Community Webs

By Niels Bekkema
Niels Bekkema's stories

Community Webs is a program of Archive-It and the Internet Archive launched in 2017 to advance the capacity for public libraries to build archives of web-published primary sources documenting local history and underrepresented voices by providing resources for cohort development, professional training, technology services services, and in support of scholarly research use.

The Community Webs cohort of 40 public libraries has collectively archived over 50 terabytes of web based community heritage materials documenting the lives of local citizens, marginalized voices, and groups often absent from the historical record. The program and its participants have also created open educational resources relating to web archiving, digital preservation, community archiving, and collection development, explored new forms of local engagement and partnerships through public programming and crowdsourcing, and had their digital collections used by scholars and in computational research work.

The program and its cohort of librarians are redefining the role of public libraries in preserving the lives and activities of their communities, and by expanding this program to more than 150 diverse libraries from around the country, the breadth and impact of the collections created, as well as the professional development opportunities for librarians will continue to grow. Archiving primary sources from the web is an increasingly important activity of the stewards of community memory. Public libraries often fill this role, but have historically made up only a small fraction of the growing web archiving community. The Community Webs program continues to bridge that gap and make web archiving more approachable to public libraries.

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1 March, 2022