Harvesting Government History

Here’s an interesting article about a group of librarians archiving pages from federal websites, prior to the start of the new administration:

The ritual has taken on greater urgency this year, Mr. Phillips said, out of concern that certain pages may be more vulnerable than usual because they contain scientific data for which Mr. Trump and some of his allies have expressed hostility or contempt.

Source: Harvesting Government History, One Web Page at a Time

I would have assumed that something like this would just be done as a matter of course by archive.org, but I guess it is a big enough job that it needs some human guidance and curation, beyond just pointing a web crawler at *.gov and calling it a day. The Times article doesn’t mention archive.org, but they are involved:

…the Internet Archive, along with partners from the Library of Congress, University of North Texas, George Washington University, Stanford University, California Digital Library, and other public and private libraries, are hard at work on the End of Term Web Archive, a wide-ranging effort to preserve the entirety of the federal government web presence, especially the .gov and .mil domains, along with federal websites on other domains and official government social media accounts.

As a cynic, I want to say that this is largely pointless, but I guess I do still have some hope for the future, since I’m actually kind of enthusiastic about this. It seems like the kind of thing my brother Patrick (who was a librarian) would have been interested in. (Though he, too, was a bit of a cynic at times.)

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