Until recently, if you wanted to search the vast UK Legal Deposit Web Archive (containing the whole UK Web space), then you would need to travel to the reading room of a UK Legal Deposit Library to see if what you needed was there. For the first time, the new UK Web Archive website offers:
- The ability to search the Legal Deposit web archive from anywhere.
- The ability to search the Legal Deposit web archive alongside the ‘Open’ UK Web Archive (15,000 or so publicly available websites collected since 2005).
- The opportunity to browse over 100 curated collections on a wide range of topics.
Who is the UK Web Archive?
UKWA is a partnership of all the UK Legal Deposit Libraries – The British Library, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales, the Bodleian Libraries, Cambridge University Libraries, and Trinity College, Dublin. The Legal Deposit Web Archive is available in the reading rooms of all the Libraries.
How much is available now?
At the time of writing, everything that a human (curators and collaborators) has selected since 2005 is searchable. This constitutes many thousands of websites and millions of individual web pages. The huge yearly Legal Deposit domain crawls will be added over the coming year.
This includes over 100 curated collections of websites on a wide range of topics and themes. Recent collections curated by the Bodleian Libraries include:
- Mental Health, Social Media and the Internet
- Online Enthusiast Communities in the UK
- Gender Equality
- Easter Rising
Do the websites look and work as they did originally?
Yes and no. Every effort is made so that websites look how they did originally and internal links should work. However, for a variety of technical issues many websites will look different or some elements may be missing. As a minimum, all of the text in the collection is searchable and most images should be there. Whilst we collect a considerable amount of video, much of this will not play back.
Is every UK website available?
We aim to collect every website made or owned by a UK resident, however, in reality it is extremely difficult to be comprehensive! Our annual Legal Deposit collections include every .uk (and .london, .scot, .wales and .cymru) plus any website on a server located in the UK. Of course, many websites are .com, .info etc. and on servers in other countries.
If you have or know of a UK website that should be in the archive we encourage you to nominate them via the website.
Another version of this post was first published on the UK Web Archive blog.