Readying for Reframing: Reports on Web Archiving

Over the past year, NYARC has surveyed the publishing and web archiving landscape to develop a program for collecting born-digital art research materials.  An overview of this project called “Reframing Collection for a Digital Age: A Preparatory Study for Collecting and Preserving Web-Based Art Research Materials,” funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, can be found here.

Through conversations with many staff members, colleagues, publishers, and vendors we have learned a tremendous amount over the past year. We asked:

Have we reached a “tipping point” from analog to digital materials? It quickly became obvious that we will be managing hybrid print and digital collections for the foreseeable future and the tipping point for art research materials is not yet on the horizon.

What born-digital materials should we collect? There is a vast amount of material online within the art domain. Staff and data budgets make it necessary to define a clear collection development policy.

How can we collect these materials? We looked at non-profit and corporate web archiving systems available in the market to assess capabilities and limitations.

How do we describe and provide access to archived materials? We feel strongly that access and preservation go hand-in-hand.  Key concerns are streamlining metadata creation and implementing a format-agnostic discovery interface for researchers.

How do we preserve these materials? Storing a local copy of our web archive collection’s WARC files for long-term preservation is a necessary component of a web archiving initiative.

What level of staffing and workflows will be necessary to support a web archiving program? Managing a hybrid print and digital collection will be challenging, requiring additional resources and tool development for efficient administration.

The biggest take-away from our research is that collaboration is essential to make processes more streamlined, to tackle the abundance of material being published online, and to collectively work towards making our systems more flexible to deal with the variety of formats that now make up a 21st century library collection. The following reports are being made available to disseminate our findings and help foster a dialogue in the art library community about how we can tackle the challenges presented in a collaborative way:

Project Proposal
Final Report
Summary of Recommendations
Truman Technologies Report

We don’t yet have all of the answers, and the landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace, but NYARC is committed to developing a program that makes web-based materials a core component of our collecting activities and we look forward to becoming an active member of the web archiving community.

For those of you traveling to the ARLIS conference in Pasadena, don’t miss the presentation of our findings by Stephen Bury, Director of the Frick Art Reference Library, on Saturday, April 27th. For those of you unable to make it to Pasadena, feel free to leave comments or questions on this page or contact me directly at

Lily Pregill, NYARC Project Coordinator & Systems Manager

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