Imagine a world in which libraries and archives had never existed. No institutions had ever systematically collected or preserved our collective cultural past: every book, letter, or document was created, read and then immediately thrown away. What would we know about our past? Yet, that is precisely what is happening with the web: more and more of our daily lives occur within the digital world, yet more than two decades after the birth of the modern web, the “libraries” and “archives” of this world are still just being formed.1
Web archiving is the process of collecting portions of the World Wide Web, preserving the collections in an archival format, and then serving these archives for access and use.2 However, the sheer scale of the web, its ever-evolving technical infrastructure, and the legal, economic, and organizational challenges associated with effectively capturing publicly accessible online content, all represent significant challenges. Many institutions in Canada are actively engaged in web archiving activities. The Canadian Web Archiving Coalition (CWAC) is a national community of practice for sharing, coordination, and support related to web archiving.
Background to the Canadian Web Archiving Coalition (CWAC)
The Canadian Web Archiving Coalition (CWAC) is an inclusive community of practice for Canadian libraries, archives, and other memory institutions engaged or otherwise interested in web archiving. The Coalition’s mission is to identify gaps and opportunities that could be addressed by nationally coordinated strategies, actions, and services, including collaborative collection development, training, infrastructure development, and support for practitioners and researchers.
The Canadian Web Archiving Coalition was established in 2017 by the Digital Preservation Working Group (DPWG) of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries’ Advancing Research Committee, which has responsibilities to consider national preservation issues related to Canada’s multi-format documentary heritage.3 The DPWG identified the importance of strengthening collaborative efforts in the Canadian web archiving community as critical to advancing the mandate of the Advancing Research Committee.
Goals of the Canadian Web Archiving Coalition
The Canadian Web Archiving Coalition works to develop an inclusive community of practice within Canadian libraries, archives, and other memory institutions engaged or otherwise interested in web archiving. The community of practice explores gaps and opportunities that may be addressed by nationally coordinated strategies, actions, and services, including collaborative collecting, training, infrastructure development, and support for practitioners.
Call for renewed participation, Fall 2021
CWAC is issuing a new call across Canada for interested individuals to join the Coalition. Participation is open to those involved or interested in web archiving, from libraries, archives, museums, or other institutions. Meetings and community calls will be held online and attendance is voluntary. More information about CWAC may be found at: https://www.carl-abrc.ca/advancing-research/digital-preservation/cwac/
If you would like to participate or to recommend a colleague, please email Dana McFarland (Dana.McFarland@viu.ca), CWAC Coordinating Committee Chair. We are asking that you respond by Sept. 15, 2021.
1 Abby Potter, 2012. “A Vision of the Role and Future of Web Archives: The Web Archive in Today’s World.” https://perma.cc/5QRJ-7R7N
2 International Internet Preservation Coalition, 2012. “Why Archive the Web?” https://perma.cc/29H9- T5LQ
3 Canadian Association of Research Libraries, 2016. “CARL Advancing Research Committee: Terms of Reference.” https://perma.cc/HQ3Z-76KY