UK Web Archive blog

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