Tag Archives: community archives

Preserving Wilmington History on the Web

Guest Post by: Tricia Dean, Tech Services Manager at Wilmington Public Library District (IL)

This post is part of a series written by members of the Community Webs program. Community Webs advances the capacity for community-focused memory organizations to build web and digital archives documenting local histories and underrepresented voices. For more information, visit communitywebs.archive-it.org/

Wilmington Public Library. Photo: T. Dean 4/21/22

I was excited when I saw the call for participants in Community Webs. While Wilmington, Illinois is a small, rural town (5,664 people), the thought was that we still had something to contribute. Most Archive-It partners are universities, museums and large libraries, and being in their company was a little daunting to me initially. Other institutions have someone who opens the project, and then it develops into a larger team project. Wilmington Public Library District (WPLD) has a much smaller staff; the project has been wholly mine, which has been both thrilling and terrifying. 

Wilmington is a small rural town, falling on the lower end of the economic scale.  Because we are isolated,the library plays a vital part in the community.  We offer the usual storytimes and adult programs, but also loan out hotspots and ChromeBooks. We have 45 hotspots and these are almost always checked out; some people are using them for vacations, but by usage it is apparent that others are using them as their primary means of connecting to the Internet. Internet access has been more and more important, but after the Covid-19 broke out, more governmental services went strictly online, making access even more critical – and to many who had not been regular patrons. WPLD is a hub for the community, offering computers, information, tax forms, and a place to come in and chat – even more important when we are trying to stay close and limit outside contact.

Main Street in Wilmington, circa 1900

I am a Chicago native who went to Champaign-Urbana for grad school. I was a scanner for the Internet Archive for several years where I was privileged to handle some incunabula (pre-1500 items). I am the Technical Services Supervisor at Wilmington; primarily I catalog our materials, but I also tend toward Projects, from adding series labels to re-orienting all the calls in the juvenile non-fiction section.  I am currently going through our attic to help determine what we have (it’s a Mystery!). I’m making lists, and hoping to have items to scan which would be available online, in multiple places. I applied for the Community Webs program (with my director’s blessing) because I felt that it’s important for small towns to be represented in the collection of history. Only 20% of the population still lives outside major metro areas, but it is every bit as important to capture that life as it is to retain the history of large cities.

Wilmington Library joined Community Webs in the summer of 2021. After some technical clarifications with the Archive-It staff WLPD was set up. In considering what made Wilmington unique, the first link was to our library and social media pages. Social media has grown in importance in the last twenty years, but it became a vital link during Covid when services were otherwise unavailable. Wilmington Library YouTube videos, how-tos, crafts and storytime, stand to remind us of how we responded and as a continuing reference for parents who can’t get to the library. But since social media, specifically, is known for ‘right now,’ it lacks the kind of reflection over time that we can create through the Community Webs project.

We may be small, but we have a number of historical articles and sites which needed to be brought together. We want to reflect events that have been impactful to our community, from the explosion of the Joliet Armory in the 1940s to the continuing issues with the Wilmington Dam, which has proved dangerous, but has complicated ownership issues. I still have a long way to go; the projects (attic/local history/web archive) are all intertwined. Wilmington has the usual Community Resources and City Government collections in Archive-It. Going forward, we want to continue to develop our Wilmington History collection. We are working on local history and will establish a collection of materials from our attic and public donations. Our local paper has vertical files which could be a goldmine of information – again, on my to-do list.  We will be kicking off an Oral History Project, which will begin with a series of simple gatherings/coffee hours for our seniors, providing a place for them to gather, and a space to share their stories. I am hoping these will be in our Community Webs archive. Who better to speak to where we’ve been and where we are than some of our oldest residents?

Wilmington Dam (present). Photo: T. Dean 4/21/22
[Photo by John Irvine – Chicago Tribune – August 29, 1992]. Shallow appearing dam is still quite hazardous, partially because it doesn’t ‘look’ dangerous – photo long before warning signs went up.

Why is Community Webs important? Because it will help to remember when we cannot keep up with the information overload. Because there is so much happening that we miss a good deal of what is around us – or can’t bear to face it for long. Because so very very much of our lives are now online – and can be erased with a keystroke. Because we are seeing, painfully, that those who do not learn from the past will be/are condemned to re-live it. And, for Wilmington, I think it is important because so many of the voices and sites being captured are from museums, universities and large public libraries. It is important that we remember that we used to be far less urban than we are today. It is important to remember the smaller places, those who are too easily lost in the maelstrom of modern life, because to be forgotten is to be erased.

Sharing Inuit Voices Across Time: Inuit Circumpolar Council Alaska’s Web and Digital Archive

Guest post by: Inuit Circumpolar Council Alaska

This post is part of a series written by members of Internet Archive’s Community Webs program. Community Webs advances the capacity for community-focused memory organizations to build web and digital archives documenting local histories and underrepresented voices. For more information, visit communitywebs.archive-it.org/

Can you describe your community and the services and role of your organization within the community?

Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Alaska works on behalf of the Inupiat of the North Slope, Northwest and Bering Straits Regions; St. Lawrence Island Yupik; and the Central Yup’ik and Cup’ik of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region in Southwest Alaska. ICC Alaska is a national member of ICC International. Since inception in 1977, ICC has gained consultative status II with the United Nations, and is a Permanent Participant of the Arctic Council.

For example, ICC has provisional status with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), is an active member at the Arctic Council senior level and within the working groups and is a prominent voice at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Work and engagement occur in many ways at these different Fora. Within the UNFCCC, ICC has taken a leadership role in putting forward Indigenous Knowledge and establishing a platform for providing equitable space for multiple knowledge systems. Additionally, at the UNFCCC COP 26, ICC Chair, Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough, led an ICC delegation made up of Inuitrepresentatives from across the Arctic.

ICC COP26 position paper, available at https://iccalaska.org/wp-icc/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/20211028-en-ICC-COP26-Position-Paper.pdf

An immense amount of work occurs in direct partnership with Inuit communities to inform work at international fora. For example, ICC is facilitating the development of international protocols for Equitable and Ethical Engagement. These protocols will provide a pathway to success for all that want to work within Inuit homelands and whose work impacts the Arctic. The protocols will aid in a paradigm shift in how work, decisions, and policies are currently created and carried out. The paradigm shift will lead toward greater equity and recognition of Inuit sovereignty and Self-determination.

Why was your organization interested in participating in Community Webs? 

The Community Webs program was attractive to ICC because it provided the training and the storage to effectively preserve ICC’s digitized & born-digital archival materials. We were pleased to see this offering as a solution for an ongoing desire to archive the prolific organization’s digital materials & products. This work dovetails nicely with ICC Alaska’s efforts to digitize 47 boxes, or around 80 linear feet of material that span 6 decades, including audio, film, photographic media, and paper documents.

ICC Jam – part 2 – Greenland

Cultural programming as part of the 1983 General Assembly. In this clip, view performances from Greenland’s Tuktak Theater and a Greenlandic choir

ICC advocates for Inuit and Inuit way of life, highlighted by ICC’s General Assembly meetings. The ICC receives its mandate from a General Assembly held every four years. The General Assembly is the heart of the organization, providing an opportunity for sharing information, discussing common concerns, debating issues, and strengthening the unity between all Inuit across our homelands. Through the Community Webs project, ICC Alaska has been able to preserve archival video of the ICC General Assemblies going back 30 years using Archive-It and the Internet Archive, as well as all newsletters, press releases, resolutions, social media campaigns, and reports published on its website. These are a significant record of ICC advocacy, but more importantly, Inuit political and cultural heritage.

Moses Wassillie’s Oral History of first ICC General Assembly in 1977, available at: http://oralhistory.library.uaf.edu/88/88-49-114_T01.pdf

Why do you think it is important for public libraries, community archives, and other local and community-based organizations to do this work?

Community-based organizations are uniquely positioned as both a part of and apart from the community. This vantage point allows for the self-reflection and observation needed for web archiving, as well as the relationships within the community to create the space and dialogue needed for community archiving projects. By building more capacity within community-based organizations for web archiving and digital preservation efforts, we can expand the recorded historical narrative and humanities-based inquiries in a multitude of directions, to truly reflect the diversity of our world & time.

Where do you hope to see your web archiving program going?

The core goal of this work is to make ICC documents and its historical narrative more accessible and discoverable within ICC, to ICC’s member organizations, international bodies, and researchers, our aspirations are much bigger. Our hope is that this web archive goes beyond the core goal to inspire, delight, hearten, inform, and add depth to the conversations Inuit are having about cultural identity, relationship to the land, hunting, advocacy, self-determination, and self-governance. 

We are curious about the intangible outcomes: What new work does the archive inspire? How does the archive add depth & historical weight to existing projects, discussions, and advocacy? What stories and knowledge gets re-remembered, or re-investigated after viewing archival materials? What advocacy, ethics, and philosophical works come from Inuit leaders informed by the legacy that the archive shared? Are youth leaders interested in adding to the archive?

Is there anything you would like your organization to contribute back to the broader community of web archiving and/or local history in the form of documentation, workflows, policy drafts or other resources?

We have several aspirations. Firstly, it is the telling of Inuit stories. The archive is another manifestation of that mission – to record and share Inuit voices across time. To increase access to those voices, information, knowledge, and history. The ICC Archival holdings are a historically unique & culturally significant telling of Inuit cultural heritage, history (including political history), educational pedagogy, philosophy, self-determination, values, ethics, environmental stewardship, and Indigenous Knowledge. It is important to create a way for Inuit to discover and interact with this work. Community Webs has offered a new tool in our toolkit.

Secondly, the goal is to move forward conversations about categorization and information management for indigenous communities. What does that look like in best practice? Can we, together with other Inuit archives, improve on existing practices to create a more equitable and ethical engagement with Inuit-produced information, the management of that information, and the discovery and access of that information.

What are you most excited to learn through your participation in Community Webs?

It was exciting to discover that many Inuit and Alaska Native resources that have already been preserved using the Internet Archive. These resources are often affected by insufficient financial support. Being able to have a preserved and accessible copy of these resources is an important step towards creating the bigger picture of the historical record of Inuit advocacy. As part of the Community Webs meetings, it was exciting to hear from other tribal librarians and community archivists across the country & world. Additionally, it was exciting to hear from speakers whose work informs our community archival work at ICC Alaska – such as Chaitra Powell who created (among other amazing things) the “Archive in a Backpack” project.

What impact do you think web archiving could have within your community?

Hopefully this work inspires other organizations to also preserve their digital assets, creating a richer narrative of Inuit political and cultural heritage.

What do you foresee as some of the challenges you may face?

We are eager to preserve our social media channels that have replaced the DRUM newsletter as a vehicle for keeping our community up-to-date on ICC’s work. Ongoing challenges with Facebook and Instagram archiving are preventing us from doing that. Hopefully these issues are resolved in the favor of the communities who created the content and bring their community and connections to these software platforms.

Integrating Web-Based Content into a Vibrant Local History Collection: South Pasadena Public Library and the Community Webs Program

Guest post by: Olivia Radbill, Adult Services/Local History Librarian, South Pasadena Public Library

This post is part of a series written by members of Internet Archive’s Community Webs program. Community Webs advances the capacity for community-focused memory organizations to build web and digital archives documenting local histories and underrepresented voices. For more information, visit communitywebs.archive-it.org/

The South Pasadena Public Library (SPPL) is a single branch library system located in the small city of South Pasadena, California, just fifteen minutes from downtown Los Angeles. SPPL serves a population of approximately 25,000 residents, many of whom are very dedicated to preservation and local history. As the Adult Services/Local History Librarian at SPPL, I regularly interact with local organizations, City staff, City commissioners, and residents in search of the many little-known details of South Pasadena’s history. My role not only entails organizing, processing, and making accessible local history, but also archiving current events that will inevitably be the subject of future research. 

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the SPPL building was first shut down and our physical Local History Collection made inaccessible, Library staff sought to provide means of bringing local history to digital platforms in a consistent and manageable way. Our first means of public outreach was through the creation of digital exhibits using ArcGIS Storymaps, an interactive web-mapping tool used to host narrative multimedia displays. Exhibits in the series include Ray Bradbury: Celebrating 100 Years, South Pasadena Public Library: Twelve Decades and Counting, City of Trees: Our Urban Tree Canopy, Summers in SoPas: Highlights of Summers Past, and COVID-19: Living History Project. To date, this series has garnered thousands of views.

Screenshot of “Summers in SoPas: Highlights of Summers Past” online exhibit.

While this series did quell some of the community desire to interact with the Local History Collection, it did not address the needs of the community in regards to born-digital content. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted certain gaps in our collection. One of the most notable gaps was the lack of any born-digital or web-archived content. Previously, SPPL has relied primarily on physical donations and physical City documentation. However, once these objects became inaccessible to both Library staff and patrons during our initial COVID-19 closure in March 2020, we sought means of preserving documentation that has increasingly moved to exclusively web-based platforms. For example, in April 2020 the City of South Pasadena launched “City Hall Scoop”, an online blog intended to provide quick, reliable news updates to local residents. It became imperative for Library staff to actively seek out and ensure preservation of this kind of content. 

The South Pasadena Public Library homepage on Archive-It.

At the onset of our involvement in the Community Webs program, I strove to ensure that the objective of our internet archiving was specific, consistent, and attainable. After careful consideration, the following categories were determined to be priorities to the SPPL Local History Collection: City Government, Local Newspapers, and Nonprofit Organizations. Based on these categories we have identified many relevant websites, but chose to focus primarily on official websites and social media pages, to add to the Archive-It platform. The Community Webs project has been an invaluable resource for addressing the needs of both the SPPL staff and the community. Online trainings have aided significantly in overcoming learning curves, helped us determine the scope of our archiving project, and have allowed SPPL to create a system in which web-based content is an integral part of our Local History Collection. SPPL, as of March 2022, has archived, either singularly or on a recurring basis, eleven websites. We are hoping to archive 22 new sites by the end of the year, doubling the number we reached last year. 

The Internet Archive’s Community Webs Program Welcomes 60+ New Members from the US, Canada and Internationally

Community Webs, the Internet Archive’s community history web and digital archiving program, is welcoming over 60 new members from across the US, Canada, and internationally. This new cohort is the first expansion of the Community Webs program outside of the United States and we are thrilled to be supporting the development of diverse, community-based web collections on an international scale. 

Community Webs empowers cultural heritage organizations to collaborate with their communities to build web and digital archives of primary sources documenting local history and culture, especially collections inclusive of voices typically underrepresented in traditional memory collections. The program achieves this mission by providing its members with free access to the Archive-It web archiving service, digital preservation and digitization services, and technical support and training in topics such as web archiving, community outreach, and digital preservation. The program also offers resources to support a local history archiving community of practice and to facilitate scholarly research.

New Community Webs member Karen Ng, Archivist at Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), BC, Canada, notes that the program offers a way to capture community-generated online content in a context where many of the Nation’s records are held by other institutions. “The Squamish Nation community is active in creating and documenting language, traditional knowledge, and histories. Now more than ever in the digital age, it is imperative that these stories and histories be captured and stored in accessible ways for future generations.” 

Similarly, for Maryna Chernyavska, Archivist at the Kule Folklore Centre in Edmonton, Canada, the program will allow the Centre to continue building relationships with community members and organizations. “Being able to assist local heritage organizations with web archiving will help us empower these communities to preserve their heritage based on their values and priorities, but also according to professional standards.”

The current expansion of the program was made possible in part by generous funding from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, which supports the growth of Community Webs to new public libraries in the US. Additional funding provided by the Internet Archive allows the program to reach cultural heritage organizations in Canada and beyond. This newest cohort brings the total number of participants in Community Webs to over 150 organizations, a ten-fold increase since the program’s inception in 2017. For a full list of new participants, see below. The program continues to add members – if your institution is interested in joining, please view our open calls for applications and please make your favorite local memory organization aware of the opportunity.

Programming for the new cohort is underway and these members are already diving into the program’s educational resources and familiarizing themselves with the technical aspects of web archiving and digital preservation. We kicked things off recently with introductory Zoom sessions, where participants met one another and shared their organizations’ missions, communities served and goals for membership in the program. Online training modules, developed by staff at the Internet Archive and the Educopia Institute, went live for new members at the beginning of September. And our new cohort joined our existing Community Webs partners at our virtual Partner Meeting on September 22nd. 

We are thrilled to see the program continuing to grow and we look forward to working with our newest cohort. A warm welcome to the following new Community Webs members!

Canada:

  • Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute
  • Age of Sail Museum and Archives
  • Ajax Public Library
  • Blue Mountains Public Library – Craigleith Heritage Depot
  • Canadian Friends Historical Association
  • Charlotte County Archives
  • City of Kawartha Lakes Public Library
  • Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County
  • Confluence Concerts | Toronto Performing Arts Archives
  • Edson and District Historical Society – Galloway Station Museum & Archives
  • Essex-Kent Mennonite Historical Association
  • Ex Libris Association
  • Fishing Lake Métis Settlement Public Library
  • Frog Lake First Nations Library
  • Goulbourn Museum
  • Grimsby Public Library
  • Hamilton Public Library
  • Kule Folklore Centre
  • Maskwacis Cultural College
  • Meaford Museum
  • Milton Public Library
  • Mission Folk Music Festival
  • Nipissing Nation Kendaaswin
  • North Lanark Regional Museum
  • Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre
  • Parkwood National Historic Site
  • Regina Public Library
  • Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) Archives
  • Société historique du Madawaska Inc.
  • St. Clair West Oral History Project
  • Temagami First Nation Public Library
  • The ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives
  • The Historical Society of Ottawa
  • Thunder Bay Museum
  • Tk’emlups te Secwepemc

International:

  • Biblioteca Nacional Aruba
  • Institute of Information Science, Academia Sinica (Taiwan)
  • Mbube Cultural Preservation Foundation (Nigeria)
  • National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) (Republic of Trinidad and Tobago)

United States:

  • Abilene Public Library
  • Ashland City Library
  • Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History
  • Charlotte County Libraries & History
  • Choctaw Cultural Center
  • Cultura Local ABI
  • DC History Center
  • Forsyth County Public Library
  • Fort Worth Public Library
  • Inuit Circumpolar Council – Alaska
  • Menominee Tribal Archives
  • Mineral Point Library Archives
  • Obama Hawaiian Africana Museum
  • Scott County Library System
  • South Sioux City Public Library
  • St. Louis Media History Foundation
  • Tacoma Public Library
  • The History Project
  • The Seattle Public Library
  • Tipp City Public Library
  • University of Hawaiʻi – West Oʻahu
  • Wilmington Public Library District

Congrats to these new partners! We are excited to have you on board.

Community Webs Seeks Applicants from the US, Canada and Around the World

The Internet Archive is seeking applicants for its next cohort of Community Webs! We are thrilled to announce that the program is now open to additional cultural heritage organizations in the US, as well as any public library or local memory organization in Canada and internationally.

Community Webs provides infrastructure and services, training and education, and professional community cultivation for public libraries and cultural heritage organizations to document local history and the lives of their communities. Launched in the US in 2017 with kickoff funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Community Webs began expanding nationally in 2020 with generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Building on the program’s success and continued growth, Internet Archive is now supporting expansion of the program into Canada and to the international community, and is accepting applications for our next cohort kicking off in late-Summer 2021. The deadline for applications is August 2, 2021.

The program offers a unique opportunity for participating organizations to build capacity in digital collecting. Community Webs participants work alongside peer organizations and with their local communities to document the lives of their citizens, marginalized voices, and groups often absent from the historical record. All Community Webs participants receive: 

  • A guaranteed multi-year free subscription to the Archive-It web archiving service, which includes perpetual storage and access provided by the Internet Archive.
  • Access to additional Internet Archive non-profit services, such as digitization and digital preservation, either for free (as funding allows) or at or below actual cost.
  • Training and educational resources related to digital collections, web archiving, digital preservation, and other topics, as well as access to a cohort community pursuing similar work and to networking spaces, events, and knowledge sharing platforms.
  • The option to leverage program partnerships and integrations to include community web archives in other aggregators or access platforms beyond Internet Archive.

The program currently includes over 100 public libraries from across the United States. These organizations have collectively archived over 70 terabytes of web-based community heritage materials. Some highlights include:

Archived web page: Reporte Hispano, April 6, 2021. New Brunswick Free Public Library. Spanish Newspapers collection.
Archived web page: KC Friends of Alvin Ailey, January 10, 2021. Kansas City Public Library, Arts & Culture collection.

The benefits of the program are wide-ranging and impactful for both participants and their communities. As Community Webs member Makiba J. Foster of the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Broward County, Florida stated during a recent Community Webs event, Archiving the Black Diaspora, “Community Webs provided me with the training, they provided me with the cohort support, […] provided me with services, and particularly it helped to develop an expertise for me in terms of creating collections of historically significant web materials documenting our local communities.” The program “allowed me to start a project of recovery and documentation of digitally born content related to the Black experience.” More information about what Foster and other Community Webs members are up to can be found by viewing our recent program announcements.

Find out more about the program and keep up to date by visiting the Community Webs website. Apply online today and spread the word! 

Introducing 50+ New Public Library Members of the Internet Archive’s Community Webs Program

The Internet Archive’s Community Webs Program provides training and education, infrastructure and services, and professional community cultivation for public librarians across the country to document their local history and the lives of their patrons. Following our recent announcement of the program’s national expansion, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we are excited to welcome the first class of 50+ new public libraries to the program. This brings the current number of new and returning Community Webs participants to 90+ libraries from 33 states and 3 US territories. This diverse group of organizations includes multiple state libraries representing their regions, as well as a mix of large metropolitan library systems, small libraries in rural areas, and libraries like the Feleti Barstow Public Library in American Samoa. All will be working to document their communities, with a particular focus on archiving materials from traditionally underrepresented groups.

The new cohort class kicked off with virtual introductory events in mid-March, where participants met one another and shared stories about their communities and their goals for preserving and providing access to local history materials. Member libraries are currently receiving training in topics such as collection development and starting to build digital collections that reflect local diversity, events, and culture.

Program participant Kathleen Pickering, Director of the Belen Public Library and Harvey House Museum in Belen, New Mexico notes that their library “is committed to free and open-source electronic resources for our patrons, especially given the low-income status of many of our residents” and Community Webs will help further that goal. Similarly, new cohort member Aaron Ramirez of Pueblo City-County Library District (PCCLD) found Community Webs to be a great fit for existing institutional goals and initiatives. “PCCLD’s five-year strategic plan directs us to embrace local cultures, to include individuals of all skill levels and physical abilities, and to enrich established partnerships and collaborations. The groups that have not seen themselves in our archives will find through this project PCCLD’s intention and means to listen and go forward as allies and as a resource of support, rather than an institution serving only the affluent.”

Makiba J. Foster

Makiba J. Foster, Manager of The African American Research Library and Cultural Center of Broward County, Florida pointed out that “as content becomes increasingly digital, we need this opportunity to document the digital life and content of our community which includes a diverse representation of the Black Diaspora.”  Makiba was a member of the original Community Webs cohort in a previous position at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at New York Public Library, and recently presented on her work archiving the black diaspora to a group of more than 200 attendees.

The Community Webs Program is continuing to grow towards the milestone of over 150 participating libraries across the United States and will soon announce another call for applicants for a U.S. cohort starting in late summer. The program also is beginning to expand internationally, starting in Canada, exploring the addition of other types of libraries and cultural heritage organizations, and expanding its suite of training and services available to participants. Expect more news on these initiatives soon. 

Welcome to our new cohort of Community Webs libraries! The full list of new members: 

  • Alamogordo Public Library (New Mexico)
  • Amelia Island Museum of History (Florida)
  • ART | library deco (Texas)
  • Asbury Park Public Library (New Jersey)
  • Atlanta History Center (Georgia)
  • Bartholomew County Public Library (Indiana)
  • Bedford Public Library System (Virginia)
  • Belen Public Library and Harvey House Museum (New Mexico)
  • Bensenville Community Public Library (Illinois)
  • Biblioteca Municipal Aurea M. Pérez (Puerto Rico)
  • Carbondale Public Library (Illinois)
  • Cedar Mill & Bethany Community Libraries (Oregon)
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (North Carolina)
  • Chicago Public Library (Illinois)
  • City Archives & Special Collections, New Orleans Public Library (Louisiana)
  • Dayton Metro Library (Ohio)
  • Elba Public Library (Alabama)
  • Essex Library Association (Connecticut)
  • Everett Public Library (Washington)
  • Feleti Barstow Public Library (American Samoa)
  • Forsyth County Public Library (North Carolina)
  • Hartford History Center, Hartford Public Library (Connecticut)
  • Heritage Public Library (Virginia)
  • Huntsville-Madison County Public Library (Alabama)
  • James Blackstone Memorial Library (Connecticut)
  • Jefferson Parish Library (Louisiana)
  • Jefferson-Madison Regional Library (Virginia)
  • Laramie County Library System (Wyoming)
  • Lawrence Public Library (Massachusetts)
  • Los Angeles Public Library (California)
  • Mill Valley Public Library, Lucretia Little History Room (California)
  • Missoula Public Library (Montana)
  • Niagara Falls Public Library (New York)
  • Pueblo City-County Library District (Colorado)
  • Rochester Public Library (New York)
  • Santa Cruz Public Libraries (California)
  • South Pasadena Public Library (California)
  • State Library of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania)
  • Tangipahoa Parish Library (Louisiana)
  • The African American Research Library and Cultural Center (Florida)
  • The Ferguson Library (Connecticut)
  • Three Rivers Public Library District (Illinois)
  • Virginia Beach Public Library (Virginia)
  • Waltham Public Library (Massachusetts)
  • Watsonville Public Library (California)
  • West Virginia Library Commission (West Virginia)
  • William B Harlan Memorial Library (Kentucky)
  • Worcester Public Library (Massachusetts)
  • Your Heritage Matters (North Carolina)

Seeking Public Library Participants for Community History Web Archiving Program

Local history collections are necessary to understanding the life and culture of a community. As methods for sharing  information have shifted towards the web, there are many more avenues for community members to document diverse experiences.  Public libraries play a critical role in building community-oriented archives and these collections  are particularly important in recording the impact of unprecedented events on the lives of local citizens. 

Last week, we announced a major national expansion of our Community Webs program providing infrastructure, services, and training to public librarians to archive local history as documented on the web… We now invite public libraries in the United States and cultural heritage organizations in U.S. territories to apply to join the Community Webs program. Participants in the program receive free web archiving and technical services, education, professional development, and funding to build  community history web archives, especially collections documenting the lives of patrons and communities traditionally under-represented in the historical record.

If you are a public librarian interested in joining the Community Webs program please review the full call for applications and the program FAQs. Online applications are being accepted through Sunday, January 31, 2021

“Whether documenting the indie music scene of the 1990s, researching the history of local abolitionists and formerly enslaved peoples, or helping patrons research the early LGBT movement, I am frequently reminded of what was not saved or is not physically present in our collections. These gaps or silences often reflect subcultures in our community.” – Dylan Gaffney, Forbes Library, in Northampton, MA

The program is seeking public libraries to join a diverse network of 150+ organizations  that are:

  • Documenting local history by saving web-published sites, stories and community engagement on the web.
  • Growing their professional skills and increasing institutional technical capacity by engaging in a supportive network of peer organizations pursuing this work.
  • Building a public understanding of web archiving as a practice and its importance to preserving 21st century community history and underrepresented voices.

Current Community Webs cohort members have created nearly 300 publicly available local history web archive collections on topics ranging from COVID-19, to local arts and culture, to 2020 local and U.S. elections. Collecting the web-published materials of local organizations, movements and individuals is often the primary way to document their presence for future historians.

“During the summer of 2016, Baton Rouge witnessed the shooting of Alton Sterling, the mass shooting of Baton Rouge law enforcement, and the Great Flood of 2016. While watching these events unfold from our smartphones and computers, we at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library realized this information might be in jeopardy of never being acquired and preserved due to a shift in the way information is being created and disseminated.” – Emily Ward, East Baton Rouge Parish Library

Benefits of participation in Community Webs include:

  • A three-year subscription to the Archive-It web archiving service.
  • Funding to support travel to a full-day Community Webs National Symposium (projected for 2021 and in 2022) and other professional development opportunities. 
  • Extensive training and educational resources provided by professional staff.
  • Membership in an active and diverse community of public librarians across the country. 
  • Options to increase access (and discoverability) to program collections via hubs, such as DPLA.
  • Funding to support local outreach, public programming, and community collaborations. 

Please feel free to email us with any questions and be sure to apply by Sunday, January 31, 2021.

Community Webs Program Receives $1,130,000 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award for a National Network of Public Libraries Building Local History Web Archives

More than ever, the lives of communities are documented online. The web remains a vital resource for traditionally under-represented groups to write and share about their lives and experiences. Preserving this web-published material, in turn, allows libraries to build more expansive, inclusive, and community-oriented archival collections.

In 2017, the Internet Archive’s Archive-It service launched the program, “Community Webs: Empowering Public Libraries to Create Community History Web Archives.” The program provides training, professional development, cohort building, and technical services for public librarians to curate community archives of websites, social media, and online material documenting the experiences of their patrons, especially those often underrepresented in traditional physical archives. Since its launch, the program has grown to include 40 public libraries in 21 states that have built almost 300 collections documenting local civic life, especially of marginalized groups, creating an archive totaling over 50 terabytes and tens of millions of individual digital documents, images, audio-video, and more. The program received additional funding in 2019 to continue its work and focus on strategic planning, partnering with the Educopia Institute to ensure the growth and sustainability of the program and the cohort.

We are excited to announce that Community Webs has received $1,130,000 in funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for “Community Webs: A National Network of Public Library Web Archives Documenting Local History & Underrepresented Groups,” an nationwide expansion of the program to include a minimum of 2 public libraries in each of the 50 United States, plus additional local history organizations in U.S territories, for a total of 150-200 participating public libraries and heritage organizations. Participants will receive web archiving and access services, training and education, and funds to promote and pursue their community archiving. The Community Webs National Network will also make the resulting public library local history community web archives available to scholars through specialized access tools and datasets, partner with affiliated national discovery and digital collections platforms such as DPLA, and build partnerships and collaborations with state and regional groups advancing local history digital preservation efforts. We thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support to grow this program nationwide and empower hundreds of public librarians to build archives that elevate the voices, lives, and events of their underrepresented communities and ensure this material is permanently available to patrons, students, scholars, and citizens.

Over the course of the Community Webs program, participating public libraries have created diverse collections on a wide range of topics, often in collaboration with members of their local communities. Examples include:

  • Community Webs members have created collections related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s “Novel Coronavirus COVID-19” collection which focuses on “the African diasporan experiences of COVID-19 including racial disparities in health outcomes and access, the impact on Black-owned businesses, and cultural production.” Athens Regional Library System created a collection of “Athens, Georgia Area COVID-19 Response” which focuses on the social, economic and health impacts of COVID-19 on the local community, with specific attention on community efforts to support frontline workers. A recent American Libraries article featured the COVID archiving work of public libraries.
  • Columbus Metropolitan Library’s archive of “Immigrant Experience”, a collection of websites on the activities, needs, and culture of immigrant communities in Central Ohio.
  • Sonoma County Public Library’s “North Bay Fires, 2017” collection documenting when “devastating firestorms swept through Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino Counties” and part of their “Sonoma Responds: Community Memory Archive.”
  • Birmingham Public Library’s “LGBTQ in Alabama” collection “documenting the history and experiences of the LGBTQ community in Alabama.”
Community Webs public librarians at IA HQ

We look forward to expanding the Community Webs program nationwide in order to enable hundreds of public libraries to continue to build web collections documenting their communities, especially in these historic times.

We expect to put out a Call for Applications in early December for public libraries to join Community Webs. Please pass along this opportunity to your local public library. For more information on the program, check out our website or email us with questions.