In the Iowa State University Library Digital Collections, we mainly have collections of things that we have digitized here at the library, including photographs, letters, diaries and various documents. However, born digital content, such as web pages, have also been brought together in other library digital collections. We continue to look at these other opportunities for possible growth of our own.
The Library of Congress Digital Collections has web archiving. Keeping old versions of web pages can be an often overlooked task. When a web site is updated, how the old one looked could be lost forever unless there’s a policy and process in place to save the old one for historical reasons. Sometimes there might be a temporary web page up for an anniversary or special event and when it’s over, if it’s not saved, that information could be lost. Sometimes the content might not be that important, but someday people might want to see what the first web page of a university or department looked like to compare how things have changed. The decisions of what to save, how to save it and make it available can be difficult and could impact every department on campus now that everybody seems to have their own web pages.
Columbia University Libraries Digital Collections includes a Human Rights Web Archive. None of the content of these web sites comes from the university. Instead, they bring together web sites from all over the world to create a searchable collection available for research. This extends the mission of the library to provide information by going beyond simply providing the information that exists at the institution. They search the online world instead, in order to provide various resources together in one place.
Preserving an historical record of web content could seem like a monumental task with the creation and changing of web content increasing exponentially all the time. The sooner that policy and procedures everywhere are implemented to deal with this, the better.