SUL Joins the IIPC Steering Committee


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We are pleased to announce the acceptance of our bid to join the IIPC Steering Committee, based on a vote by the IIPC membership. SUL joins the 15-member group as one of two currently-serving university library members (the other being the University of North Texas Libraries) and as the third university library to ever serve on the body (the other being the California Digital Library).

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Noteworthy Discoveries in the SLAC Web Archive


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In the course of creating a browsable archive of the SLAC earliest websites, we discovered a number of interesting facts and features that might not be readily apparent on casual browsing. While surely not an exhaustive catalog, we hope that these observations will help you to quickly get into the archive and discover some of what it has to offer.

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Explore the Oldest U.S. Website


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At a microscopic level, web archives document the evolution of individual websites. At a macroscopic level, they document the evolution of the Web itself. In the case of web archives for the period when the entire Web consisted of only a handful of individual websites, changes to even a single website reflect changes to the Web itself. We are pleased to announce the availability of such an archive, notably featuring the oldest U.S. website, dating to December 21, 1991.

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Designing for Archivability


Web archives are a great way to reference or recover deprecated site content. You can help to ensure that old versions of your website will be faithfully preserved by designing for archivability.

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Web Observatory Briefing and Workshop


A couple of weeks ago, Stanford University Libraries hosted Dame Wendy Hall, Jim Hendler, and other web scientists affiliated with the Web Science Trust for a briefing on the Web Observatory initiative and a follow-on workshop organized by Lisa Green from Common Crawl. The notion of a Web Observatory implies a center proferring scientific instruments, but for the analysis of web data rather than natural phenomena. Indeed, the group's vision is that Web Observatories provide access to web datasets, projects, and tools. Eventually, a network of Web Observatories might offer both an interoperable architecture and distributed infrastructures for sharing and analysis of web datasets. The initiative touches on several areas of interest and investment by Stanford University Libraries, including data curation, web archiving, and supporting social science research.

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Guidance on Building Archivable Websites


A major challenge for web archivists is the low visibility that downstream archiving has on upstream web content creation. And, yet, deliberate and inadvertent architectural decisions made by web content creators strongly impact the ease or difficulty with which their websites can be captured and faithfully re-presented. A non-trivial byproduct of webmasters helping to ensure their content is archived for their own later use is that the Web itself becomes more archivable, to everyone's benefit.

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Reliable and Confidential Archiving of U.S. Supreme Court Web Cites


The topic of link rot in legal materials has been an area of study for some time (PDF) but has only recently surfaced in the mainstream press with the high-profile findings by two separate law journal articles of the high incidence of broken links in U.S. Supreme Court opinions. It's a problem that the Court has made some effort to mitigate, albeit in a disjointed way. Staff working for the Reporter of Decisions pre-check the citations in all-but-published opinions and save cited web content to PDF for inclusion in the files, an approach consistent with 2009 guidance (PDF) issued by the U.S. Federal Courts. The Ninth Circuit Library uses a similar technique but does one better by actually posting the PDFs online.

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The MH17 Crash and Selective Web Archiving


The Internet Archive Wayback Machine has been mentioned in several news articles within the last week  (see here, here and here) for having archived a since-deleted blog post from a Ukrainian separatist leader touting his shooting down a military transport plane which may have actually been Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. At this early stage in the crash investigation, the significance of the ephemeral post is still unclear, but it could prove to be a pivotal piece of evidence.

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Recap of International Web Archiving Community Meeting


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Web archivists Ahmed AlSum and Nicholas Taylor and LOCKSS Chief Scientist David Rosenthal recently attended the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) General Assembly, an annual meeting of national libraries, research universities, non-profits, and service providers engaged in web archiving. This was the first General Assembly we all attended since Stanford University Libraries (SUL) joined the IIPC, though we had all previously attended meetings under the auspices of other organizations.

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Campaign Web Archives to Support Multi-Institutional Research


Recognizing the at-risk nature of this content and its value to scholarship, the Stanford University Libraries (SUL) and the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS) are collaborating on a project conceived by researchers in the Department of Political Science, enabled by the Archive-It web archiving service, and since joined by political science researchers at two other institutions, to create a comprehensive and longitudinal web archive collection of 2014 congressional primary and general election candidate websites.

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Personal Digital (Web) Archiving


Physical keepsakes like photos, letters, and vital documents have a thankfully long shelf-life with little affirmative effort. The susceptibility of the digital artifacts that increasingly replace them to loss or corruption has raised awareness about the heightened need to curate, manage, and protect these assets. Interest in "personal digital archiving" has grown significantly within the last few years, as demonstrated by three annual conferences on the topic, practical guidance developed by the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) at the Library of Congress, as well as attention from other educational and cultural heritage institutions.

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