Tuesday September 25, 2018

‘Great Scott!’: Go ‘Back to the Future’ with Archive-It

By Stephanie Shreffler

Have you ever used the Wayback Machine on the Internet? The Wayback Machine allows you to view webpages from years past — for example, you can see what Yahoo looked like in 1998, or you can see what UD’s website looked like in 2002.

The Wayback Machine was created by the Internet Archive, which works to preserve websites and webpages for posterity. The Internet is prone to enormous amounts of data loss as links change and websites shut down. Losing the content of these websites represents an incredible loss to cultural memory and heritage.

To help in its goal to preserve the Internet, the Internet Archive created a software tool called Archive-It, which allows institutions to create curated collections of archived webpages. Archive-It users can select websites to crawl;1 set up automatic times for crawls to repeat; and save these websites to the Internet Archive. This creates historical interactive snapshots of webpages at specific moments in time. An institution can also create direct links to these archived pages from its Archive-It site, allowing researchers to browse content more easily.

The University Libraries opened a subscription to Archive-It in 2014 to preserve access to content on University of Dayton webpages and to ensure that web resources related to our mission and research are not lost. The University Archives and Special Collections department saves UD’s website and social media content. The Marian Library preserves websites related to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The U.S. Catholic Special Collection is preserving a selection of blogs written by American Catholics.

We’re pleased to announce that researchers can now access this content directly through UDiscover.2 Results from our Archive-It collections will automatically appear when you conduct a search within UDiscover. You can also browse our Archive-It collections from Roesch Library’s list of databases.

NOTES

1 Web crawlers are bots that systematically and automatically index webpages for search engines. The Internet Archive uses crawlers to save and preserve websites.

2 UDiscover is A search tool that lets a user retrieve all types of research sources with one search. If you’re looking for a variety of sources on your topic, or if you're just getting started, UDiscover can help you access more information at once than ever before. It has a Google-like relevancy ranking but helps you locate scholarly resources.

— Stephanie Shreffler is an assistant professor in the University Libraries and collections librarian/archivist for the U.S. Catholic Special Collection. Ione Damasco, professor and coordinator of cataloging, and Tina Beis, assistant professor and discovery services librarian, also contributed to this blog.

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