CHARGE: The OCLC Research Library Partnership Web Archiving Metadata Working Group will evaluate existing and emerging approaches to descriptive metadata for archived websites and will recommend best practices to meet user needs and to ensure discoverability and consistency.

The Problem

Archived websites often are not easily discoverable via search engines or library and archives catalogs and finding aid systems, which inhibits use.

A 2015 survey of members of the OCLC Research Library Partnership revealed the lack of descriptive metadata guidelines as the biggest challenge related to website archiving among this cohort. The second most-cited challenge is to learn about the needs of users who seek to use website content in their work.  

Review of existing guidelines, as well as sampling of descriptions in WorldCat and ArchiveGrid, reveals widely variable practice. This can be traced, at least in part, to the fact that some characteristics of websites are not addressed by existing descriptive rules such as RDA (Resource Description and Access) and DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard). Some record creators follow bibliographic traditions, while others use an archival approach, such as describing multiple sites in one record. Sometimes the two approaches are blended.

Addressing the Problem

The Working Group will study archival and bibliographic description practices for archived websites, consider when each approach might be most appropriately used, and determine how the two might be made compatible. We will keep in mind that metadata is sometimes repurposed for reuse in a variety of different tools and contexts. We will also consider issues related to description of archived websites in relation to live/active sites.

In the coming months, members of the Working Group will:

  1. Finalize the issues to be addressed.
  2. Perform desk research to learn about user needs and behavior relative to websites to inform our approach to defining best practices for descriptive metadata.
  3. Develop best practices for metadata, informed by the study of existing guidelines for describing archived websites--such as those developed by the Program on Cooperative Cataloging, the New York Art Resources Consortium, and a variety of individual institutions.
  4. Study the published literature and online sources to identify metadata issues identified by researchers in the field.
  5. Informally sample and evaluate existing descriptions of archived websites in WorldCat (MARC records), ArchiveGrid (MARC records and finding aids), Archive-It, and other sources.
  6. Investigate available tools for web archiving and the ways in which they enable production of descriptive metadata.

The full working group will meet monthly via WebEx. Subgroups will undertake specific tasks and report their findings to the group. We have tentatively targeted January 2017 to complete the work.

We will liaise with other groups that are active and influential in the web archiving sphere of practice. These include the Web Archiving Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists, the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC), and the Internet Archive.

Projected Outcomes

We will develop best practices that bridge existing approaches to description of archived websites. These will enable practitioners to create appropriate metadata consistently and with confidence that they are following community practice. Best practices will also benefit users by increasing discoverability through consistency of metadata and by providing contextual information that meets identified needs.

A report on user needs will inform community-wide understanding of documented user needs and behaviors as evidence to underlie the best practices for metadata for archived sites.


Most recent updates: Page content: 2016-03-10


Web Archiving Metadata Working Group

Jackie Dooley

Dennis Massie

Trevor Alvord
Brigham Young University

Alexis Antracoli
Princeton University

Penny Baker
Clark Art Institute

Kate Bowers
Harvard University

Evan Echols
University of Delaware

Karen Stoll Farrell
Indiana University

Rick Fitzgerald
Library of Congress

Ben Goldman
Pennsylvania State University

Rebecca Guenther

Claudia Horning
University of California, Los Angeles

Chad Hutchens
University of Wyoming

Deborah Kempe
Frick Art Reference Library

Tammi Kim
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Jason Kovari
Cornell University

Rosalie Lack
California Digital Library

Eilidh MacGlone
National Library of Scotland

Matthew McKinley
University of California, Irvine

Allison O’Dell
University of Florida

Anchalee (Joy) Panigabutra-Roberts
American University in Cairo

Dallas Pillen
University of Michigan

Lily Pregill
New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC)

Mary Samouelian
Harvard Business School

Aislinn Sotelo
University of California, San Diego

Alex Thurman
Columbia University

Jessica Venlet
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Olga Virakhovskaya
University of Michigan