October 11, 2001 Library of Congress, Internet Archive, webarchivist.org and the Pew Internet & American Life Project Announce Sept. 11 Web Archive

Contact: Brewster Kahle, Alexa Internet (415) 561-6993 | Kirsten A. Foot, webArchivist.org (206) 954-6353 | Steven M. Schneider, webArchivist.org (315) 725-4273 | Lee Rainie, Pew Internet & American Life Project (202) 296-0019
Contact: Guy Lamolinara, Library of Congress (202) 707-9217

The Library of Congress, in collaboration with the Internet Archive, webArchivist.org and the Pew Internet & American Life Project, announces the release today of a collection of digital materials called the September 11 Web Archive, available at september11.archive.org.

The Archive preserves the Web expressions of individuals, groups, the press and institutions in the United States and from around the world in the aftermath of the attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. The Archive is important because it contributes to the historical record, capturing information that could otherwise be lost. With the growing role of the Web as an influential medium, records of historic events could be considered incomplete without materials that were "born digital" and never printed on paper. Because Web content changes at a very rapid pace, it is important to capture immediately the national and international response to these events before they disappear from the historical record.

Library of Congress staff have recommended the Web sites to be included in the Archive, just as they do for the physical collections of the Library.

"It is the job of a library to collect and make available these materials so that future scholars, educators and researchers can not only know what the official organizations of the day were thinking and reporting about the attacks on America on Sept. 11, but can read the unofficial, 'online diaries' of those who lived through the experience and shared their points of view," said Winston Tabb, Associate Librarian for Library Services. "Such sites are very powerful primary source materials."

"The Internet is as important as the print media for documenting these events," said Diane Kresh, the Library's Director of Public Service Collections. "Why? Because the Internet is immediate, far-reaching, and reaches a variety of audiences. You have everything from self-styled experts to known experts commenting and giving their viewpoint."

"The wonderful thing about the Web is that it's the world's perspective," said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive. "It's a forum for understanding other points of view, not just those in the traditional media."

"Traditionally, researchers have turned to books, letters, films and art to make sense of defining historical moments. But with the ubiquity of the Internet and electronic communication, scholars will also have to study Web sites to understand this recent act of destruction and carnage," said Steven M. Schneider, Associate Professor of Political Science at the SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome. Kirsten Foot, Assistant Professor of Communications at the University of Washington added, "There is the potential for a new level of civic activism emerging. There's been a huge surge in people feeling compelled to make statements about the events online. We see it everywhere online, and we want to preserve a record of it."

This collection will be the second large-scale collection of Web sites to be archived and made available online. In June 2001, the Library announced its Election 2000 Collection created to preserve open access Web materials pertaining to the November 2000 U.S. national election. The Election 2000 collection is available online at web.archive.org/collections/e2k.html.

The Library of Congress's mission is to make its resources available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations. Founded in 1800 to serve the reference needs of Congress, the Library of Congress is the world's largest library, with more than 121 million items in all formats on which information is recorded. The Library serves Congress and all Americans through its 21 reading rooms on Capitol Hill as well as through its popular Web site at www.loc.gov.

The Internet Archive (www.archive.org) is a 501(c)(3) public nonprofit organization that was founded to build an "Internet library," with the purpose of offering permanent access for researchers, historians and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format. Founded in 1996 and located in the Presidio of San Francisco, the Archive has been receiving data donations from Alexa Internet and others.

WebArchivist.org (www.webarchivist.org) is group of scholars and students, dedicated to developing tools and strategies for studying the ephemeral Web. The organization is co-directed by Professor Steven M. Schneider, a political scientist at the SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome, and Kirsten A. Foot, a communications scholar at the University of Washington.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project (www.pewinternet.org) creates and funds original, academic-quality research that explores the impact of the Internet on children, families, communities, the workplace, schools, health care and civil-political life. The Project, directed by Lee Rainie, aims to be an authoritative source for timely information on the Internet's growth and societal impact, through research that is impartial. Professors Schneider and Foot will serve as Research Fellows with the Project, and author reports examining the changing Web sphere following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


PR 01-150
ISSN 0731-3527