As part of national changes, the Bodleian Library will now act as an archive for most web content published in the UK.
Following ten years of planning, a digital archive will keep a record of nearly every page published online, estimated to be around a billion pages per year.
The archive will not include either social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, or sites containing solely audiovisual information, such as Youtube. Additionally, the archive will avoid pages such as emails, intranets, and restricted personal information.
However, pages including both text and embedded video, such as BBC news articles, will be archived. Along with selected web pages, the archive will also include e-journals, e-books, “handheld” electronic items such as CD ROMs, and items on microfilm.
As a legal deposit library, the Bodleian, along with Cambridge’s University Library, the library of Trinity College Dublin, the British Library, and the national libraries of Scotland and Wales, has the right to collect and store everything that is published in the UK, both in print and online.
The new archive will also allow researchers to access material currently behind online paywalls.
The change follows from a 2003 update of the 1911 Copyright Act allowing legal deposit libraries to make provisions for non-print publications. However, only material published online from 6th April 2013 will be stored.
The archive will not be immediately comprehensive, however. Users will first have access to around 26,000 articles, and that the amount of material will grow rapidly over the next few years. It is estimated that the Bodleian archive will include 115,000 electronic articles and 6,000 e-books by April 2014.
The new archive may be searched using SOLO, under a new “Electronic Legal Deposit” tab above the search bar. However, a number of legal restrictions apply to the material. Students may only access the material via a Bodleian Libraries workstation – access from college libraries or a personal computer is not permitted. Additionally, only one user at each legal deposit library may access a particular item at any one time, and no copying or saving of the material is permitted, even within usual copyright guidelines. However, students will be able to print pages for personal use, within reasonable limits.
Additionally, owing to technical issues, the electronic legal deposit will only be available using Mozilla Firefox.
The Legal Deposit Libraries are also working to curate several smaller collections on a particular theme. The first of these, relating to current reform of the NHS, will be available in July.
As a part of the initiative, the British Library has launched a survey to compile a list of the top 100 websites that ought to be preserved for future generations. Whilst most are unsurprising, such as Facebook and Wikipedia, some suggestions, such as the Dracula Society, are more unexpected.