6th November 2020

The BNE expands its Archive of the Spanish Web with a special collection dedicated to COVID-19

The collaboration of the National Library of Spain with the regional libraries of the Autonomous Communities, within the framework of the Library Cooperation Council, makes possible one of the most important collections of websites of the moment.

The history, culture, and society of our time are written today on the Internet, on web pages, in Twitter comments, in Facebook articles, in blog posts and it is indispensable documentation for researchers and historians of the future. . They will be the ones to write about how the pandemic associated with the COVID-19 virus has changed our lives, our way of relating, social norms, political rules or economic structures.

A collaborative project at the service of research

The BNE began selecting websites on the emergence and spread of the Coronavirus in mid-February 2020, responding to the call of the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC). But as the situation worsened, he started his own collection, much more exhaustive, on March 10.

Thanks to the collaboration with regional libraries, selective collections of web pages are carried out periodically with crawler robots that go through the previously selected URLs and save everything they find linked. Thus, sites that would otherwise disappear when the crisis passes, are already part of one of the largest sources of information on COVID-19.

The collection already has more than 5,000 websites, about 50 Terabytes of information, with official pages (public bodies, political parties, media …), sites arising from citizen and neighbourhood initiatives, family activities, memes … more of a thousand profiles and topics of social networks. To this selection are added videos, press conferences, national and regional health campaigns, interviews with virologists and scientists … For the BNE, the help of the Department of Music and Audiovisuals has been especially important, which has provided more than 700 websites with a wide selection of audios and videos, musicals, stories … created during the pandemic and that deal with the coronavirus.

This information can be consulted at the National Library and the regional libraries through openwayback , a particular time machine that takes you to the sites as they appear on the web “alive”. As the owners of the rights of all this content are its creators or authors, libraries can only consult it in the room, on specific computers and within our facilities and those of the regional libraries.

The Archive of the Spanish Web at the BNE

What is published on the Internet, especially ephemeral information, has been subject to conservation since 2009. The BNE, by law, aims to preserve this Spanish documentary heritage (blogs, forums, documents, images, videos, etc.), so that it does not get lost, and guarantee access to it.

The Archive of the Spanish Web is a project in which the BNE and the conservation centers of the autonomous communities collaborate, for the collection and conservation of websites (hosted in the .es domain, as well as in other generic domains and subdomains. com, .edu, .gob, .org, .net, etc.). These are archived thanks to a “collector” software called Heritrix, which navigates the web by clicking on all the links and saving everything it finds in its path (images, text, video, audio …).

Due to the enormous size of the Internet and the technological means that we currently have, in order to store the largest possible amount of web information, the National Library of Spain combines massive and selective collections, as do other national libraries in the world. The BNE has already carried out several selective collections on events relevant to Spanish history and culture, such as the death of Adolfo Suárez, the abdication of Juan Carlos I and the proclamation of Felipe VI, and all electoral processes since 2014, among others.

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