Started in 2017, our Community Webs program has over 175 public libraries and local cultural organizations working to build digital archives documenting the experiences of their communities, especially those patrons often underrepresented in traditional archives. Participating public libraries have created over 1,400 collections documenting local civic life totaling nearly 100 terabytes and tens of millions of individual documents, images, audio/video files, blogs, websites, social media, and more. You can browse many of these collections at the Community Webs website. Participants have also collaborated on digitization efforts to bring minority newspapers online, held public programming and outreach events, and formed local partnerships to help preservation efforts at other mission-aligned organizations. The program has conducted numerous workshops and national symposia to help public librarians gain expertise in digital preservation and cohort members have done dozens of presentations at professional conferences showcasing their work. In the past, Community Webs has received support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Mellon Foundation, the Kahle Austin Foundation, and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
We are excited to announce that Community Webs has received $750,000 in funding from The Mellon Foundation to continue expanding the program. The award will allow additional public libraries to join the program and will enable new and existing members to continue their web archiving collection building using our Archive-It service. In addition, the funding will also provide members access to Internet Archive’s new Vault digital preservation service, enabling them to build and preserve collections of any type of digital materials. Lastly, leveraging members’ prior success in local partnerships, Community Webs will now include an “Affiliates” program so member public libraries can nominate local nonprofit partners that can also receive access to archiving services and resources. Funding will also support the continuation of the program’s professional development training in digital preservation and community archiving and its overall cohort and community building activities of workshops, events, and symposia.
We thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of Community Webs. We are excited to continue to expand the program and empower hundreds of public librarians to build archives that document the voices, lives, and events of their communities and to ensure this material is permanently available to patrons, students, scholars, and citizens.