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Results from the NDSA Web Archiving Survey

In fall, 2011, the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA)’s Content Working Group conducted a survey of US organizations either actively involved in, or planning to start, programs to archive content from the web. “The goal of the survey was to better understand the landscape of web archiving activities in the United States by identifying the organizations involved, the types of web content being preserved, the tools and policies being used, and the types of access being provided.” The results of the survey are now available (PDF). The survey questions (PDF) are also available for reference. For a quick snapshot, see the preliminary results posted on the LOC blog.

Web Archiving Activity

The current web archiving activities of the survey respondents was as follows:

  • 63% (49 of 77) have an active web archiving program.
  • 16% (12 of 77) are actively testing a web archiving program.
  • 17% (13 of 77) are planning on pursuing a web archiving program in the near future.
  • 4% (3 of 77) formerly managed web archiving programs, but no longer do so.

Chart 1: Status of current web archiving activities.

Interestingly, of the 71 respondents that identified their web archiving goals, 80% (57 of 71) were archiving content “from other organizations or individuals for future research,” 69% (49 of 71) were preserving their own institutional web content, and 49% (35 of 71) were doing both.

In reviewing the full survey results, a number of themes emerged.

The recent emergence of web archiving, especially at academic institutions

One surprising result was the preponderance of universities that have initiated web archiving programs in the last 5 years. Of the 68 respondents that identified the specific year their web archiving began, nearly a third, 32% (22 of 68) began their programs within the last two years, the exact same number of institutions (22, 32%) that began archiving web content in the 17 years between 1989 and 2006. The recent surge in web archiving within the last 5 years – 68% (46 of 68) of those surveyed – is primarily due to universities starting web archiving programs.

Chart 2: Year began archiving web content.

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