UK Web Archive blog

5 posts categorized "Selection"

23 July 2014

First World War Centenary – an online legacy in partnership with the HLF

Earlier this year, we at the UK Web Archive were delighted to reach an agreement with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to enable the archiving of a very large and significant set of websites relating to the Centenary of the First World War.

Throughout the Centenary and beyond, we will be working with the HLF in order to take archival copies of the websites of all HLF-funded First World War Centenary projects, and to make them available to users in the Open UK Web Archive. The first of these archived sites are already available in the First World War special collection but we hope that this will eventually lead to more than 1,000.

HLF Funding
HLF is funding First World War projects throughout the Centenary, ranging from small community projects to major museum redevelopments. Grants start at £3,000 and funding is available through four different grants programmes: First World War: then and now (grants of £3,000 - £10,000), Our Heritage (grants of £10,000 - £100,000), Young Roots (Grants of £10,000 - £50,000 for projects led by young people) and Heritage Grants (grants of more than £100,000).


Include your website
If you have HLF funding for a First World War Centenary project, please send the URL (web address) to with your project reference number.

If you have a UK-based WW1 website NOT funded by HLF we would still encourage you to add it for permanent archiving through our Nominate form.

This set of archived websites will form a key part of our wider Centenary collection, and capture an important legacy of this most significant of anniversaries.

By Jason Webber, Web Archiving Engagement and Liaison Officer, The British Library

19 February 2013

Nineteenth century English literature: a new special collection

[A guest post from Andrea Lloyd, Curator of Printed Literary Sources, 1801-1914 at the British Library]

After almost a year of gathering I’m pleased to announce that my ‘Curator’s Choice’ collection of websites relating to 19th century English literature has now been published on the UK Web Archive.

As a curator of printed literary sources for the period 1801-1914 it doesn’t require a great leap of imagination to discover why I chose this particular topic. The collection is intended to reflect the diverse interests in the genre that are substantiated on the web. Opinions about, and interpretations of 19th century literature and its authors are constantly evolving and I hope that this resource contextualises these important scholarly and cultural changes.

The sites included so far display a broad and eclectic array of subject matters – ranging from author societies to museums; from literary adaptations to academic syllabi. 19th century literature is still hugely popular and attracts a wide audience. Given the massive interest in the likes of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, I initially thought I would concentrate on lesser-known authors, and on literature that has grown somewhat obscure in the intervening years. This ultimately isn’t how the collection has evolved – sometimes because many of the more niche sites are published without giving any administrator contact details (so permission cannot be sought to archive the site). In other cases, the owners have not responded to permission requests – often because they have cast the sites off into the vast ‘webosphere’ to fend for themselves.

Anna_t BY-NC-SA Flickr

As someone who works with 19th century printed ephemera on a regular basis I found this exercise particularly fascinating. Pertinent comparisons can be drawn between the ephemeral items that are published on the web and those that were printed in the 19th century. A great deal of the ephemeral literature produced in the 19th century has survived to this day (albeit in a fragile state) – either through luck or thanks to collectors with foresight. Given its transient and contributory nature there is a great danger that similar items produced in electronic formats may not be so lucky – hence the reason the Web Archive is so vital. Hopefully my 22nd century counterpart will thank me for choosing to preserve for posterity some of the more marginal, fleeting and subjective sites available relating to the genre!

Now it’s available for all to see, I hope that others will recommend sites that they think would complement the theme and  help to create a lasting snapshot of 19th century literary scholarship in the 21st century. Do get in touch via this blog, or @UKWebArchive on Twitter.

[Image by anna_t, Creative Commons BY-NC-SA]

19 July 2012

UK Web Archive in the eyes of scholars

We commissioned IRN Research earlier this year to gather a scholarly perspective on the UK Web Archive. This work has now completed and we have received feedback on the Archive’s perceived research value, and particularly on the content and access mechanisms which should be further developed to support research use.

The feedback came from two groups of users: those who already use the Archive for research (26%) and those who have not used the Archive (74%). The overwhelming majority are from Arts and Humanities or Social Sciences disciplines. The participants were interviewed over the telephone and a small group also undertook a second phase where they searched the Archive based on specific case studies, detailing each step of the search and results.

All participants appreciated the potential scholarly value of the Archive. Those interested in web history, statistics and digital preservation research highly value the Archive in particular. However, the selective nature of the Archive seems to impact the perception of those using it for the first time, in that they could not find content relevant to their research. This is further related to the search tool, which has been seen by some as complex with  the presentation of the search results perceived as unstructured. On the contrary, existing users are generally satisfied with the search tool, suggesting that increased familiarity with the Archive may help overcome the perceived weakness.

Special Collections were thought by all users to be useful. However, users would like to understand our selection criteria and how the themes for Special Collections are established. There is a desire to see more Special Collections and the facility to nominate themes. “UK politics” and “Contemporary British History” are the 2 broad themes which have been suggested. All users expressed the requirement for including more images and rich media, as well as more blogs.

Many first-time users are unsure about the usefulness of the visualisation tools, especially the N-gram search. However a small group of users are extremely enthusiastic about this. Again there is more interest in visualisation tools from existing users, suggesting the need to add better explanations about the functions and features of the Archive.

The study has given us some insight on how the UK Web Archive is perceived by scholars, which will direct us through the next stage of development. Things to consider for improvement or adjustment include not only the user interface, but also the underlying search and the scope of our collection.

Many thanks to IRN and those took part in the project.

Helen Hockx-Yu, Head of Web Archiving


07 February 2012

New Collection: Video Games, Gaming Culture and the Impact of games on Society

Crazy about computer games? Then nominate websites for our new video games collection!

An exciting new collection is underway to preserve information about computer games developed and played in the UK. It will include resources that document gaming culture and the impact that video games have had on wider society.

The collection is being developed by digital curation and preservation colleagues from across the Library, with additional input from staff at the National Videogame Archive. The National Videogame Archive is a collection of hardware, original software, design documents, marketing material and fan-generated ephemera housed within the National Media Museum and managed in partnership with Nottingham Trent and Bath Spa Universities. Some of the collection items from the National Video Game Archive are on public display in the Museum’s Games Lounge, which is an interactive gallery featuring vintage console and arcade games.

The collection will include games (e.g. disk images, executables of remakes) and information about games (e.g. maps, walkthroughs, FAQs). If we don’t capture it now and get it in the archive, then much of it is at real risk of being lost forever. We’re also very interested in collecting resources that discuss the cultural and societal impact of computer games, for example research on the impact of games on children’s development.

So how can you help? We are calling all games designers, players and enthusiasts to suggest the websites which you think should be preserved. These may include online games, forums, enthusiast sites, FAQs/walkthroughs, advertising, emulation software, research/education resources etc. We’re interested in all sorts of games and aim to capture a comprehensive view of computer game development and gaming culture in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

If you know of any sites that you think should be included, then please let us know by filling in the nominations form. Mark your entry ‘Videogame collection nomination’ in the justification field, as well as entering any other information that might help us to appraise the site. Thanks!

 Stella Wisdom
Digital Curator, The British Library 

02 December 2011

Twittervane: Crowdsourcing selection

TwitterbirdWe’re excited to announce development of a new tool to automate the selection of websites for archiving: the Twittervane.

At the moment, our selection process is manual, dependent upon internal subject specialists or external experts to contact us and nominate websites for archiving in the UK Web Archive. We benefit from their expertise and wouldn’t be without it, but we recognise that this manual selection process can sometimes be time consuming for frequent selectors. It’s also inevitably subjective, reflecting the interests of a relatively small number of selectors. 

Automated selection is an efficient and under-utilised alternative, but up until now it has been difficult to see how an automated approach could clearly identify the most popular and widely relevant websites. Our answer?  Twittervane. 

The Twittervane project will investigate how the power and wisdom of the crowd can be leveraged to automatically select websites for archiving. In essence, it's a crowdsourcing approach to selection that will compliment the manual selections provided by subject specialists and other experts. 

The project will:

  • Deliver a prototype tool for analysing twitter content that will:
    • determine which websites are shared most frequently around a given theme over a given time period;
    • link to our existing web archiving infrastructure to support harvesting of sites that fall within the UK domain
  • Generate at least one pilot special collection comprising websites most frequently shared across the crowd that address or are relevant to a unifying theme
  • Assess the viability of the approach from a curatorial perspective and investigate the ‘wisdom of crowds’ in this context. 

It’s important to get curatorial input to this approach, so we’ll be asking curators from the Library to assess the quality and relevance of resulting selections. The project will start in December and the prototype completed in time for next year’s IIPC May General Assembly in Washington, particularly important as the IIPC are contributing funding for the project.

We aim to provide regular progress updates as development takes place, so watch this space - and Twitter, of course - for more details.