CRL President Bernard Reilly notes findings from a report by Jeffrey Garrett on the challenges of provisioning scholars in academia and public policy with documentation issued only in digital form, using resources from Latin America and the Caribbean as an example. A third essay considers solutions beyond conventional web archiving to address persistent threats to the survival of digital data and evidence.
Highlights from a report assessing efforts to archive open web content sources for international and area studies (IAS) research, focusing specifically on the Caribbean and Latin America. Jeffrey Garrett examines systemic and region-specific issues related to capturing proliferating web content, with examples of challenges encountered in research uses.
There are three key U.S. library-based initiatives for archiving ephemeral, open web content from Latin America and the Caribbean: the Library of Congress’s Web Archives (LCWA); Columbia University’s Human Rights Web Archive (HRWA); and the Latin American Government Documents Archive (LAGDA)—with its affiliate, the Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI)—at the University of Texas at Austin. A CRL report has reviewed their approaches to the sustainable capture of open web content, and preliminary information on usage.
Online documentation is being created in ways that elude capture through conventional web-archiving. Harvesters cannot penetrate commercial paywalls or obstacles erected by activists to protect proprietary or sensitive content. If libraries could work further upstream in the information “supply chain,” it may be better to engage web producers in shaping a more durable product. It is not clear how best to apply such support; more research is necessary.