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New Web Archiving Initiative from the ECU Archives!

Library

Posted on October 21, 2022

Filed in Faculty, Staff, Students

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Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

ECU Library + Archives is a member of the web archiving community CARTA - contact us with nominations for art and design websites to preserve.

CARTA stands for Collaborative ART Archive, a partnership between The Internet Archive and the New York Art Resources Consortium. The goal of CARTA is to preserve and provide access to web-based art resources..

The ECU Library + Archives joined CARTA in November 2021 as one of a few Canadian members. When we heard that CARTA was open to Canadian members we jumped at the opportunity. Not only has being a part of CARTA allowed us to preserve the University’s content (featuring staff and student work and research) but it has also allowed us to work collaboratively with community networks to nominate local arts websites, and will eventually result in a portal to provide access to this content for researchers. Before joining, we saw an urgent need to crawl ECU and related websites, and we wanted to support smaller BC based arts organizations and artists in preserving their web content. Being a member of CARTA allows us to reach these goals.

Now that a majority of arts content, such as exhibition announcements, invitations, artist statements, press releases and small publications exist solely online, we needed a new way for researchers to access these materials. Before becoming members of CARTA, one of the ways that this information was searchable was through our Artist Files, a locally maintained collection of specific materials about local artists, designers, filmmakers and events. Unfortunately, there have been few additions to the collection over the past few years with the increase of online projects and decrease of printed materials, especially throughout the pandemic.

The artist files collection is frequently used and provides documentation of the skilled artists, designers and filmmakers affiliated with the University. It also emphasizes the value placed on experiential learning from practicing professionals and encourages the Library + Archives team to keep apprised of exhibitions, talks, performances and other local arts events. We are looking forward to the launch of the CARTA research portal and working with researchers to promote the use of web archives as a dynamic addition to the artist files.

To date, through CARTA we have nominated 40 sites and many of them were generously suggested by colleagues from artist-run centres. We have selected websites that represent artistic production and practice in the lower mainland, specifically focussed on arts education and at-risk websites featuring work by BIPOC artists. Not only has it been great to learn about different local web resources that exist, it has been meaningful to connect with community members who are invested in the preservation of web content both locally and through the CARTA membership.

In the next year, we are really looking forward to participating in datathons and testing of the newly developed CARTA portal with a specific eye to how we can support the ECU Community and our patrons, mainly artists, faculty and students, in their research. Eventually we would like to host our own web research workshops, libguides and events, along with local arts organizations, to advocate for the importance of web archives and promote their use as extraordinary research tools for artists.

Categories that are within the scope of CARTA include: Art Criticism; Art Fairs and Events; Art Galleries; Art History/Scholarship; Artists Websites; Arts Education; Arts Organization; and Auction Houses. Many of the current arts-related materials within these categories are now solely published online and we are happy to be a part of a coordinated approach to archiving this material that is at-risk of disappearing.

We are writing to ask members of the ECU Community to submit recommendations for your nominations. Do you know of any websites that are at risk of being erased or are updated frequently and should be preserved as research resources? Let us know by filling out this form or by email at kwaller@ecuad.ca!