What happens to websites when they die? What is your organisation doing to ensure its website goes down in history? Do you know an interesting website and want to help save it for posterity? The British Library’s Web Preservation Programme might just be the answer.
The British Library has been collecting selected websites since 2004, but it now has a nomination function. This means that if you consider your website to be of historical importance, and the BL agrees, they will save working snapshots of your website every six months and provide access to it at the UK Web Archive. For free. You don’t even need to be associated with a site to nominate, although it will speed the process up if you are the site owner.
This service is particularly useful for community websites or periodical websites, such as festivals. For any project or temporary website, nomination is a good way of ensuring your work remains accessible even if your domain name lapses. This is what the UK Web Archive already has for Manchester. Visit the British Library’s website to nominate your site, or for more information.
Here’s how the BL chooses websites to preserve: “Selected websites are considered to be of long term research value, either in themselves or as part of a Special Collection of themed materials. Typically, archived websites publish research, reflect the diversity of lives, interests and activities throughout the UK, or demonstrate web innovation. They are chosen to represent a range of social, political, cultural, religious, scientific or economic activities”.
The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine is an American initiative which does the same kind of thing. They got in on the game much earlier, and they’re still crawling. You can see a retro version of Manchester City Council’s website from November 1996 here. Why not try it for your favourite websites and take a walk down Windows Memory Lane?