Panel: Opportunities and challenges in collecting and studying national webs

Niels Brügger, Ditte Laursen, Friedel Geeraert, Kees Teszelszky, Valérie Schafer, Daniel Gomes

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


A key issue for web archivists (particularly in national libraries) and for scholars alike is the meaning of the national web. Archivists working with legal deposit must work with a definition of their national web, which may be based on the ccTLD, but also on domain registration, the location of servers and/or other criteria. Scholars must then interpret those archives in the light of those definitions. Others studying nations without such legal frameworks face different challenges in working with archives compiled on a selective basis, or with materials held in multiple archives.

This panel brings together several of the contributors to The Historical Web and Digital Humanities: The Case of National Webs, (Routledge, 2019, edited by Niels Brügger and Ditte Laursen.) After briefly summarising their own contribution, they will discuss together the particular challenges of defining and then collecting the national web, and on studying the national web with the resulting archives.

The panel will be introduced, moderated and concluded by Niels Brügger/Ditte Laursen and Peter Webster.

Ditte Laursen (Royal Library, Denmark) investigates how a corpus to support historical study of a national web can be established within national web archives, which usually hold several versions of the same web entity. Examining different datasets from the Danish national web archive 2005–2015, and the different ways these are handled, she demonstrates significant differences between results, with possible implications for research.

The Belgian web is currently not systematically archived. Sally Chambers (Ghent University) presents PROMISE, a research project into the feasibility of a sustainable web archiving service for Belgium. She traces the history of the Belgian web from the establishment of the .be domain in 1988 to the present, situating it in its historical, political, and legal context.

Kees Teszelsky (KB, Netherlands) explores the research opportunities of the Dutch national web for future historians by describing the development and unique characteristics of the Dutch national web. Using traditional historical methods and web archaeology, much historic data can be reconstructed, even though the KB web archive started only in 2007.

Valérie Schafer (University of Luxembourg) draws on the experience of the French Web90 project to show the approaches, tools and methodologies used to sketch a broad historical picture of the French web during the 1990s, and the challenges the project faced.

Peter Webster (Webster Research and Consulting Ltd, UK) outlines his chapter on the web estate of Irish churches. Though geographically concentrated in particular parts of the island, these churches’ web estate is dispersed across several ccTLDs and gTLDs. If this case study were matched elsewhere, it would suggests that the ccTLD is a weak proxy for the national web.

No organisation has formal, ongoing responsibility of whole-domain archiving for .eu, one of the largest and most popular European top-level domains, Daniel Gomes ( presents an overview of archiving activities related to .eu, including the only known effort to date to archive the entire domain. He also proposes a number of options for sustainable, long-term archiving for .eu.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventIIPC General Assembly and Web Archiving Conference 2019 - Hotel Westin Zabreb, Zagreb, Croatia
Duration: 5 Jun 20197 Jun 2019


ConferenceIIPC General Assembly and Web Archiving Conference 2019
LocationHotel Westin Zabreb

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