Until recently, if you wanted to research a historic UK website you may have had to look in a number of different places. There was the 'Open' UK Web Archive that contained the 15,000 or so publicly available websites collected since 2005. If you also wanted to check the vast 'Legal Deposit' web archive (containing the whole UK Web space) then you would need to travel to the reading room of a UK Legal Deposit Library to see if what you needed was there. For the first time, the new UKWA website offers:
- The ability to search the entire collection in one place
- the opportunity to browse over 100 curated collections on a wide range of topics.
Who is the UK Web Archive?
UKWA is a partnership of all the UK Legal Deposit Libraries - The British Library, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales, Bodleian Libraries Oxford, Cambridge University Libraries, Trinity College, Dublin. The Legal Deposit Web Archive is available in the reading rooms of all the Libraries. A readers pass for each library is required to gain access to a reading room.
How much is available now?
At the time of writing, everything that a human (curators and collaborators) has selected since 2005 is searchable. This constitutes many thousands of websites and millions of individual web pages. We will be adding the huge yearly Legal Deposit collections over the coming year - we'll let you know as they become available.
Do the websites look and work as they did originally?
Yes and no. Every effort is made so that websites look how they did originally and internal links should work. However, for a variety of technical issues many websites will look different or some elements may be missing. As a minimum, all of the text in the collection is searchable and most images should be there. Whilst we collect a considerable amount of video, much of this will not play back.
Is every UK website available?
We aim to collect every website made or owned by a UK resident, however, in reality it is extremely difficult to be comprehensive! Our annual Legal Deposit collections include every .uk (and .london, .scot, .wales and .cymru) plus any website on a server located in the UK. Of course, many websites are .com, .info etc. and on servers in other countries.
If you have or know of a UK website that should be in the archive we encourage you to nominate them here.
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By Jason Webber, Web Archive Engagement Manager, The British Library