THE BRITISH LIBRARY

UK Web Archive blog

10 posts from November 2020

25 November 2020

LGBTQ+ Lives Online Web Archive Collection

By Steven Dryden, British Library LGBTQ+ Staff Network & Ash Green CILIP LGBTQ+ Network

As you’ll have read on this blog, the collaboration with UK Web Archive (UKWA), British Library and CILIP LGBTQ+ Network to develop LGBTQ+ content within the UK Web Archive was launched during summer 2020.

Rainbow tapestry

LGBTQ+ content was already part of the UK Web Archive before the collaboration began, with many sites in other collections overlapping LGBTQ+ themes. For example, Black and Asian Britain (blackgayblog.com), Gender Equality (Beyond the Binary), Sport (Graces Cricket Club). And some sites cut across many collections, highlighting the intersectional nature of the UK Web Archive. For example, Gal-Dem features in the News Sites; Zines and Fanzines; Black and Asian Britain; Gender Equality; Women's Issues; Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights collections, as well as LGBTQ+ Lives Online. LGBTQ+ Lives Online, much like the lived experience of the LGBTQ+ does not sit in isolation, disconnected from other aspects of UK offline and online life. LGBTQ+ people play a part in all aspects of the UK community, and are not solely defined by their gender or sexual orientation.

This UK Web Archive collection doesn’t stand in isolation either, it enriches the scope of work already begun at The British Library.LGBTQ Histories aims to explore the experiences and stories encountered in the collections, posing questions about the lived experience of LGBTQ+ people throughout history.The LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection of the UK Web Archive plays a part in CILIP LGBTQ+ Network’s ambition to raise the profile of LGBTQ+ people, support the development of LGBTQ+ information resources and the work of LGBTQ+ Library, information and knowledge workers.

LGBTQ+ Lives Online Collection

UKWA 'ACT' tool

The collection currently contains over 400 sites and web pages in the main collection, with more of these being added to sub-collections every week. Many of the sites were already in the UKWA before the collaboration began, but were not linked to sub-collections. We are still at the stage where we are developing the structure of sub-collections but our initial indexes cover:

Since the launch of this collaborative project, we have been focused on a number of areas to both develop the project and to preserve sites within the collection. This includes:

  • Identifying sites already in the UK Web Archive to be added to the LGBTQ+ Lives Online sub-collections.
  • Identifying new sites not already in the UKWA to be included in the collection.
  • Spreading the word about the project as widely as possible via blog posts and articles such as this; social media; emails targeting specific LGBTQ+, library, and broader diversity organisations and networks.

You can browse through the collection here, and nominate a UK published site or webpage with a focus on LGBTQ+ lives to be included in the collection via: https://www.webarchive.org.uk/en/ukwa/info/nominate. We would especially like to see more nominations that reflect the multicultural nature of UK LGBTQ+ communities and the many diaspora communities based here, including UK sites written in languages other than English.

Though it can often be challenging for us to archive social media accounts, we are able to collect LGBTQ+ Twitter accounts. We have experimented with other methods of archiving social media but this is on a selective basis, but we would welcome nominations and projects that might address these challenges and how they might impact on archiving LGBTQ+ experience in the UK,

How can you access these archived websites?

UKWA search results page

Under the Non-Print Legal Deposit Regulations 2013, the UKWA  can archive UK published websites, but are only able to make the archived version available to people outside the Legal Deposit Libraries Reading Rooms, if the website owner has given permission. The UK Legal Deposit Libraries are the British Library, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales, Bodleian Libraries, Cambridge University Library and Trinity College Dublin Library.  

Some of the websites in UKWA have already had permission granted, these include Out Stories Bristol, Trans Ageing and Care, Bi Cymru/Wales and Queer Zine Library. As the content of UKWA has mixed access, the message ‘Viewable only on Library premises’ will appear under the title of the website if you need to visit a Legal Deposit Library to view content. If there is no message underneath then the archived version of the website should be available on your personal device.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the reading rooms were closed for a number of weeks but are starting to reopen. This blog post gives an overview of opening hours and how to book a visit at the six UK Legal Deposit Libraries:

https://blogs.bl.uk/webarchive/2020/09/ukwa-available-in-reading-rooms-again.html 

Previous blog posts about the project can be viewed via the following links.

LGBTQ+ Lives Online project introduction

LGBTQ+ Lives Online: Introducing the Lead Curators

 

24 November 2020

Web Archive Team wins 2020 Digital Preservation Award

By Sophia Chrisafis, Internal Communications Officer, The British Library

On Thursday 5 November the UK Web Archive Team won The National Archives (UK) Award for Safeguarding the Digital Legacy at the Digital Preservation Awards 2020.

The Award was made to the UK Web Archive for ‘15 years of the UK Web Archive’, marking the anniversary of the launch of a public UK Web Archive service.

In all, there are six awards, which are presented every two years. 

Digital Preservation Award 2020

2020 Awards
This year the awards took place online, via Zoom. John Sheridan, Digital Director at The National Archives, introduced the award: 

The National Archives (UK) Award for Safeguarding the Digital Legacy celebrates the practical application of preservation skills to protect at-risk digital objects, drawing attention to the concrete efforts to ensure important elements of our generation’s digital memory can remain available for future generations. It is also for demonstrating a deep understanding of the risks that digital objects face and (the winner) should be an exemplar of digital preservation best practice and why preservation matters.

The winners were announced by judge April Miller, from the World Bank Group, who invited Ian Cooke, the British Library’s Head of Contemporary British Published Collections, to give an acceptance speech.

On behalf of Web Archiving Team Ian said:

‘We’re really amazingly pleased to have won.

‘It’s a huge honour for us to be recognised in this way, and to have been among such excellent finalists, such amazing projects, really inspiring ones.

‘We always say it’s not possible to understand the 21st century without the archived web, and we’ve been posting to our blog all week about the diversity and variety of our collections.

‘I’m personally always amazed and incredibly proud of the work Andy Jackson and Nicola Bingham lead for the Web Archive, and also for our whole team, both at the British Library and across the UK legal deposit libraries, and the friends we work with – the International Internet Preservation Consortium, an incredible community – and everyone we’ve worked with around the world for the past 15 years for digital preservation access and development.

Thank you so much.’

The UK Web Archive

The UK Web Archive (UKWA) was formed in 2003 as a response to growing awareness of an urgent digital preservation need, to collect and preserve communication using the web.

UKWA is a partnership of the six UK Legal Deposit Libraries: National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, Cambridge University Libraries, Trinity College, Dublin and the British Library. In 2020, UKWA celebrated 15 years since making its first collections available publicly online.

Read more about the last 15 years of UKWA in these blog posts:

 

18 November 2020

2020 Domain Crawl Update

By Andy Jackson, Web Archiving Technical Lead at the British Library

 

On the 10th of September the 2020 Domain Crawl got underway. The annual Domain Crawl usually takes about three months to complete, it visits UK published websites on a UK Top Level Domain (TLD) like .uk, .cymru, .scot, .london etc., any web content hosted on a server registered in the UK as well as all the records manually created by the UK Web Archive teams across the UK Legal Deposit Libraries

 

Update on crawl management

Due to the billions of URLs involved, the Domain Crawl is the most technically difficult crawl we run. As the crawl frontier grows and grows, the strain starts to show, particularly on the disk space required to store all of the status information about the URLs that have been crawled or are awaiting crawling. Worst of all, we found some mysterious problems with how Heritrix3 manages this information, meant that we could not safely stop and restart long crawls. We could usually restart once, but if we restarted again strange errors would appear, and sometimes these would be serious enough to cause the whole crawl to fail. Fortunately, in the last year, we finally tracked this down and updated the Heritrix3 crawler so that it can be safely stopped and restarted multiple times. 

This has made managing the crawler much easier, as we can stop and restart the crawl with confidence if we need to change the software or hardware setup. This makes managing things like disk space much less stressful.

 

Update on the crawl performance 

In the initial phase of the crawl, we threw in the roughly 11 million web hostnames that we have seen in past crawls, which then got whittled down to about 7 million active hosts. After this bumpy start and some system tuning, the crawl settled down and has been pretty consistently processing 250-300 URLs per second.  This is acceptable, but isn’t quite as fast as we would like, so we are analysing the crawl while it runs to try and work out where the bottlenecks are.

 

What we have collected so far

The figure below shows the URLs collected over time.

 

Graph illustrating the number of URLs downloaded in the 2020 Domain Crawl
Graph illustrating the number of URLs downloaded in the 2020 Domain Crawl

 

The rather jagged start shows where we were able to stop and start the crawl in order to tune the initial hardware setup, and the flatter ‘pauses’ later on are from other maintenance activities like growing the available disk space. The advantage of being able to re-tune the crawler as we go is shown by the way the line gets steeper over time, corresponding to the increased crawl rate.

 

In terms of bytes downloaded, we see a similar result:

Graph illustrating the number of TBs downloaded in the 2020 Domain Crawl
Graph illustrating the number of TBs downloaded in the 2020 Domain Crawl

 

As you can see, we are rapidly approaching 90TB of downloaded data, which corresponds to roughly 50TB of compressed WARC.gz data.

Despite starting the crawl relatively late in the year (due to issues around the COVID-19 outbreak), we are making good and stable progress and are on track to download over two billion URLs by the end of the year.

 

Follow the UK Web Archive on Twitter for the latest updates on the Domain Crawl and other web archiving activities! 

 

11 November 2020

How Remembrance Day has Changed

By Liam Markey, PhD Student, University of Liverpool and the British Library

This blog examines how attitudes to Remembrance (or Armistice) day have changed and evolved over the course of the 20th century and beyond. Read the previous blog on 'Militarism and its role in the commemoration of British war dead' for background on the wider research project.

100 Years
2020 marks 100 years since the erection of a permanent Cenotaph at Whitehall and the interment of the Unknown Warrior in his tomb at Westminster. Along with the 2-minute silence, which was first observed in 1919, and the adoption of the poppy as the symbol of British commemoration in 1921, these practices have been ever present over the past century; they have become intrinsic components of the British collective identity in what is, arguably, a relatively short period of time.

Alleviating suffering and grief
Initially, this commemoration of the dead of the First World War performed two distinct purposes: firstly, practices served to alleviate the suffering of those who had lost loved ones. The bodies of the fallen were not repatriated, so the erection of monuments extolling the sacrifices of the war dead served as focal points of grief and mourning in local communities. Secondly, Remembrancetide (the time of year in which British rituals of commemoration are enacted) was initially a period in which support for disabled ex-servicemen, and those left widowed or orphaned by the First World War, was to be generated. Through the sale of poppies or direct donations, the British public was able to provide financial support for those in need. Collective mourning, such as at the Cenotaph where the monarchy and politicians gathered, was a demonstration of unity and a national thanksgiving to the war dead.

Attitudes to commemoration are not static
Whilst commemorative practices have remained practically unchanged over the past 100 years (only the day on which they are observed has been altered, and for the duration of the Second World War national services were suspended), the same cannot be said for the historical context in which they have been enacted, nor for the thoughts and ideals of those who enact them.

Newspaper Analysis
Analysing the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror newspapers, I have been able to create a small “pseudo” historiography of British attitudes towards commemoration throughout the 20th Century. The text samples from the two newspapers that I have examined range from the 7th -14th November at ten-year intervals starting in 1928 and contain at least one mention of the terms “Armistice” or “Remembrance.” The choice to search within this temporal parameter and for these specific terms was a conscious decision made so as to ensure that texts relating to both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday were collected and available for analysis. The intervals between samples was a deliberate choice so that each text is taken from a year in which a tenth anniversary of the First World War took place and, in theory, when coverage of the war in the media would be at a heightened state.

1928
The first text sample is taken from 1928, the ten-year anniversary of the signing of the Armistice in 1918 and provides the largest number of texts from any year. This is in most part due to the fact that the First World War was a relatively recent event at this point in time. The main emphasis of these texts is on how the British public can aid those left disabled by their experience of the First World War, either through donations to the British Legion’s poppy appeal or by direct purchasing goods made by ex-servicemen. The issue of ‘lasting peace’ is also brought up several times, with many believing that ten years having passed without another World War proves that the cause so many British soldiers died fighting for was not in vain. At this point in time, when commemoration was in many ways an expression of a commitment to peace, the majority of the British public seemed convinced that it was fulfilling its purpose.

1938
However, by 1938 the mood had shifted considerably. With another conflict looming there is less conviction in proclamations of the First World War having achieved this lasting peace. There is an increase in articles discussing the possibility of another war in the near future and the failings of the last 20 years in maintaining peace. There is a palpable anxiety present in the coverage of both the Mail and Mirror as British society faces the stark realisation that the lasting peace so many died for between 1914-18 is on the verge of dissolution.

1948
By 1948 this anxiety had yet to subside, and despite another recent victory over Germany and her allies there is little celebration or indication that the Second World War had done a better job in achieving peace than the First had done as too little time had yet passed. This sample provides a much shorter number of texts concerned with commemoration, and I am drawn to Jay Winter’s assertion that societies following the Second World War struggled to make sense of the carnage they had experienced as an explanation as to why this was the case:

The limits of language had been reached; perhaps there was no way adequately to express the hideousness and scale of the cruelties of the 1939-1945 war. (Winter, 1995, p.9)

In the wake of the First World War, commemorative practices were conceived so as to soothe the suffering of the bereaved and to attach value and meaning to the sacrifice of the war dead. The aftermath of the Second World War resulted in a disillusionment with this previous tradition as commemoration hinged on the maintenance of peace. Now it was clear that the ‘peace’ so many died to attain was a fiction, and perhaps the lack of coverage in this text sample is demonstrative of a contextual detachment felt in British society towards the commemoration of war. The overarching theme displayed by this text sample is that of a society disillusioned with the concept of war commemoration, yet perceived slights to tradition, such as “gigglers” at Whitehall, are still harshly condemned. Despite there being no overt celebration of the war dead, or victory in the two World Wars present in either paper, it is clear that the bare minimum of traditional commemorative practices were to still be respected and observed.

1958
The texts from 1958 greatly resemble those of 1928, where it was believed that a sufficient period of time had passed since the ending of the First World War and thus it was acceptable to again assert that lasting peace had been achieved. There are a few texts that discuss this idea of lasting peace, specifically one in the Daily Mail titled What a Difference 27 Years Make, which argues that the contrast between the present and 1931, both being 13 years removed from a World War, proves that society is on the right track to avoiding another global conflict.

Another important focus of texts from this period is the issue of the “200,000,” the last remaining veterans of the First World War, and what is perceived to be a lack of financial support from the government as they enter the later stages of their lives. After 1948, where overt reference to ex-servicemen in the texts was absent, this year’s sample brings them back to the fore, reminiscent once more of 1928’s sample. The difference here, however, is that the ex-servicemen mentioned in the texts collected prior to the Second World War focused on those who had been left disabled by their experiences of the First World War. In 1958, media coverage encompasses all ex-servicemen from the First World War due to their age – now that 40 years have passed since the Armistice, the advanced age of veterans now means they are all regarded as vulnerable and in need of assistance from the public, be they disabled as a result of the war or not.

1968 and 1978
Both 1968 and 1978 samples offer an insight to changing attitudes to the First World War in British society. The British mythology of the conflict that is firmly planted in modern popular imagination has its roots in the 1960s and 70s where a number of influential pieces of media were produced that transformed attitudes to the First World War.

Evident in both text samples is the widening divide between older and younger generations and their attitudes towards the commemoration of war, and wider ideas regarding the relevance of traditional commemorative rituals considering how much time had passed since the Armistice. Both newspapers wrestle with the idea that commemorative practices have become outdated and appeal only to a small minority of the population with personal connections to the First World War, with it being described as “too sentimental” to some. Despite these growing objections, large crowds are still in attendance at remembrance services, many of whom, as the Daily Mirror points out, are young people. These decades depict the future of commemorative tradition as being somewhat in doubt; with the Second World War receding into history, and the First even more so, there is a real feeling in the texts that the commemorative traditions conceived in the wake of the Armistice had started to become outdated.

1988 & 1998
By the late 1980s British interest in commemoration seems to have been reinvigorated, perhaps in no small part due to the Falklands Conflict of 1982, with both the 1988 and 1998 texts bearing a more nationalistic tone than previous samples. With memory of the First World War having all but passed from living memory, emphasis in the texts shifts from the personal stories of those who were directly affected by the conflict towards a more abstract concept of commemoration as an almost celebration of Britishness. Both newspapers in 1988 contain adverts from the British Legion that describe the observance of traditional commemorative practices as a “National Debt,” and especially in the Daily Mail there is a vast increase in articles containing inflammatory and accusatory language directed at those who are not 100% committed to participation. Whilst in 1998, the question of whether today’s youth are willing to die for their nation is repeated numerous times throughout Remembrancetide in the Daily Mail. 

21st Century
Leading into the 21st Century there is a sense that the initial meaning behind commemoration, which sought to provide support for those mourning the deaths of loved ones, has become outdated now that lived experience of the First World War has passed from the British population. There is a real danger that the language and symbols that vindicated the sacrifice of the war-dead in the wake of the conflict are more likely to inspire militaristic notions in the present day.

Poppies in a field

Summary
While brief, I hope this piece has demonstrated to some degree the fluid nature of British attitudes to commemoration in the 20th Century, and how these attitudes are somewhat representative of wider historical and social change. As my research moves forward it will be most interesting to see the relationship between ‘micro’ discourses and those disseminated by the British media.

Resources such as the UK Web Archive will prove invaluable in exploring these ‘bottom up’ approaches to commemoration, asking how language and symbols popularised in the wake of the First World War, such as the Remembrance Poppy, are reproduced within amateur online remembrance projects and how this usage potentially relates to issues such as nationalism and militarism. Often, mainstream representations of Remembrance focus on the unifying nature of commemoration, and it will be interesting to see whether analysis of materials produced by the average British citizen challenges or confirms this narrative.

UKWA First World War centenary collection - 900+ archived websites (or pages).

09 November 2020

A tale of two web archives: challenges of engaging web archival infrastructures for research

By Jessica Ogden, University of Bristol and Emily Maemura, University of Toronto

Web archives are quickly becoming a key source for studying the historical Web, with many recent projects and publications demonstrating the scholarly opportunities presented by national web archives, in particular. At the same time, research in and on national web archives presents a number of challenges for scholars - where a ‘sociotechnical gap’ (Ackerman 2000) can be observed between the needs of researchers and the affordances of web archives themselves.

Diagram illustrating a web archive conceptual framework

In an effort to better understand the barriers to web archival use in research, our recent paper at the Engaging with Web Archives conference shares the results of a collaborative project which compares and contrasts our experiences of using two national web archives: the UK Web Archive and the Netarchive in Denmark. In 2018, Jessica undertook a three-month research placement with the British Library looking at the challenges and opportunities of using the UKWA for social science research. Around the same time, Emily also spent three months at the Danish National Web Archive, Netarchive, in collaboration with the Royal Library and the University of Aarhus in Denmark. 

Based on our own interactions with these web archives, and interviews with staff and curators, alongside observations of web archiving activities, this paper proposes a conceptual framework that outlines the earliest stages of research alignment and engagement with national web archives. The concepts developed in the paper (orientating, auditing and constructing) provide an avenue for discussing the entanglement of researchers, curators and collections in the research process. In discussion, we make a number of observations regarding the challenges of this form of digital research - including how researchers must unpick the complex constraints of different web archives - and suggest possible ways that existing curatorial infrastructure (tools, people and curatorial knowledge and expertise) could be leveraged to better facilitate researcher engagement in future.  

To learn more about our findings, check out the recording of our EWA 2020 presentation.

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Canada Graduate Scholarship 767-2015-2217 and Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement. Additional funding was provided by a UKRI/Economic and Social Research Council, National Centre for Research Methods placement fellowship and research funds by the University of Southampton. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the generosity and support provided by staff and researchers at the UKWA, the British Library, the Royal Library and the NetLab at Aarhus University.

06 November 2020

The UK Web Archive website over time - 15 Years of UKWA

By Jason Webber, Web Archive Engagement Manager, The British Library

2020 marks 15 years of the UK Web Archive collecting websites. Like almost all websites, ours has been through a number of changes in that time. Web archives provide an important way to look at organisational, or personal, change over time. Let’s see how things have developed for us and how this reflects the change and progress in our work.

UK Web Archive Consortium - 2004
When we started the web archiving project we did so as a group of institutions looking to capture at least some of the UK web for future historians and other researchers. At this time, due to the lack of a legislative framework, the UKWA contacted website publishers in advance, to gain their consent for archiving. At the same time, we requested public access to the archival copies of the websites via the UK Web Archive. See the archived version of this website.

UKWAC-website-2005

UK Web Archive - 2008
The collection by this time had evolved in several ways. Some of the original consortium members, such as The UK National Archives (UK Government Web Archive), started their own web archive collections. 

Another striking (and rare for web archives) element at this time was the introduction of a ‘full text search’. Users could, for the first time, search any word or phrase on any website available through this portal. See the archived version of this website.

UKWA website 2008

UK Web Archive - 2010
The website itself, like the archive, grew and evolved as the collection went from hundreds of websites to thousands. The number of individual curated collections (known then as ‘special collections’) also grew. Also, some exciting new features and projects were introduced, such as - Memento (a facility for seeing which other web archives hold a given web page), ngram search, Tag clouds, 3D walls and others. See the archived version of this website.

UKWA website 2010

UK Web Archive - 2018
In 2013 the scope of the UK Web Archive changed dramatically with the introduction of Non-Print Legal Deposit Regulations that allow for the collection of all UK digitally published material. The archive went from collecting thousands of websites to millions each year. These new ‘Legal Deposit’ archives, however, could only be viewed in the reading rooms of the six UK Legal Deposit Libraries through library terminals.

One impact of this is that from 2013 until the re-launch of this website in 2018 users might have to look at both a Library catalogue AND www.webarchive.org.uk to see everything available.

This new iteration of the website offered, for the first time, a way to discover everything available in the web archive collection. See the archived version of this website.

UKWA website 2018

What is your own website history?
Are you able to tell your own personal or organisational website history? What is the earliest version of your website that is in a web archive and what might be missing? Use Mementoweb to look across a range of web archives (including UKWA). Tell us what you find on Twitter.

People don't always immediately see the longterm value in keeping the things that they create. Sometimes it is only years later that the worth is felt. Websites are the public representation of ourselves (or of an organisation) and the fact that this changes over time deserves the opportunity to be documented.

If you have a UK website, please nominate it for inclusion in the UK Web Archive here: www.webarchive.org.uk/nominate

05 November 2020

On World Digital Preservation Day, the UK Web Archive and the ‘Children of Lockdown’ capture the moment for future generations

By Charlotte McMillan, Founder, Storychest

Introduction from Nicola Bingham, Lead Curator, Web Archiving, British Library

Today is World Digital Preservation Day (WDPD), a celebration of all things digital preservation which is organised by the Digital Preservation Coalition and held annually on the first Thursday of November.

To mark today’s WDPD, the UK Web Archive is highlighting the ‘Children of Lockdown’ project, a recent addition to the Archive which exemplifies the diversity of voices captured in the Archive and highlights the importance of preserving our digital legacy.

Charlotte McMillan, founder of Storychest and curator of the ‘Children of Lockdown’ project writes:

“Lockdown has been like a question mark in the middle of a sentence. Unexpected, confusing and stressful”, observes Yilu, 14, from London, in one of 200 thoughtful and powerful responses to lockdown and Covid19 from children aged 3 to 17, spanning the whole of United Kingdom and from as far afield as Australia.

In July this year, children were asked to contribute to a ‘digital time capsule’ to be included by the British Library in the UK Web Archive’s Covid19 collection. The resulting group of stories, poems and artwork, is insightful and poignant, and whilst it reflects anxiety and, in some cases, profound sadness, it is also imbued with humour, imagination and enduring hope. Disruption to education, distancing from friends and family and uncertainty about the future, are themes which have been captured through the lenses and with the clarity of the voices of the children themselves, a generation whose lives have been affected by the pandemic in so many ways.

The ‘Children of Lockdown’ collection was initiated by Charlotte McMillan, mother of 3 boys and founder of Storychest, the private digital memory box app. Witnessing the impact of the upheaval of lockdown restrictions, she encouraged her own children to record their impressions of this unprecedented period of time.

Charlotte studied history at university and remembers the amazement she felt at exploring on microfiche newspaper articles stored by the British Library from a century ago to help her to understand how events were perceived contemporaneously. She wanted to enable today’s children to record their thoughts and impressions in a lasting way, to help future generations to understand what they were going through. So, Charlotte, together with a group of 5 British children’s authors put the word out to schools and other groups for children’s submissions.

The children have captured enduring and iconic snapshots like the ‘clap for carers’, PE with Joe Wicks, the run on loo paper, empty streets and the emergence of nature, including goats taking over Llandudno.

Maddy mask

Maddy, 15, from London drew herself in monochrome, with the now all too familiar accessory of a mask, eyes peering knowingly at the viewer.

Tiggy

Tiggy, 10, from Kent felt trapped and isolated away from her friends, so drew herself behind prison bars in her own home, but added hope to her work by overlaying a rainbow in pastels.

Sholto

Charlotte’s son Sholto, 14, pictured himself caught inside his phone, referencing the use of devices in lockdown as both a window to the outside world and a trap.

There are stories of imagination and escapism: Flora, 10, from Wallingford likened the virus to a wandering wolf ‘pacing the fence line’ outside her home; Joseph, 8, from Nottingham, missing playing football, invented games using Lego, “Harry Potter, racing through on his broomstick to smash it in the goal. Godzilla in goal, nobody could beat him”.

Incredibly brave Emma, 11, from Derbyshire, was being treated for a brain tumour during lockdown. She reflected on happy moments sat on a best friend’s drive for a chat and also describes sadness that her mum was not able to be with her, due to the restrictions, when she rang the hospital bell to mark the end of her treatment.

Siomha, 11, from London grieves for the death of a beloved great uncle, who had been known as the ‘baby whisperer’ for his calming effect on her as a baby: “Where is my baby whisperer? This time he cannot stop the tears, because this time I weep for him.”

Maddy mural

And yet, through it all, there is hope. Maddy, 15, from Exeter, creates a lockdown mural in her bedroom to show hope for her family and friends. Saanvi, 11, from Leamington Spa, remembering Dumbledore’s words “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light”, reflects that “mankind will get through any crisis and discover positivity even where it seems impossible to find”.

Kenzi, 12, from Chesterfield who is autistic and found lockdown to be a particularly anxious time, sums it up beautifully, in his poem ‘Life in Lockdown’:

When normality returns

2020 will be remembered

In our broken battered hearts

As the time the world finally united

By staying apart

The Children of Lockdown collection can be viewed in full at https://childrenoflockdown.storychest.com/

The UK Web Archive Coronavirus Collection can be viewed here: https://www.webarchive.org.uk/en/ukwa/collection/2975

04 November 2020

Curating culturally themed collections online: The Russia in the UK Collection, UK Web Archive

By Hannah Connell, Collaborative PhD Student, King’s College London; British Library

Title slide from Hannah's presentation with a London Underground map in Russian

 

I spoke about my position as a curator for the Russia in the UK curated collection as part of the recent Engaging with Web Archives conference (EWA), which was held online from the 21st-22nd of September 2020. This conference reflected the breadth of the web archiving community, bringing together speakers from researchers to librarians, as well as curators and web archiving teams from many different countries.

As always, it was inspiring to participate in such a welcoming event. Even online, the conference retained the collaborative atmosphere which has marked my experience of research in web archiving, allowing new researchers to interact with more experienced practitioners and encouraging questions and conversations between researchers, users and archivists.

The researcher-curated collection, Russia in the UK, is part of the UK Web Archive (UKWA). I was particularly pleased to have had the opportunity to present this curated collection, a resource on the Russian-speaking community in the UK, which was first started in November 2017. Such collections play an important role in making the wide range of material preserved in the UKWA more visible to researchers.

Curators are important to the preservation work of the UKWA. Curated collections are collected manually by curators and researchers with specialist knowledge in their field. The role of a curator in creating a UKWA collection involves identifying relevant websites to be included in a collection, and recording the metadata for these websites, including the translation and transliteration of titles and descriptions in other languages.

This collection is valuable both as a resource for further research, and as a means of questioning research practices. It is not possible to capture everything on the web, and collection curators ensure that a representative sample of websites for each thematic collection are selected. The practice of creating and maintaining a collection such as the Russia in the UK  ultimately influences the shape of the collection and the online representation of the diasporic community it will come to reflect. As such, it is important for researchers and users to understand the decisions taken by curators in selecting and capturing websites.

My paper for EWA focused on the creation of a curation guide for curators of new curated collections. This  draws on the ongoing process of curating the Russia in the UK collection, documenting both the provenance of this special collection and reflecting on this process as a model for future collections.  

In documenting the creation of this collection, I hope to enable future researchers to explore and contribute to this record of the online activity of the Russian diaspora in the UK, and to question and develop the curatorial and research practices behind the curation of collections.

You can watch Hannah Connell’s presentation on the EWA YouTube channel.