Engaging with Web Archives - Conference Report
By Jason Webber, Web Archive Engagement Manager, The British Library
Is it possible to have a successful conference when you can no longer meet in person? Going exclusively online doesn’t seem to have stopped the ‘Engaging with Web Archives’ (EWA) Conference from being a superb experience. Co-Chairs of the event are Sharon Healy and Michael Kurzmeier, PhD students at Maynooth University.
Originally planned as a more traditional, in person, conference in April 2020 the EWA team re-planned for a completely online event on 21and 22 September 2020. It is notable that this was the first web archiving conference in Ireland. Most talks were pre-recorded which meant that questions could be posed in the chat box and were often answered live by the presenter during the talk. This can be a significant advantage of pre-recorded talks.
The programme was packed with high quality presentations from many areas of web archiving but here I’ll highlight a few that were UK Web Archive (UKWA) projects or used UKWA data.
A Keynote talk was delivered by Professor Jane Winters, School of Advanced Study, University of London. Web archives as sites of collaboration. Jane has worked with the UK Web Archive extensively over many years and is one of only a few Professors in the UK training and promoting web archives to students. Jane's talk (link to YouTube).
Sara Day Thomson (University of Edinburgh) Developing a Web Archiving Strategy for the Covid-19 Collecting Initiative at the University of Edinburgh. Sara formerly worked for the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) led a ‘Web Archiving Task Force’ and more recently has been building important collections on Covid-19 with the University of Edinburgh in partnership with UKWA. Sara's talk (link to YouTube).
Dr. Brendan Power (The Library of Trinity College Dublin): Leveraging the UK Web Archive in an Irish context: Challenges and Opportunities. With Trinity College Dublin being a UK Legal Deposit Library we try and work together as much as possible and this talk highlights what is possible with specific mention of the Easter Rising collection. Brendan's talk (link to YouTube).
Robert McNicol (Kenneth Ritchie Wimbledon Library): The UK Web Archive and Wimbledon: A Winning Combination. We try to represent as many aspects of UK life as possible including sport. This also highlights our cooperation with other libraries and archives. See the Tennis collection. Robert's talk (link to YouTube).
Dr. Peter Webster (Independent Scholar, Historian and Consultant): Digital archaeology in the web of links: reconstructing a late-90s web sphere. Peter has conducted several pieces of research utilising the UKWA secondary datasets. These are free and available for download. Peter's talk (link to YouTube).
Helena Byrne (Curator of web Archiving, British Library): From the sidelines to the archived web: What are the most annoying football phrases in the UK? Helena is a curator in the UK Web Archive but also has a keen interest in sport and women’s football in particular. Here, Helena shows how the Trends feature (graphs) in our SHINE service can help guide research in an easy and accessible way. Helena's talk (link to YouTube).
Caio de Castro Mello Santos & Daniela Cotta de Azevedo Major (School of Advanced Study, University of London): Tracking and Analysing Media Events through Web Archives. Caio was a Phd student placement with UKWA as part of the Cleopatra project. Read about some of his work on this blog on Olympic legacy. Caio and Daniella's talk (link to YouTube).
Hannah Connell (King’s College London; British Library): Curating culturally themed collections online: The Russia in the UK Special Collection, UK Web Archive. Hannah has worked extensively collecting one of the several diaspora community collections. In addition to Russia in the UK, there is London French and Latin America UK. Hannah's talk (link to YouTube).
Dr. Jessica Ogden (University of Southampton) & Emily Maemura (University of Toronto): A tale of two web archives: Challenges of engaging web archival infrastructures for research. Jessica has also worked previously with UKWA as a Phd placement on the challenges of researchers using web archives. This vital work helps guide our planning for the future. Jessica and Emily's talk (link to YouTube).
Dr. Olga Holownia (International Internet Preservation Consortium): IIPC: training, research, and outreach activities. Olga works full time for the IIPC but has been based within the UK Web Archive team at the British Library. We have been delighted to have worked with and been supported by the IIPC since it began (The British Library is a founding member).
Rosita Murchan (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland): PRONI Web Archive: A Collaborative Approach. PRONI maintains their own web archive but also collaborates with the UK Web Archive in collecting material specific to Northern Ireland. This is important as there currently is no Legal Deposit partner in Northern Ireland. Rosita’s talk (link to YouTube).
Whilst it is a shame not to meet people in person this conference has shown me how online conferences can be a viable way forward. I’m very much looking forward to the next one.
Look out for more in-depth blog posts from EWA conference speakers over the coming weeks on the UK Web Archive blog.