Web pages have an average lifespan of 77 days, meaning documentation of historical events can vanish with a single click. Critically important documents are moving exclusively to the internet, and the California Digital Library is working closely with academics to preserve web-based information before updates erase current events.
A $2.4 million grant issued by the Library of Congress, aimed at saving and archiving federal and local government online information, also helped the California Digital Library (CDL) to launch www.webarchives.cdlib.org, which stores sites documenting events such as the developing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center or the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election.
"There’s an inherent vulnerability of web information," said Tracy Seneca, the digital library’s web archiving service manager, adding that historians and professors should not rely on "accidental preservation" of web sites that sit dormant for years.
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