelling methods, such as Storify, to 1) summarize existing collections and 2) bootstrap new or expand existing web archive collections. The project will provide new ways to create unique topical and thematic collections through URLs shared via social media and storytelling platforms.

We will be working with them to integrate these tools in Archive-It, conduct user testing and training, and explore other ways that storytelling and user-generated materials can help build narrative pathways into large, often diffuse, collections of web content. We are excited to work with ODU and continue our increased focus on new models of access for web archives, as many institutional web collections are now of a breadth, volume, and operational maturity to begin focusing on novel ways their web archives can be studied and better understood by users and researchers.

Thanks again to Mellon Foundation and IMLS for supporting these cooperative efforts to advance web archiving and we are excited to work with our great partners and the broader community to keeping preserving and expanding access to the rich historical and cultural record documented on the web.

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