British Library to store billions of U.K. web pages and tweets

By Daniel S Levine,

The British Library and four other U.K. institutions say they will archive all .uk websites for future generations.

The BBC reports that the British Library, National Libraries of Scotland and Wales, Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries, Cambridge’s University Library and the Library of Trinity College in Dublin will be cataloging billions of web pages created in the U.K. A total of 4.8 million websites will be included, covering everything from academic journals to Stephen Hawking’s official website.

U.K. Facebook and Twitter users will also have to be careful about what they make public, because those could be included in the future as well, notes The Guardian.

“If you want a picture of what life is like today in the UK you have to look at the web,” Lucie Burgess, head of strategy at the library, told the Guardian. She noted that, even though some may think that web sites live forever, content has been lost over the past decade.

“We have already lost a lot of material, particularly around events such as the 7/7 London bombings or the 2008 financial crisis,” Burgess added. She noted that even reaction to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee last year has fallen “into the digital black hole of the 21st century because we haven't been able to capture it.”

“It will be impossible to tell for instance the story of the 2015 general election without accessing what appears on the web,” Ben Sanderson of the British Library told the BBC.

During the process, the British Library launched a survey of the top 100 U.K. sites that should be preserved right away.

Sites collected as part of the project will all be available publicly on computers at the libraries.



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