Someone in the future is waiting for your post

Archiving your blog or website at The British Library

As out-of-the-blue messages go, the email I received last week from The British Library, requesting permission to archive my poetry site, And Other Poems, was one of the most unexpected:

Dear Sir/Madam

The British Library would like to archive your website in the UK Web Archive. The UK Web Archive was established in 2004 to capture and archive websites from the UK domain, responding to the challenge of a ‘digital black hole’ in the nation’s memory. It contains specially selected websites that represent different aspects of online life in the UK.

 

Hours and years of endeavour saved for posterity

Of course I said “yes” although archiving the work of And Other Poems, or of the blog you’re currently reading, or, inBritish Library fact, of any blog or website, is something that never crossed my mind before.  But, thinking about it now, I’m grateful that The British Library is taking on the task of saving for posterity what amounts to days and years of work.  I’m not talking about the hours I spend hunched over my laptop in my sitting room, reading and uploading the poems – although I’m glad that someone thinks my backache has been worth it – but about the years of poetic labour represented in the hundreds of poems I’ve collected on my site over  the last two and a half years.  And, if you’re a reader or writer of websites, you’ll appreciate the amount of research, information gathering and creativity that is crammed into many a post: If you know of a site worth preserving, including your own, read on.

Beyond the here and now

Every website has its own archive, of course, available to anyone to access and read today but it’s the work of archivists to imagine our world beyond the here and now, to the time when, for whatever reason, blog and website owners are no longerableorwillingtokeeptheir sites updated.  It’s gratifying to know that someone has acknowledged that work on blogs and websites has value and is worth keeping.   As explained on The British Library website:

“The purpose of the UK Web Archive is to collect, preserve and give permanent access to key UK websites for future generations.”

What kinds of sites are archived?

Since April 2013, according to information on their own website, The British Library has been “archiving millions of websites obtained through (their) annual archiving of the entire UK domain.  This was “enabled by the non-print legal deposit regulations introduced by the government.”  This archive requires no permission from site owners but the UK Web Archive does require owners’ permission – hence the email sent to me – and perhaps this particular archive may be of interest to you if you are a blogger with a UK address.

It’s a huge task to find and archive sites which “represent different aspects of online life in the UK.”  What kinds of subjects to they want?  Here’s an extract from their own website:

Contributors to the UK Web Archive select websites according to their own collection development policies and areas of expertise. 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.

 Is what you’re blogging about worth keeping?

It’s likely that if you’re writing about an aspect of life which interests you and your followers, it will also be of interest to a wider audience and to future generations.  As stated, the archivists want sites which “reflect the diversity of lives, interests and activities throughout the UK.”  So how can you go about letting The British Library know about your blog?

Nominating a site

I don’t know who nominated And Other Poems, perhaps an archivist found the site themselves (many a poetry lover can be found in a library!) perhaps a contributor or reader nominated it – I’m grateful to whoever it was! – but there are certainly many sites which it would be a shame not to save and make available for a wider readership, now and in the future.  Why not get in touch with The British Library yourself, either to let them know about a site or to nominate your own?

“Members of the public, including website owners themselves, are welcome to nominate a website for the archive.”

Meanwhile, keep writing and blogging.  Someone  in the future is waiting to read your post.

p.s. And, yes, I did nominate this site, and yes, The British Library wanted to archive this one, too. Nice to know they’re not averse to the odd rabbit pic.

7 thoughts on “Someone in the future is waiting for your post

  1. JoelAlmeida says:

    How wonderful, congrats! I can imagine an alien landing on Earth several millenia hence and coming across the British Library’s digital archive. It would think us a poetic species, once it had learnt English.

    Liked by 1 person

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