One of the risks we identified when we wrote the bid for the JISC PoWR project was that those involved in providing institutional Web service would not be interested in issues related to preservation. Surely not, you may feel if you’re a records manager. And if you are involved in providing institutional Web services you may be reluctant to confess to being less than fully committed to an area which does seem worthy. But, to be honest, Web managers may not have a particularly strong interest in this topic. And if this is the case, it will be difficult to persuade them of the need to invest resources in this area and to gain the necessary commitment from senior managers and policy makers. Without these issues being addressed it seems to me that we’re unlikely to make any significant changes to instituional approachs to Web site preservation.
So I was very pleased to read Alison’s Wildish’s blog post enitled “Web Preservation: should we make the time?“. In this post Alison (head of Web Services at the University of Bath) described the case study which she and Lizzie Richard (Archivist, Records Manager and FOI Coordinator at the University of Bath) presesented at the first JISC PoWR workshop. Alison described how:
“Neither of us felt web preservation was something we had expertise in nor the time (and for me the inclination) to fully explore this. Web preservation was something we could see as being useful (in the future) but I think we both felt it wasn’t a priority.”
The good news is that the discussions Alison and Lizzie had after I introduced them to each other and invited them to participate in the JISC PoWR projects have helped them to further their understanding of Web site preservation:
“Simply discussing preservation (from both sides of the fence) taught us a lot. We discovered the risks involved in simply side-lining it; the potential gap in University history and the benefits of embedding preservation into our digital strategy. ”
And now that Alison and Lizzie are better aware of the need to have a policy of Web site preservation they are in a position to start working on one:
“So is it something we should make time for? Yes I believe it is.”
The JISC PoWR project is starting to deliver its goals of engaging the key stakeholders, making them better aware of the challenges in preserving Web sites but also willing to address those challenges 🙂
And I’m please to say that Alison has made the slides used at the workshop available on Slideshare – well worth viewing, especially if you are a records manager who is “a paper person [and] have enough trouble trying to preserve hard copy records without having to worry about the web … [who] can see the value in theory, but in practice it’s too huge [and] guess it might be a good idea, but no one much cares what I think I am interested though… ” or a Web person who has the view that “In all honesty it isn’t interesting to me… We struggle to keep the site current – never mind thinking Web Specialist about preserving the old stuff I am future watching… need to know what to bring in not how to keep hold of the past Why is it something I should think about now? I’m not really that interested“.