Tag Archives: community webs

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.

Meet the Librarians: Catherine Falls, Community Webs

To celebrate National Library Week 2022, we are taking readers behind the scenes to Meet the Librarians who work at the Internet Archive and in associated programs.


In the spring of 2021, Catherine Falls was hired by the Internet Archive to launch the Community Webs program in Canada. She was excited about the prospect of helping public libraries, museums, local historical societies and archives digitally preserve important material. 

Catherine Falls

“Most web archiving happens at really large institutions, so much of the experience of local communities is missing from the historic record. It’s giving us a biased view of contemporary society,” Falls said. “The more of these local organizations that we can get to do this archiving, the more the historic record will be brought into balance.”

Since her efforts began, the Internet Archive has partnered with 43 institutions and organizations in Canada to build community-based collections. Falls said it’s been rewarding to follow the growth and variety of web-archiving projects . For example, the Milton Public Library in Ontario is working with the Halton Black History Awareness Society and other organizations to document items that may not otherwise be captured on the web. Meanwhile, the ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives is working with its community members to build web archive collections that capture the community’s web presence.

Falls earned  bachelor’s degrees in commerce and art history from the University of British Columbia. She also has a master’s degree in library science and a master’s degree in art history from the University of Toronto. Before coming to the Internet Archive, she worked as an archivist in Canada at several institutions including York University and the Archives of Ontario.

“I’m interested in the free circulation of ideas and the library as a place where public knowledge is accessible.”

Catherine Falls, Community Webs

“I was drawn to libraries as a kind of place that facilitates research–which for me is the most exciting phase of any project,” Falls said. “I’m interested in the free circulation of ideas and the library as a place where public knowledge is accessible. I like how the intellectual possibilities of a library intersect with the library as a community space.”

Catherine Falls

Falls says her background gives her a solid understanding of the basic functions of the library and the common language used within the profession. With that theoretical grounding, she said she can approach her work from a critical perspective to make improvements. 

“It’s important to keep in mind that libraries are not infallible institutions. We need to be constantly questioning our practice and finding ways to be better,” Falls said. “It’s easy to say libraries are these beautiful, idyllic institutions. But I think it’s healthy to take a critical eye toward the work we do so that we can try to live up to our ideals in terms of whose stories we tell, who has access to our services, and what is preserved for the long term.” 

Falls said she enjoys the mission-driven focus of the Internet Archive. Operating in the library, technology and archival world, it has a dynamic, nimble culture that provides fertile ground in which to explore new ideas, she said. 

Falls’ favorite holdings are among some of the quirkier arts-related web archive collections in the Internet Archive: University of Michigan, School of Information, 20th Century Minimalist Music, Dalhousie University, Artist-Run Centres in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Corning Museum of Glass, Contemporary Glass Podcasts.