IIPC Web Archiving Conference 2023 Report from the UK Web Archive
By Nicola Bingham, Helena Byrne, Ian Cooke, Carlos Lelkes-Rarugal, Andrew Jackson, Richard Price British Library, Leontien Talboom Cambridge University Library, Mark Simon Haydn National Library of Scotland.
The IIPC 2023 Web Archiving Conference was hosted by the Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision in Hilversum and co-organised by KB, National Library of the Netherlands. There was an online session held on May 3rd and the main in-person event took place on May 11th and 12th. There was a packed programme that included Q&A sessions for pre-recorded presentations for the online day and presentations, workshops, lighting talks as well as posters for the in-person event. This was the first in-person IIPC conference since 2019 when the event was hosted by the National and University Library in Zagreb (NSK), Croatia.
Many UK Web Archive colleagues from Bodleian Libraries, the British Library, Cambridge University Library and National Library of Scotland attended the conference both as delegates and presenters. In this blog post they have reported back on their conference experience.
Nicola Bingham, Lead Curator of Web Archiving
Attending the IIPC conference in person for the first time since 2019 was a great experience. The combination of reconnecting with colleagues after four long years and the (literally) colourful ambience of the Beeld & Geluid (Institute for Sound & Vision), created an atmosphere brimming with renewed energy and optimism. I will highlight just a few of the presentations and conversations that were interesting from my point of view.
I enjoyed hearing about the De Digitale Stad Herleeft (the Digital City Revived) from Marleen Stikker, founder and ‘mayor’ of DDS, Marieke Brugman of UNESCO and Tjarda de Haan, Bits and Bytes United. Presentations focused on the "webarchaeological excavations” which took place to reconstruct, preserve, store and make accessible this unique digital heritage based on KB’s XS4ALL web collection - which was listed as UNESCO Memory of the World Heritage for the Dutch list and is now under review for the worldwide list.
I enjoyed insights into diversity and co-curation from Jesper Verheof, a Researcher-in-Residence at KB working on "Mapping the Dutch LGBT+ Web Archive". Jesper's work utilises KB's collections to explore the unique web sphere formed by LGBTQ+ - or queer people - and how this evolved over time. It sparked intriguing insights and perspectives which could be applied to our own LGBTQ+ collection.
Collaboration and innovation in web archiving were recurring themes at the conference. Valuable insights were shared by the team from the Library of Congress, emphasising their investment in and education of curators to effectively participate in the web archiving process.
Finally, I had the privilege of presenting the research by WG2 of the WARCnet project, ‘Surveying the Landscape of COVID-19 Web Collections in European GLAM Institutions’ in a session dedicated to Covid-19 collections. Our findings shed light on the scope of these collections, how they were defined, and the common challenges institutions face in making them accessible for research purposes.
Helena Byrne, Curator of Web Archives
I participated in both the online and in-person event as a collaborator in a presentation in the online day and co-facilitating a workshop at the in-person event. I was involved in the ‘Developing a Reborn Digital Archival Edition as an Approach for the Collection, Organisation, and Analysis of Web Archive Sources’ project with Sharon Healy (Maynooth University) and Juan-José Boté-Vericad (Universitat de Barcelona). Along with Emily Maemura (University of Illinois) we facilitated Workshop-01 ‘Describing Collections with Datasheets for Datasets’. This was part of a series of workshops we hosted to see if the Datasheets for Datasets framework could be applied to UK Web Archive collections published as data.
As a participant there were so many great takeaways from this conference. One of the sessions that stands out most for me is the ‘Renewal in Web Archiving: Towards More Inclusive Representation and Practices’. This was on day two of the conference. The conversations in this session were really useful for me to try and ensure that we continue to try and develop more inclusive collections and opportunities to engage in the curation process. In this session we heard about the next steps for the Archiving the Black Web (ATBW) project. Although this is a USA based project, its impact will be global as they are now currently developing a training programme to improve the curation and research use of the archived black web.
Andrew Jackson, Web Archive Technical Lead
I was involved in a couple of tool workshops during the conference, where it was great to see the interest in shared tooling, and the collaborative commitments this implies. I was also interested in how many of the presentations related to issues around information literacy. For more, see my blog post Reflections on the IIPC Web Archiving Conference 2023.
Ian Cooke, Head of Contemporary British & Irish Publications
This year’s conference was a strong reminder that web archiving is about people - the people whose lives and experiences are expressed in the collections we build; the people whose imaginations shaped the way we use, and have used, the web over time; and the people who are working across collecting, preserving and researching the archived web.
There was a great mix of presentations, blending new developments in technologies, evolving research methods, and approaches to creating and understanding collections, in ways that were accessible to all attendees. Giulia Carla Rossi and I were both pleased to talk about the development of our practice at the British Library, and legal deposit libraries, in collecting ‘emerging formats’.
The IIPC itself is celebrating its 20th year, and the conference reflected that sense of celebration. It also demonstrated the maturing of practice, and reflection on web archiving methods and goals, at many of the organisations represented. A highlight of the conference was the presentations by Makiba Foster and Zakiya Collier on the Archiving the Black Web project, and the potential of web archiving to contribute to ‘black self-education practices, collective study and librarianship’. Foster and Collier argued for well-resourced institutions to take responsibility for providing support to community heritage organisations in building inclusive collections, and also stressed the need for ethical considerations, in particular regarding the rights of people represented within collections, when building collections.
Overall, it was a privilege to take part in the conference and to have the time to connect in person with a community of web archive practitioners and researchers, being able to share knowledge and experience and reminding ourselves of what we have in common.
Carlos Lelkes-Rarugal, Assistant Web Archivist
I very much enjoyed my second attendance of an IIPC annual web archiving conference, 2019 was my first one, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. Sufficed to say, the 2023 WAC was just as successful and another enjoyable, unique experience.
There’s such a diverse background of people, I think this is because web archiving is approached very differently as each organisation have their particular way of going about it, which is why there is such an emphasis on sharing knowledge and information. I attended many talks and learnt about new methods of quality assurance, the infrastructure set up of institutions, policies on collecting; whichever presentation it is, you can be sure there’s something innovative going on that could be applied to your domain.
The UK Web Archive itself represents the six UK Legal Deposit Libraries, and as such, we’re inherently maintaining relationships but more importantly trying to build new relationships for new opportunities, collaborations, and potential partnerships. We’re a small team (larger than others) but still relatively small when considering the scope of our work, and I think this is exactly what the IIPC can help with. Like many organisations, the UK Web Archive does at times find web archiving to be a challenge, and as such, the IIPC helps foster a network of people who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise so that we can connect with them to tackle these emerging and ever-evolving challenges. There’s a collective effort to further web archiving, we’re trying to advance a field that has a lot of potential, so if you’re interested, please join this invaluable community.
Richard Price, Head of Contemporary British Collections
I attended this conference to reacquaint myself with web archiving in a little more detail than I have for some years. It was a privilege to attend, seeing so many different kinds of response from the international community and, if I may so, I felt especially proud of my colleagues at the British Library for their presentations and workshops. If there was a common thread through the papers it was that the problem-solving and information-sharing intrinsic to the web archiving community are values translated from the early days of the web itself – that substantial part of the early Internet that was altruistic and public-minded – and, in today’s archiving world, underpinned by layers of technical, social, and curatorial expertise. Thank you to IIPC and to Sound and Vision at Hilversum, and to all those presenting and attending!
Cambridge University Library
Leontien Talboom, Technical Analyst
This was my first time attending IIPC apart from a very brief appearance on a panel in 2022. I was fortunate enough to be a co-presenter on two talks during the conference. One was with my colleague Mark Haydn where we presented on the datasets that we were able to create during the Archive of Tomorrow project and the other was with my colleague Caylin Smith where we explored the difficulties and opportunities of capturing the University of Cambridge domain.
Both presentations were really enjoyable and it was great to get feedback and questions from colleagues across our field. As this was my first time attending IIPC I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the wide range of topics and formats discussed. One that really stood out to me was the work of Emily Escamilla who talked about reference rot and what would happen if GitHub was to disappear. This really showcased how much as an academic sector we rely on these types of sources to be around when referencing them, but this is not necessarily a given.
National Library of Scotland
Mark Haydn, Metadata Analyst
It has been a few years since I've been at an in-person conference, & I had forgotten how nice it can be to visit another city and spend a few days immersed in presentations and conversations with people working in the same area. Sometimes this meant hearing about something immediately relevant to my own metadata work at the National Library of Scotland, like hearing Tom Storrar of the UK Government Web Archive assess how effective their work ramping up collecting early in the pandemic to capture frequent website updates had been, or listening to members of the ResPaDon Project detail their experiences extending regional access to web archives collections across France. Other presentations served as an opportunity to better understand topics being explored further afield: there were many demonstrations of potential uses of AI, not all of them ominous, ranging from automatically producing descriptive summaries of technical metadata, for use in Library of Congress catalogue records, to generating a generic Stirring Plenary Speech at short notice.
As well as listening in, my colleague Leontien Talboom and I presented some of our work on the Archive of Tomorrow project, summarising the progress that's been possible since the development of the British Library's web archive metadata export. We heard about other institutional and international approaches and platforms for looking at web archives at scale, like Archive-It's ARCH tools, and caught fellow Archive of Tomorrow web archivist Cui Cui's discussion of knowledge sharing before heading back to the UK.
The 2024 IIPC Web Archive Conference will be hosted by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) 24-26 April. Follow the IIPC Twitter account for updates and the call for papers due out in early autumn.