May 28, 2019
Ball State University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections has launched a community archiving initiative to preserve and make accessible the websites of area organizations and businesses.
The Ball State University Libraries’ web archive creates snapshots of selected websites at regular time intervals to capture and preserve culturally and historically significant information relevant to the city and county. The archived webpages are fully searchable and accessible.
The archiving of web content is far more complex than the preservation of newspapers, paper letters, and print photographs, but technology tools used by Archives and Special Collections address these challenges seamlessly and effectively, said Sarah Allison, a library archivist who has collaborated to develop this initiative.
“Historical information is not just in print or paper form anymore; it is more than something physical,” she said. “It is on the web, and we are going to preserve it.”
The project is the latest initiative to fulfill Ball State’s long-standing goal of preserving and providing public access to valuable historical records of Muncie and Delaware County through the Stoeckel Archives of Local History at Ball State, named in honor of late Professor of History Althea Stoeckel, who pioneered community archiving in Muncie in the 1960s.
Initial development of the web archive began in late 2018. In early 2019, archivists from Ball State already added more than 100 webpages from diverse local organizations including nonprofits, cultural organizations, social and political groups, service organizations and clubs, health service and educational institutions, civic and government entities, and small businesses.
This quick action is helping preserve local history that might otherwise be lost, said Ely Sheinfeld, a Ball State electronic records archivist, who noted that the average lifespan of a webpage is just over 90 days.
“If we are not able to capture the information posted online shortly after it has been posted, we stand the real chance of losing it forever,” she said. “Something that is exciting about the web archive is we are collecting the ‘right here and now.’”
The project will also include webpages pertaining to Indiana architecture as part of the University’s Drawings and Documents Archive as well as webpages from Ball State departments, faculty members, and student organizations.
Organizations and local businesses wanting to have websites included in the web archiving may contact Ball State’s Archives and Special Collections at email@example.com.