Archiving the University Web


Thanks to combined support from the University of Scranton’s Academic Affairs and Planning and Information Resources divisions, the Weinberg Memorial Library has partnered with Archive-It (a subscription service from nonprofit Internet Archive) to capture and preserve University-related websites for the enduring future.

Part of the Weinberg Memorial Library’s mission is to “preserve and promote the history of the University,” and our University Archives has long collected and preserved photographs, documents, and other records from the past.

Increasingly, though, our students, faculty, and staff communicate using dynamic digital media instead of paper or film. For example, the University’s undergraduate catalog is no longer a print publication but a database, and instead of finding printed newsletters in our mailboxes, we get our weekly University news digitally via Royal News. And unfortunately, this kind of web content is surprisingly vulnerable to digital degradation and loss over the long term.

We could preserve a paper version of that dynamic information (say, by printing out Royal News each week) or take a PDF or image screenshot of it, but in doing so we’d lose its interactivity and searchability. Ideally, in the future we’ll want to be able to access archived web content the same way we access it now — that is, by browsing and searching.

That’s where web archiving comes in. Archive-It’s web archiving service allows us to crawl and capture web pages in ways that preserve their dynamic and functional aspects – including active links and embedded media like images, videos, animations, and PDF documents.

We’re certainly not the first ones to recognize the importance of web archiving in higher education. 97 other colleges & universities have already signed on with Archive-It, including fellow Jesuit universities Georgetown, Creighton, and Marquette, and fellow Pennsylvania schools Penn State, Drexel, and Bucknell. Several universities have created web archives that document important topics or events, like the American University in Cairo’s January 25th Revolution project or the University of Virginia’s collection of web and social media content relating to the resignation and reinstatement of President Teresa Sullivan.

Here at the Weinberg we plan to focus our early web archiving efforts on our own University web content (like our main website and our athletics site) and the University-related social media sites (like our YouTube channel and many Facebook pages) where our community shares its stories. Over time, as we develop expertise (and hopefully secure recurring funding!), we’ll work with faculty to identify and explore the possibility of collecting external websites relevant to current and future scholarship at the University of Scranton.

Our first step, though, is to seek input from our campus community regarding what is most important to preserve for the future. We invite members of the University community to send us questions, concerns, or suggestions. Take a peek at our first experimental crawls, and let us know if you’d like to be involved in web archiving at the University of Scranton!

Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine has some snapshots of the University website dating back to 1998. With Archive-It, we can periodically and systematically capture and preserve the entire University website – and any other related web content our community needs.

Go Green with GoodGuide

The Weinberg Memorial Library has been working hard lately to make sure that our building is as sustainable as possible.  We set up a green team, we’ve upgraded our lights with more energy-efficient bulbs, and we’re really pushing recycling.

But the Library faculty and staff have also been chatting lately about the best ways that we can go green in our personal lives.  Many of us have started carrying reusable water bottles and coffee mugs instead of using disposable cups.  Some of us have switched to buying recycled paper towels and napkins for our homes.  The more you think about going green, though, the more confusing it can get.  A lot of products these days advertise themselves as green, but which ones are really best for the environment?

Enter GoodGuide, a website created by a University of California-Berkeley professor of environmental policy that rates commonly used products on how environmentally friendly and healthy they are. GoodGuide uses a pretty intense methodology to examine each product, from its contents to the impact of its manufacturing processes.  But they also translate that information into scores that are easy for consumers to understand, and their website makes it easy to compare product types across brands.  (For example, I compared brands of contact solution – only to find out that the product I’ve been using for years got one of the worst rankings!)

GoodGuide's picks for the best and worst toothpastes

GoodGuide is a “B Corporation,” which means that it’s a for-profit company that has made a public commitment to environmentalism and social justice.  The company makes money by selling its analysis results back to manufacturers or retailers who want to use it for market research or to improve their products (see this recent Newsweek article on GoodGuide’s business strategy).  So their business depends on the accuracy of their information, which makes me feel a little more comfortable trusting their website.  I also like that if you want more information about a product, you can drill down to see how GoodGuide assigned its score and get details on how the ingredients and life cycle assessment were judged.  And of course I’m excited to try GoodGuide’s free iPhone app – you can scan barcodes of products to get environmental ratings on the go, while you’re shopping.

So take a second to search for some of your favorite brands – you might find that a greener option is just another step down the grocery aisle!

New Library Website

Exciting news for our Library website users (which, considering our online catalog and databases, must be all of you):

The Library’s entire website has undergone a redesign, with an official launch date of Monday, August 23rd.

It has been a busy summer here in the Library, spent revising and redesigning how we offer our services via the Library website. We believe the new website meets all of our goals for functionality and service. All of the functionality you are used to is still available and clearly named, it just may be in a new location. The new website should also be easier to navigate, so we expect this transition to be a helpful one for the entire University community.

In the meantime, it is possible that when you visit our website this weekend, you will begin to see our new web pages as we roll them out.

A sneak peak of what to expect when you visit our Library home page on the first day of Fall classes. Click to enlarge.

For those of you more accustomed to accessing our resources via the Library tab in, the layout of that page remains the same.

If you have any questions, or wish to provide feedback or suggestions about the new Library website (And please do–we welcome it!), please email us at or leave us a comment here.

Thank you for your cooperation and support during this important transition!