UK Web Archive blog

Information from the team at the UK Web Archive, the Library's premier resource of archived UK websites

The UK Web Archive, the Library's premier resource of archived UK websites

3 posts from February 2012

10 February 2012

London Calling! Announcing the London 2012 Special Collection

The 2012 London Olympic & Paralympic Games have already generated a huge presence on the Web. To reflect and record this momentous event, the British Library’s web archiving team are building a special collection of websites: the London 2012 Collection. 

We have been selecting Olympic related websites since 2008, though some of the content in the collection is even older and dates back to 2005 when London was one of the hopeful cities bidding to host the Games. The collection is intended to reflect not only the event itself but all aspects of the Games including their social and economic impact on London and the UK. Websites include those of official bodies such as and the British Olympic Association as well as those of UK athletes, local councils, opinion forums and the Games’ corporate sponsors. 

Alternative or dissenting voices are included to ensure a cohesive collection that represents the full spectrum of contemporary opinion about the Games. For example, several blogs and commentaries reflect concerns over the London Olympic overspend including the 2012 Watchdog from the Taxpayer's Alliance which monitors the costs to the taxpayer of the 2012 Games. Ken Frost's Olympic Blogspot monitors issues such as political developments, Olympics executive’s salaries and environmental concerns.

Other items in the Olympics Collection relate to arts and culture inspired by the Games. For example, the V&A has recently acquired a torch from the 1948 London Olympics, which is thought to have been used on the Belgium leg of its trip across Europe.

Currently, around 250 websites are already available to view in the UK Web Archive’s Olympic Collection. New websites are being added all the time and will continue to be archived until the end of 2012 to record the impact of the Games beyond the main event. Websites have been selected by subject specialists or curators across the British Library as well as members of the public. If you would like to nominate a site for inclusion in the archive we would be very pleased to hear from you. 

Nicola Johnson
Web Archivist, The British Library 


08 February 2012

Blog archiving: a contributor's perspective

The following is a guest post from Jo Stanley, author and blogger. We've been archiving Jo's blog in the UK Web Archive since April 2011.

Jo-stanleyI’m Jo Stanley and I call myself a creative historian and occasionally ‘a lifestory midwife’. People who worked on ships are my special area of historical interest. One of the books that will come out of all my hundreds of hours at the BL is Risk! Women on the Wartime Seas, a history of the women who were at sea in surprising numbers in WW1 and WW2 (Yale University Press). 

A lot of my products are based on the stories people tell me. But I use the British Library for my background research: autobiographies, histories, theoretical interpretations. I’ve been a fan – no other word will do - for about thirty years and remember my excitement when first I registered. My appreciation of the Library’s preserving role increased a hundred-fold when I was given a behind-the-scenes tour at Colindale.

In 2011 when staff from the UK Web Archive at BL emailed the news that my blog was one of those selected to be archived for posterity that really gave me a boost. And it changed my blogging practices. I write more frequently and more carefully, because of a greater sense of its significance. My entries are now made at least twice a month. I spend hours, no longer minutes, writing each entry as vividly and elegantly as I can; I make more effort to explain significances and acronyms. 

Having your blog harvested feels an oddly alienated experience. It’s like being a rose that knows the gardener is plucking it, but never feels the secateurs nor sees itself finally arranged in the vase with all the other blooms. So it really helped when the Head of Web Archiving Helen Hockx-Yu took the time to show me how the process worked. In her office papered with Chinese poems on the Underground I saw the crawler in operation, scuttling round and scooping up other’s blogs and websites like some diligent crab from a William Gibson sci-fi story. Finding out the program’s name, Heritrix, seemed to make the process feel more comprehensible. OK, it’s just another clever piece of software, like Photoshop. Hearing that I was one of the 10,000 websites owners and bloggers helped me see my in/significance within the UK Web Archive; it’s a bit like looking your house via Google Earth. And understanding that my ‘donation’ was collected every six months helped me get a sense that there was someone listening.

Books I’ve written have been in the library for years but having my blog saved there feels extra special. 


07 February 2012

New Collection: Video Games, Gaming Culture and the Impact of games on Society

Crazy about computer games? Then nominate websites for our new video games collection!

An exciting new collection is underway to preserve information about computer games developed and played in the UK. It will include resources that document gaming culture and the impact that video games have had on wider society.

The collection is being developed by digital curation and preservation colleagues from across the Library, with additional input from staff at the National Videogame Archive. The National Videogame Archive is a collection of hardware, original software, design documents, marketing material and fan-generated ephemera housed within the National Media Museum and managed in partnership with Nottingham Trent and Bath Spa Universities. Some of the collection items from the National Video Game Archive are on public display in the Museum’s Games Lounge, which is an interactive gallery featuring vintage console and arcade games.

The collection will include games (e.g. disk images, executables of remakes) and information about games (e.g. maps, walkthroughs, FAQs). If we don’t capture it now and get it in the archive, then much of it is at real risk of being lost forever. We’re also very interested in collecting resources that discuss the cultural and societal impact of computer games, for example research on the impact of games on children’s development.

So how can you help? We are calling all games designers, players and enthusiasts to suggest the websites which you think should be preserved. These may include online games, forums, enthusiast sites, FAQs/walkthroughs, advertising, emulation software, research/education resources etc. We’re interested in all sorts of games and aim to capture a comprehensive view of computer game development and gaming culture in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

If you know of any sites that you think should be included, then please let us know by filling in the nominations form. Mark your entry ‘Videogame collection nomination’ in the justification field, as well as entering any other information that might help us to appraise the site. Thanks!

 Stella Wisdom
Digital Curator, The British Library