The Internet has become a major venue for the sharing of culture and knowledge. A growing body of primary source material is being created digitally and distributed on the web. Yet because of the Internet’s fluid nature, often pages or entire websites can change or disappear without leaving a trace. In the Pacific Islands region, the ephemeral nature of the Internet is further compounded by the fact that governments, civil society, and businesses continue to actively phase out printed products in favor of online-only versions. In these cases, the loss of the digital version means a complete loss of information. There is thus an ongoing need to track and archive web content, both as a historical record of this time and to recreate the web experience as it existed in this moment.
Web archiving refers to the activities of selecting, capturing, storing, preserving and managing access to snapshots of Internet resources over time. It is conceptually much the same work that is done by libraries and archives in collecting and preserving printed material in the form of books, printed records, or audio-visual material. Web archiving enables current and future researchers to have access to this new form of publishing and societal engagement.
Archiving of Pacific Island websites is currently being actively undertaken by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa's Hawaiian and Pacific Collections (UHM), the National Library of New Zealand (NLNZ), the National Library of Australia (NLA), and the United States Library of Congress (LoC). Since December 2012 UHM, NLNZ, and the NLA have been collaboratively working towards best practice and a complementary approach to Pacific web archiving. The LoC began Pacific web archiving in 2017.
Librarians in the Hawaiian and Pacific Collections at the University of Hawaii Manoa (UHM) have organized the Web Archiving Project of Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. Supported by the Archive-It project through the Internet Archive, this team has begun to build an archive of websites for the future use of our research community.
The UHM Hawaiian Collection focuses on websites and blogs related to cultural, social, and political movements in Hawaii, in particular the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. Other topics selected for include natural resources, census, media, hawaiian history and genealogy, government, tourism, and the US military presence in the state.
The UHM Pacific Collection selects websites and blogs from the Pacific Islands, about the Pacific Islands, and by Pacific Islanders. Our geographic scope includes all countries and territories within the cultural areas of Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia. We include the websites of Pacific Island governments, civil society, local media, instiutions of higher education, and some important businesses. We also make an effort to record the voices of the Pacific diaspora in a variety of forms. We attempt to cover all subjects, including governance, politics, law, art, culture, history, natural resource management, science, environment, statistics, sport and recreation, and human rights.
Both the UHM Hawaiian and Pacific Collections also collect websites created around important events, such as the 2006 Fiji Coup, the 2009 Tsunami in Samoa, or the 2011 APEC conference in Honolulu.