Work Experience at the UK Web Archive
By Emily Mahoney
Upon hearing that I had a work experience placement in the British Library, I immediately thought of books and reading, a main passion of mine from a young age. When I found out about the many other sides to working in such an immense organisation, (the British Library employs just over 1,500 people) I realised it would be far more fascinating than I had imagined.
I was assigned a position in Web Archiving with Helena Byrne for the week. Coming into a week of work experience in Web Archiving seemed overwhelming to me as someone with no previous experience in the topic, however, the team working in the department made me feel reassured immediately. Instead of being nervous, I could then focus on the multitude of interesting new information coming my way.
My first task was to identify images for the covers of the newer Special Collections on the UK Web Archive website. I was then informed that I would be working on a project with Leila Nassereldein, a PhD placement student focused on archiving a collection of online zines that are independent, self-published, and authored by Asian, African or Caribbean people in the UK. This was extremely exciting to me as this is an area most people don’t necessarily think of when considering the British Library and Leila was keen on making a space for these zines through which the smaller, independent and sometimes radical publications could also leave their mark in our web history. While working on this project with Leila I learnt to appraise, curate and archive contemporary websites using the Annotation Curation Tool (W3 ACT) tool.
Before this week I had never come across the UK Web Archive and this experience has made me aware of just how important it is that we have access to this information in years to come. The online public archive is also an area with a large number of research points that I will definitely be using during any further study. When writing this I was asked what the ‘most interesting’ part of my placement was, however, it would be too hard to choose due to the amount of things that I have learnt during this week that I had never encountered before. Overall, my experience at the British Library was an enriching one that I will never forget, and helped me consider an aspect of our online life that had never occurred to me before.