By Rosita Murchan, Web Archivist, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)
The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) Web Archive has been building its collection of websites for almost ten years, focusing initially on capturing the websites of our Government departments and local councils but also websites deemed historically or culturally important to Northern Ireland.
Our collection has grown in both size and scope and we now have over 240 captured sites that range from Instagram and twitter feeds to local history group pages to significant inquest sites with one terabyte of data being captured each year.
Unlike the rest of UK where legal deposit libraries are entitled to copy published material from the internet under the 2013 Non-Print Legal Deposit Regulations (NPLD), PRONI has no legal deposit status and rather works on a permissions based approach where we write to website owners informing them of our intention to archive their website and then operate on a ‘silence is consent’ approach crawling a site anyway and taking down websites should the owner request it.
In an attempt to continue to expand our collection we have been very lucky to have been invited to collaborate with the UK Web Archive team based at the British Library on some of their projects in the last year and have added a Northern Ireland perspective on the topics of Brexit and the General Election 2019 and more recently a NI Covid-19 viewpoint.
Part and parcel of this collaboration included us getting access to and being able to use and add to the UK Web Archive ACT Web Archiving tool. For me this was a great opportunity to see and use another web archiving tool, especially a custom piece of software for an institution as reputable as the British Library and it has been a fantastic opportunity for us to archive sites that would normally be outside our remit, as a result we have been able to add to further research for Northern Ireland.
We really hope to continue this partnership with the British library going forward, not only as a method of increasing the amount of NI archived sites but also as a way to continue to improve and learn from their expertise.
You can watch Rosita Murchan’s presentation on the EWA YouTube Channel.