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Ten Years Burning Down the Road: Web Archiving at LVA

Gov. Mark R. Warner (left) and U.S. Sen. John Warner (second from left) tour an intake center and temporary shelter for Gulf Coast hurricane evacuees at Fort Pickett Army National Guard Base near Blackstone, Virginia, on Friday, Sept. 9, 2005. Governor Warner says Fort Pickett and the nearby Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center are ready to house up to 1,400 evacuees, offering them medical, educational and social services at the base before dispatching them to longer term housing at the church center and other locations. From the archived version of www.governor.virginia.gov, captured Sept. 19, 2005. September 2015 marks the ten year anniversary of web archiving at the Library of Virginia. In the fall of 2005, the Library partnered with the Internet Archive for a pilot program using their new web archiving tool, Archive-It (AI). The pilot program ran from September to November 2005 and captured the websites of Governor Mark Warner’s administration, campaign web sites for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and selected Virginia political blogs. After the successful completion of the pilot program, the Library used funding provided by Congress for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) to subscribe to Archive-It. Over the past ten years, the Library has created 21 collections containing over 3000 URLS and has crawled over 89 million documents and 5.1 terabytes of data. Following the Library’s web archiving collection guidelines, the Virginia Web Archive includes the web content of Virginia State Government and Virginia’s political leaders.

Some notable collections include:

This collection preserves the web sites that document Virginia’s November 2005 state-wide election. Included are former Governor Mark Warner’s website, the first lady’s website, the Virginia Democratic and Republican Party websites, as well as sites for the candidates for the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General. Also included are blogs related to the election, websites of cabinet secretaries, and sites for Warner Administration initiatives.

Governor Kaine in the Shenandoah Valley.  From the archived version of www.governor.virginia.gov, captured Jan. 15, 2010. The web archive of the Administration of Governor Tim Kaine (2006-2010)contains archived versions of web sites for the Governor’s Office, his initiative sites, and the sites of his cabinet secretaries. Also included are the related sites for the First Lady (Anne Holton), as well as the Lieutenant Governor (Bill Bolling), and Attorney General (Bob McDonnell and William C. Mims), two statewide officials elected in the same cycle as Governor Kaine.

This collection preserves the web sites of Virginia state agencies.

This collection preserves the websites that document Virginia’s 2009 statewide and Virginia House of Delegates elections (primary and general). All three statewide offices (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General) as well as all 100 members of the Virginia House of Delegates were up for election in 2009. Included are campaign websites for candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and the House of Delegates, official sites for Virginia’s Congressional delegation, the Virginia Democratic and Republican Party websites, as well as websites for members of the Virginia General Assembly.

Governor Robert McDonnell and First Lady Maureen McDonnell attend official portrait unveiling at the Library of Virginia, Dec. 3, 2013. This collection preserves the web sites that document the 2010-2014 administration of Virginia’s 71st governor, Bob McDonnell. Included in the collection are the web sites for the governor, his cabinet secretaries and issues and initiatives. Also included are the web sites of the First Lady (Maureen McDonnell), Lieutenant Governor (Bill Bolling), and Attorney General (Ken Cuccinelli).

Archiving websites is far from perfect. Staff at the Internet Archive frequently say that the “web is a mess,” and so is web archiving. Due to the evolving nature of web sites and web crawlers, not all content can be easily captured. Social media sites (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are particularly challenging. Five years ago, it was extremely time consuming to try archive these pages. Today, improvements in IAs web crawler make capturing these pages much easier. However, the web is constantly changing; who knows what new web archiving challenges the next ten years will bring?

The Virginia Web Archive also can be accessed from Virginia Memory under Digital Collections.

-Roger Christman, LVA Senior State Records Archivist