Author: Government recordkeeping
Written by Robin Friend, Digital Records Technical Specialist, and David Fowler, Manager Digital Transfer for World Digital Preservation Day 2022 on 3 November.
This year Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) took the plunge into website preservation after being approached by a Victorian Government agency for advice regarding the preservation of two public websites that were due to be de-commissioned. After an unsuccessful attempt by a third-party vendor to capture the sites in our preferred preservation format (.warc) we decided to have a go ourselves, as a learning experience if nothing else. The results were surprising and successful.
Server-side web archiving
As the websites were relatively small (in terms of number of pages) we decided to try to capture them using Conifer. This was a relatively slow and involved process, however it was very worthwhile, as the captures proved to be faithful to the original user experience.
We now want to gain additional expertise in this space. The capture required the archivist to navigate through each page to be captured and in the absence of an accurate site map, content could be accidentally overlooked, so exploring more advanced tools such Browsertrix could be worthwhile. Ultimately too, we’d like to provide access via our online catalogue, perhaps by embedding a tool such as replayweb.page.
Overall, we discovered that while digital preservation can seem daunting, particularly for those without technical expertise, it is worthwhile investigating the tools that may be available. Conifer is both free and easy to use, and the relatively small-time investment has led to a better outcome for the government agency, PROV and future researchers.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.
Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting.
PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples.