Orange Shirt Day Display

In honour of Orange Shirt Day on September 30, Xwi7xwa Library is highlighting materials in our collection with related themes: the residential school experience, healing journeys of the survivors and their families, and the ongoing process of reconciliation. Our materials on these topics include a range of formats (books, DVDs, government reports, graphic novels, and more), created for diverse audiences, including children, teachers, and scholars, Indigenous community members and non-Indigenous allies. To find these materials at Xwi7xwa, search “Residential schools” on our online catalogue and filter by Location: Xwi7xwa Library, or try searching for subject headings starting with First Nations–Residential schools. Our research guide on the Indian Residential School System in Canada is another excellent resource. As always, you’re welcome to come by Xwi7xwa to browse our shelves, check out our display, or ask us for help!

Estimates put the current size of the internet at around 1.2 million terabytes and 150 billion pages. Sites go up, sites come down, pages are removed, content changes continuously. And an increasing amount of this information is available only online. You might not care if you can no longer access the comments about watching someone’s grass grow, but you may be concerned one day to find that a political candidate no longer has their statement of opposition on an important local topic up on their campaign website – a statement that you desperately need for your research.

Fortunately much of the content on the web today is captured by the Internet Archive, which harvests and makes available web content through its Wayback Machine. Sites are crawled by the Wayback Machine for archiving on an irregular schedule; depending on a variety of factors such as how heavily a site is linked, the Internet Archive web crawlers may crawl a site several times a day – or only once every few months. Web content can change so frequently that unless you can specify exactly when the content on a specific site is captured, there is a chance that information will be lost forever. The Wayback Machine does what it can, but it has billions of web pages to try to crawl.

Enter Archive-it. Archive-it is a subscription web archiving service that the Internet Archive created in order to give organizations like the UBC Library the ability to harvest, build, and preserve, collections of digital content on demand. This service gives us control over what we crawl and how often, and allows us to apply the metadata that will permit users to find our archived web content more easily. And information can now be pulled out of our collections for analysis using Archive-it’s API. The sites we harvest are available on our institution’s Archive-it home page, and are added to the Wayback Machine’s own site crawls so that our information is full text searchable, and freely available to anyone in the world at any time.

We started web archiving in 2013, when a group of university libraries – including UBC – began crawling the Canadian federal government websites collaboratively in order to capture content important to Canadians that was scheduled for removal online. Since then, we have created nine collections of archived web content, with three more under active development. These collections are representative of the research interests of UBC and its community, and include such topics as the BC Hydro Site C Dam project and First Nations and Indigenous Communities websites, as well as the University of British Columbia websites themselves.

Over the next few weeks we will be exploring some aspects of our web archiving work at UBC, and will hear from some of our library partners and past students who have done work in the area. Stay tuned for posts on developing web archiving projects, archiving government web content, and the technical limitations of web archiving.

See all posts related to web archiving:


By Larissa Ringham, Digital Projects Librarian

Nearing retirement, Eleanore Wellwood is in an interesting position when it comes to reflecting on her time at UBC, especially since that time spans more than fifty years.

Coming on board initially as a student assistant in 1966, then again in the late 1980s, Eleanore tried out a few different career paths before falling into library work. “All my academic career had been heading into international relations until I realized what it was like to be a diplomat, and I knew that wasn’t for me,” she recalls. “I wanted to do something more practical. So when I came back to UBC, it was in nutrition and food science, until I realized that in order to do anything with that, you need to go through to the PhD level.”

Instead, the Library became a welcome alternative and a comfortable fit. “I come from an academic family. Books have always been part of my life, so it wasn’t a big leap.” Starting in the 1990s until 2007, Eleanore worked as a library assistant at Interlibrary Loans and Woodward Library, before moving to Crane Library in Brock Hall, which provides resources for UBC students, faculty and staff who are blind, visually impaired, or have print disabilities.

“When I was at Crane—which I loved as well—I’d reached the point where I was close enough to retirement that I thought I would either stay there until I retired or I would make a change in my life,” she says. “All the retirement books keep saying that the worst thing about retiring is you don’t know what to do with yourself, or you’re not willing to try something new. So I thought it was now or never.”

When the position of Cataloging and Acquisitions Assistant came up at X̱wi7x̱wa Library, she decided to make a move once again. It was a huge learning curve, she remembers. “I’m from Vancouver but not Indigenous, so everything I’m learning is piling on as more and more learning.”

In her day-to-day work, she is involved in record enhancing, investigating, teaching and supervising graduate academic assistants. “We have the privilege and pleasure of enhancing the standard records so that they better reflect Indigenous approaches to knowledge.”

Now, after nearly a decade at X̱wi7x̱wa Library, Eleanore is faced with a new dilemma. “My problem is that I really love my job, so it’s hard to say that I am retiring,” she says. “It’s never the same, it’s always interesting.”

She recalls one project in particular that began shortly after she arrived at X̱wi7x̱wa, which put her cataloguing skills to the test. “When the library changed from DRA to Voyager, all our subject headings became ‘unsearchable’,” she says. “In terms of the project, it meant retyping every subject heading. But it also gave us the opportunity to examine them.” Luckily, she didn’t have to do most of the retyping, but got to dive into the examining.

When asked what has surprised her the most about UBC Library, she laughs. “When working for the library comes upon you gradually, nothing is surprising.”

Learn more about the programs and collections at X̱wi7x̱wa Library.

Eleanore Wellwood is one of UBC Library’s 2018 Employee Recognition Award winners, receiving the Unsung Hero Award for her outstanding work. Read more about the awards and this year’s recipients.

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