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The web changes fast – and the web disappears fast. But since 1999 the Alexander Turnbull Library has been archiving New Zealand websites, saving a visual history of how websites change through time.

The National Library website as it looked in 1999The National Library website in 1999. A triumph, a true work of art.

In November I started helping out the Web Archiving team here and I’ve gotten the chance to see some amazing websites as we bring them into the National Digital Heritage Archive.

The diversity of sites I‘ve seen has been mind-blowing and it is great that the Library now holds copies in the NDHA, especially as the impermanence of websites means they can vanish into cyberspace without any notice.

How do we choose a site?

We select websites for archiving if they contain information of value to researchers or reflect New Zealanders’ use of the internet. Although the selection of websites is primarily thematic or events based, the nature of the web means we sometimes stumble onto websites that defy easy categorisation.

Topics of interest - subjects

The main thematic area I’ve been selecting in has been the arts and literature. This site, The Kool Kids Company is a great example of how a young New Zealand artist has used his website to promote his work and also to record his creative journey.

Archived version of the Kool Kids Company siteThe Kool Kids Company website.

Visual arts are especially well suited to the web format, but there are a lot of New Zealand writers publishing on the web as well. The Brighter Future website features a collaboration between film-maker Jonathan King and novelist Chad Taylor which was only published online.

Save the date - events

The major event that we are preparing for at moment is the London Olympics. Whilst selecting websites to add to our London Olympics group it struck me how many of the athletes attempting to compete there are prolific bloggers. This is especially so amongst the smaller and lesser funded sports, like sailing, heptathlon and canoe slalom.

Luuka Jones' blogLuuka Jones' blog. Go team kiwi!

More than just a self-promotion tool, however, these blogs give the readers a fascinating look into what it takes to be an elite athlete with all the training and travelling they must undertake with no guarantee of Olympic selection at the end of it.

Finally I’d like to bring to your attention a unique and very New Zealand website. The Golden Shears is an iconic New Zealand event and its last iteration is possibly the largest website we’ve added to the NDHA at a whopping 31.25 Gigabytes.

It’s so big because the site contains videos of all the heats and finals in machine shearing, blade shearing and woolhandling from 2008 onwards to watch. With 2 full length monographs in our collections already about the Golden Shears, we’re sure this website will great for future researchers!

By Andrew Henry

Andrew is a Collection Management Librarian in the mornings and an Electronic Publications Librarian in the afternoons.

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Linda Hall June 13th at 9:41AM

Thanks Andrew, that is really good to be able to see some of the work you have been doing and know that it ties in so well with the work you are doing with Legal Deposit collecting, preserving and mking availalble New Zealand's published documentary heritate as well as the vast and rich website heritage.

Mark June 13th at 5:16PM

I love that old National Library website! When do you think website design will go retro? It could be the template for beautiful things in the future.....

Vivienne June 15th at 11:51AM

I remember this...

In 1995, I worked with Helios Communications on developing the visual look of the website.

I also worked with them on the first version of Timeframes website:

Timeframes went live in around 1998.

I can also remember browsing the web with Lynx - a text based web browser: back about 1992. And next, it was Mosaic and Netscape...

I used to work on New Zealand Bibliographic Network and on the NDIS Project.

kath June 19th at 11:52AM

Hi Andrew, How very interesting and varied subjects, I will sure look at the Golden Shears

emily June 29th at 12:25AM

Very very interesting,i finally undefrstand what your jobby is.