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The Library of Congress > Digital Preservation > News Archive > The Proper Way to Capture the Web

September 10, 2010 -- Abbie Grotke knows her history—including the correct expectations for social behavior in years gone by. 

Abbie Grotke. Credit: Barry Wheeler

Abbie Grotke. Credit: Barry Wheeler

As Miss Abigail, her advice-dealing Internet avatar, Grotke doles out wisdom on such important topics as personal grooming, how to clean house without creasing one’s dress and how to properly entertain a beau’s parents.  Delving into the past, Grotke uncovers kitschy, fun, and often humorous bits of our cultural, etiquette-rich history and shares them via her personal website Miss Abigail’s Time Warp Advice (external link).   Culling advice from her own collection of about 1,000 classic advice books she shares the wisdom and know-how of yesteryear with avid readers today.  But, unlike the advice she offers in her book on "Dating, Mating & Marriage" Grotke herself is not stuck in the past.

Today, Abbie Grotke is the newly appointed team leader of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program Web Archiving Team, which is working to build "a Library-wide understanding and technical infrastructure for capturing Web content."

"We’ll never capture everything on the web: it’s too large, too ephemeral," Grotke says.  "In order to manage the task, we’ve created focused projects that capture pertinent websites related to identified themes and notable events.  We’ve also made an effort to engage as many other LOC employees as possible, while lowering the barrier to web archiving efforts."

Image from the Library of Congress Legal Blawgs Web Archives

Image from the Library of Congress Legal Blawgs Web Archives

Recognizing that specialized knowledge is required to identify, select and archive web pages of importance, Grotke and the team work with about 80 subject specialists at the Library of Congress.  "These subject specialists are vital, because they truly are the best curators for the job, something we recognize in both thought and action on the Web Archiving Team," Grotke explains.     

Toward those ends, Grotke is excited to promote two new projects the Web Archiving Team is engaged in: development of the DigiBoard, and the Single Site Web Archiving Project.   "Both are intended to encourage anyone and everyone to contribute to this dynamic effort, which requires input from people who may otherwise be intimidated by web archiving," Grotke says. 

DigiBoard is an in-house curatorial tool which allows the Library’s Recommending Officers, both novice and seasoned, to nominate websites to be captured.  It provides a simple, easy to understand interface that makes web archiving more approachable, while making captured material easier to access. 

The Single Site Project, led by a team in the Library’s Library Services Division, offers the opportunity to capture individual sites of value.  "We believe this will open the web archiving doors for many who have not yet participated," Grotke reports happily.  

Active in capturing the World Wide Web as it appears today, Grotke actually sees her and her team’s efforts as investments in the future.  “More and more of our cultural, political and social record is being born on the web today, not on paper," she says. 
And yes, she does have advice regarding the correct way of regarding web capture.  "We need to ensure that we have enduring access to this information," she counsels. "Simply put, what we capture today is what will inform the future."