Digital Archiving Resources

A Vision of the Role and Future of Web Archives


A Vision of the Role and Future of Web Archives


Web archiving


The history of the web and the record of its impact on society may never fully be realized if measures to record and preserve its content are not carefully and consistently maintained. Leetaru identifies the inconsistencies in web archiving by public institutions, such as the Library of Congress, and commercial enterprises, such as the New York Times. He explains current trends for limiting the size of the “crawl” (ingesting web content into the archive) and the web site’s rate of change may not promote discovery of patterns and insights for future scholars and historians. Leetaru proposes web archiving institutions solicit the users and data miners for selecting and presenting the web archive’s content and developing the protocol for ingesting web artefacts.

In addition to increasing the collaboration of a broad web archiving community, Leetaru suggests web archives should also increase the visibility of its holdings and provide sufficient contextual information for the different versions and replacements of web content. Like Wikipedia’s chronology of updates and editions for each page of content, Leetaru believes a web archive should reveal the source code as well as origins of its content. In response to copyright restrictions and rights to privacy, he recommends “snapshots” and limiting algorithms to “surface-level analyses.” By opening access to the intellectual content of the web artefacts and simultaneously adhering to both property and technical standards, preservation of the web archive and the potential for future research can be assured.


Leetaru, Kalev


University of Illinois




Polk, Victoria




Bibliographic Citation

Leetaru, Kalev. "A Vision of the Role and Future of Web Archives." A paper presented at the 2012 General Assembly of the International Internet Preservation Consortium, Washington, D.C., April 30 - May 4, 2012.





Leetaru, Kalev, “A Vision of the Role and Future of Web Archives,” Digital Archiving Resources, accessed May 22, 2018,