UK Web Archive – general elections and social media.

A couple of interesting posts from the UK Web Archive blog of the work going on to make sure that content is captured for future generations and highlighting problems that are faced by curators.

What websites do we collect during UK general elections looks at the archiving of previous elections and highlights the fact that the 2017 General Election was called at short notice so curators have a much shorter time frame to capture content than in previous elections.

The challenges of web archiving social media,  interesting to note that, ‘ no two platforms are the same and require a tailored approach to ensure a successful crawl’. Which when you consider how many social media platforms are out there shows how much work goes on behind the scenes to make sure any archival work is successful.

Hannah Chandler, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford


Tweets and videos in the UK Government Web Archive

Did you know from May 2014  The National Archives began to archive tweets and You Tube videos published by UK central government departments from their official Twitter and YouTube social media platforms. There is already a substantial archive of material dating from 2006 captured during a two year pilot project.

Videos can be filtered by year of creation and there is a search facility, as for example, videos from HM Treasury

Tweets are arranged in a date span but cannot be searched, as for example, tweets from the Home Office

Where tweets contain web links these should be operational as long as they are within the UK Government Web Archive. Retweets are not archived as are tweets for non-government organisations that form a conversation. Web links within tweets that are not part of the UK Government Web Archive will receive a 404 or 410 error message that will allow users to see the destination of a link. This may then enable users to search for that link elsewhere.

For more information see the ‘Using the social media archive‘ section on the National Archives ‘Information on web archiving‘ page.

Hannah Chandler, Official Papers Librarian, Bodleian Libraries

Collecting and Access to Government Information: the Scottish Perspective


There is no doubt that the political landscape in Scotland has changed after the 2015 General Election: the way that government information is created and delivered in Scotland has been changing for many years; and the 2014 Referendum on Scottish independence has created a greater public interest in Scottish politics as never before. By increasing the use of digital technology government departments can make their publications more widely available in various formats and of course reduce their expenditure.

The Scottish Government back in early 2012 was the first UK Government administration to make an official publication available in digital download format for devices such as iPad and Kindle with the publication of Your Scotland, Your Referendum as an e-book.

These changing formats have put pressure on the Legal Deposit Libraries who aim to collect, preserve and make accessible this information.

As the Scottish Government was producing e-only publications well before the Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print Works) Regulations came into force in April 2013 the National Library of Scotland, under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Scottish Government, worked closely with its Digital Team to ensure that all of its e -publications were collected and accessible through the National Library of Scotland’s Online Public Access Catalogue.

The Scottish Parliament, as part of its current Digital Parliament Project, will be aiming for all its business publications to be published in digital format only from mid 2015. These will all be archived and made available via the National Library of Scotland as well as being available on the live Scottish Parliament website.

As the Curator responsible for ensuring that all of this material is collected comprehensively by the NLS, my experience is that it is crucial to liaise with the bodies involved at an early stage in their transition from print to electronic. This ensures that the process of receiving this material can be as automated and seamless as possible. Once collected we can then make this material available to the other legal deposit libraries throughout the UK.

As well as collecting individual digital publications we are harvesting web sites as part of the UK Web Archive project, which has unrestricted access as well as the Legal Deposit Web Archive which is accessible in any of the Legal Deposit Libraries.

Due to the disparate nature of official publishing these days, there is more of a need than ever before for networking groups for information professional working with government information. The Scottish Working Forum on Official Publications (SWOP) and the CILIP ISG Standing Committee On Official Publications work to ensure dissemination of information amongst the profession, respond to consultations and provide training and support across libraries in the UK.

SWOP was formed in 1989 to produce a directory of holdings of official publications in Scotland. The Directory still exists in an updated format and is available on the SWOP website. Our SWOP Blog provides a mechanism for sharing a diverse range of news items connected with government information. We also hope to produce short training guides to assist those working with government information which we intend adding to our website in the future.

As well as our website we have a twitter account, a closed discussion group on the Knowledge Hub and a JISCmail email account in order to connect with a wide range of audiences. Membership of SWOP is open to anyone who has an interest in official publications. It provides a great opportunity for professional development or portfolio work for Chartership. Please do contact SWOP if you would like more information about the group or get involved in any of the work that we are engaged in.

This article first appeared in referisg, summer 2015

Fiona Laing, Official Publications Curator, National Library of Scotland