Born digital archives in the GLAM sector

The heritage sector is collecting born digital work for future users - but what policies are required around harvesting content for these collections? And how will access be regulated? These are some of the questions raised by the Digital Collection Strategy Leader at the Alexander Turnbull Library Mark Crookson when he visited Auckland Libraries.

Ref: 31-64263, Missie Andrews, 1911, Sir George Grey Special Collections

The Web Archive forms part of the ATL’s collections and has been collecting born digital published, unpublished and online items since 1999. The collection includes over 14,000 websites so far. Some of these relate to significant events such as the Canterbury Earthquake and the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Māori, politics, the arts and environment are some of the collection’s other strengths, thus giving voice to groups and people who may otherwise be forgotten.

Not all content can be captured, some will end up being excluded. So the act of remembering is also an act of forgetting - for collecting is just one way of representing and framing the past. The Web Archive doesn’t need permission to harvest publicly available content but can’t access content stored behind passwords. ATL is currently the only library to have the right to collect data in NZ and the work of ATL is only relatively small in terms of collecting. 

Ref 2-V1109, Sir George Grey Special Collections
ATL uses two strategies to capture content - bulk harvesting and also harvesting selected sites. There is no external access to the web archive at the moment.

Crookson is keen for other institutions in the memory sector to explore digital collection policies, including the targeting of content to reduce overlap between collections.

Author: Leanne, Central Auckland Research Centre