Making Connections to Preserve the Digital Past

For the past few years, the Iowa State University Library has subscribed to the Archive-It service for the long-term preservation of university web content.  Archive-It is a web site preservation program that allows institutions to select and permanently capture html-based web pages. Created by Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive, the goal of Archive-It is to save born-digital information on web sites and to serve as a web archiving tool.

In 2008, Archive-It introduced a special program designed for K-12 students to preserve digital information.  The goal of the K-12 Web Archiving Program was to educate students about not only what web sites should be saved for future research, but how would you choose what to preserve?  Currently in its second year, 15 schools in 13 states participate in this competitive program which allows students to learn how to make these decisions and “help them to develop an awareness of how the Web content they choose will become primary sources for future historians studying our lives,” according to the program’s web site.

Special Collections and University Archives Head Tanya Zanish-Belcher saw the call, and forwarded the request on to Sarah Passonneau, Assistant to the ISU Library Dean and recommended that Ames Middle and High Schools consider applying.  Sarah worked with Dr. Lance Wilhelm (Technology Director at the Ames Community School District), to complete the application, and Ames was one of nine community schools selected for the project.

As Jayne Staniforth, an Extended Learning Program teacher at Ames Middle School, said  “My students view internet documents differently now. They are more aware of the continually changing nature of the Internet and the impact that has on history. They felt empowered to speak for their generation about what is important to them, what they value and how they communicate.”  She also noted the process showed that “their opinion mattered to a larger audience not just their peers.”   Middle school student Laura Graveline felt  “she realizes how important the internet is to our generation.”  Fellow student Moriah Cooper exclaimed, “It feels like what you were doing actually counted for something, because future generations will be able to see what was important to us.  It’s a record.”

Ames High School collections:

Ames Middle School collections:

For more information about Archive-It, see the vendor’s FAQ and additional information at To see ISU’s preserved web sites, please go to:

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