Columbia University Libraries Receives $550K Mellon Grant for Collaborations in Web Content Archiving

Building on the results of an implementation grant completed in 2012, the new three-year Mellon Foundation grant will improve the effectiveness of web archiving methods and outcomes through collaborations with other libraries’ collecting programs, and with scholars, content producers, and technology innovators. 

The project was developed in response to needs identified at “Web Archiving Policies and Practice in the US: 2012 Summit”, a conference convened by the Libraries in 2012, during which leading experts from across the United States met to discuss the current state of web archiving and future challenges in collecting and preserving web content. 

“The Summit showed broad agreement on the need for action in several areas as web archiving continues to grow," said Robert Wolven, principal investigator for the project and associate university librarian for bibliographic services and collection development at Columbia University.  “We need to find ways to share expertise and infrastructure, to better understand how researchers will use web archives, and work with website owners to make their content easier to collect.”

The grant includes administration of a series of monetary awards for the development of software applications that will advance web archiving and the use of archived content.  The Libraries will convene a multi-institutional oversight panel to facilitate these awards through a competitive application process to be announced in spring 2013.

“Attendees at the Summit meeting had many ideas for tools that would make their work easier, and yield better results,” said Wolven.  “Our hope is that the financial assistance provided by the Mellon Foundation through this grant will encourage and accelerate this work.”

The grant will draw on the expertise of the Libraries’ Web Resources Collection Coordinator, the Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research, the Libraries Digital Program Division, the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS), and the Copyright Advisory Office, as well as Columbia’s Computer Science Department and human rights scholars to refine and extend models for collecting web resources in academic research libraries.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 11 million volumes, over 150,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 500 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: