Friday, April 11, 2008

Shame on the National Archives!

From govwatch comes this article about the National Archives and Records Administration's decision not to record snapshots of Executive Branch websites at the end of each presidential administration. Much as I would like to forget that the current administration ever existed, I have to question NARA's priorities. NARA has apparently decided to rely on the fact that archiving sites such as the Internet Archive are preserving federal information. As the article points out, the "last Executivie Branch web harvest that NARA conducted [in 2004 and of congressional sites in 2006] preserved 75 million web pages, many [of] which will be valuable records for historians in the coming decades. The Internet Archive may cease to exist in 10 years, but the archives will only grow more valuable with time. Not capturing federal web sites now may mean losing millions of web pages authored under the Bush administration when leadership changes in January 2009." It is particularly unfortunate that NARA has made this short-sighted decision given that the current administration is likely to be fodder for historians and poliltical scientists far into the future. A commentator on the article points out, however, that NARA is not the culprit. Rather, it is Congress and the Bush Administration who establish funding for NARA.

Thanks to Gail Whittemore, Government Documents and Reference Librarian at Pace Law Library, for bringing this article to my attention.

1 comment:

Kate T. said...

For anyone who would like more background on this issue, I've posted a discussion over at my blog, ArchivesNext, "NARA and the web harvest: a discussion of the issues." You can find it at