Conclusions and recommendations
This research has explored the use and awareness of web archives by New Zealand tertiary academics in the humanities and social science disciplines. New Zealand now has a baseline of data to be able to track and compare the uses and value of this unique collection over time.
The data shows that there is a large lack of awareness of web archiving amongst the majority of researchers in New Zealand’s tertiary institutions. This is expressed in the results of the initial survey questions and the error respondents made interpreting the definition of a web archive.
- 23% of respondents believed they were aware of the New Zealand Web Archive.
- 7% of respondents are reliably aware of the New Zealand Web Archive.
- 39% of respondents were aware of the international initiatives regarding web archiving.
A lack of awareness was expected by the Library. These results confirm our hypothesis and show that there is an opportunity to promote the collection as a research and teaching resource.
There were, however, a small number of respondents who were very well informed about web archiving. These respondents tended to use international sources of archived websites, particularly the Internet Archive.
- 7% of respondents knew about AND had used the New Zealand Web Archive.
- 44% of respondents had used international sources of archived websites.
- 15% of respondents use archived websites as a resource in their teaching.
The Library is committed to learning and development and is pleased with this finding as it shows there is a place for archived websites in the research and learning environment and bodes well for the potential future use of the New Zealand Web Archive.
The current search method for accessing the New Zealand Web Archive is not meeting the needs of New Zealand researchers. The respondent’s opinions regarding searching and accessing archived websites varied little from those who had used a web archive before, and those who had not. Full text searching was by far the preferred option; this is an opportunity for the Library which does not currently offer full text searching of the New Zealand Web Archive. URL searching was the least preferred and although this is predominately used by the Internet Archive, they are signalling a move away from this means of access.
The New Zealand domain harvest holds an unrealised potential for researchers who also want access to this content via a full text search. The Library is now fully aware of the researcher desire for this information and is looking into the options for making the domain harvests available.
The majority of respondents believed archives of social media would be useful to their research at some point, or else did not know; unsurprising given this is unchartered territory. Only a small minority disagreed with the usefulness that archives of social media would be for research. Video channels and discussion forums are considered the most valuable areas of social media to be included in an archive. While archiving video content embedded on a website is currently beyond the capabilities of the Library, there is clear evidence of researcher demand for this content that the Library needs to respond to.
The lack of precedent for archives of personal identity channels and microblogs is likely a factor why these were not considered much value to researchers. Furthermore, recent cyber security attacks and online privacy concerns have likely influenced the lack of enthusiasm for this content. The Library needs to improve its social media archive capability as the data shows that the researcher demand for this information is now, rather than in the future.
Perhaps the most compelling finding is that 51% of researchers indicated that the New Zealand Web Archive will be important for their research within the next five years. During the initial years of developing New Zealand’s web archive capacity and capability (1999-2010), it was often stated that the activity was not for current researchers, but for our future generations to use as a resource to understand the present. As such, the emphasis has been placed on collecting and preserving, over improving discovery, access and usability. The results of this survey not only show that there’s a demand that is current, but more is wanted and expected from this unique resource in the very near future. When it comes to the history of the New Zealand web, the academic community are telling us that the future is now.
Develop an active promotion strategy for the New Zealand Web Archive. Promotion should be pushing the use of the New Zealand Web Archive for both research and teaching purposes. To date there has been no targeted promotion of the New Zealand Web Archive, and respondents have shown considerable confusion regarding access to the New Zealand Web Archive and access to other items in the National Library’s collection.
Clarity and consistency within the Library on the definition of an archived website compared to other archived items available online. Particular care needs to be given when distinguishing the difference between a web archive (of websites) and an archive of items that have been digitised and are available on the web. Internal clarity and consistency in terms will flow on to how we talk about the collection externally.
Full text search capability of archived websites to be implemented in the New Zealand Web Archive. Full text searching was clearly the most preferred access method across all respondents for accessing both archived websites and the domain harvests.
Provide assistance with copyright information for researchers wanting to use archived websites in their research and teaching. This information is currently available on the Library website but access to it could be clearer.
Further research and exploration on the relationship between libraries and archives in terms of web archiving. The National Library has an existing MOU with Archives New Zealand on collecting government websites. However further research on how the different purposes of a government archive (evidence and accountability perspectives) and a national library (cultural heritage perspectives) view the uses, value and purposes of web archives could influence what is collected and how it is presented to researchers.
Experiment with archiving and providing access to archives of publically available social media. There is now quantifiable evidence of a demand from the New Zealand academic community for archives of social media. Investment is required to build capacity and capability in this area. Working with collegial institutions (like the British Library, the Library of Congress and the Internet Archive), could limit the necessary investment while still achieving the desired outcomes.
Focus on discussion forums as part of the Library’s priorities. The Library has recently expanded its collecting of discussion forums for the online gaming community, however there’s now evidence of should expand to discussion forums and discussion content for other community and social phenomena.
The domain harvests to be made accessible online, with full text search capability.
Develop a strategy and implementation plan for the Library to be prepared for the expected increased demand and use of the New Zealand Web Archive over the coming five years.
Repeat the study, preferably through collaboration with Victoria University of Wellington, in 3-5 years.
Costa, Miguel, and Mario J Silva. “Understanding the Information Needs of Web Archive Users.” Proceedings of the International Web Archiving Workshop IWAW 2010. Vienna, Austria, 2010. 9-16.
Dougherty, Meghan, Eric Meyer, Christine Madsen, Charles van den Heuvel, Arthur Thomas, and Sally Wyatt. Researcher Engagement with Web Archives: State of the Art. London: JISC, 2010.
Jackson, Andrew. “Building a 'Historical Search Engine' is no easy thing.” UK Web Archive Blog. 19 February 2015. http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/webarchive/2015/02/building-a-historical-search-engine-is-no-easy-thing.html (accessed February 24, 2015).
Ras, Marcel, and Sara van Bussel. Web Archiving User Survey. The Hague: National Library of the Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek), 2007.
Reyes Ayala, Brenda. Web Archiving Bibliography. Denton: UNT Libraries, 28 June 2013.
Stirling, Peter, Philippe Chevallier, and Gidas Illien. “Web Archives for Researchers: Representations, Expectations and Potential Uses.” The Magazine of Digital Library Research 18, no. 3/4 (March/April 2012).