Web archiving is an activity whereby web sites are collected and preserved for future use. This has become a very important activity in the cultural domain, particularly due to the transitory nature of websites. Sites are usually collected by a ‘web crawler’ which is an automated piece of software designed to capture websites at a particular point in time, and these captured sites can then be made available for research, sometimes long after the original site has disappeared.
Web archiving at the National Library of Ireland
The National Library's first web archiving project was the General Election 2011 followed by the Presedential Election 2011. Websites were identified for inclusion and pre and post election snapshots were taken as part of the project. The library is continuing with selective web archiving with the aim of creating a web archive containing sites of cultural and historical importance covering a broad range of subjects and events of Irish interest.
The web crawling activities for this project are being carried out by the Internet Memory Foundation, a non-profit organisation established to actively support the preservation of Internet as a new media for heritage and cultural purpose.