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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Saur September 6, 2017

Building a Living, Breathing Archive: A Review of Appraisal Theories and Approaches for Web Archives

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The paper provides a review of published literature on the collection and development of Web archives, focusing specifically on the theories, techniques, tools, and approaches used to appraise Web-based materials for inclusion in collections. Facing an enormous amount of Web-based materials, archival institutions and other cultural heritage institutions need to devise methods to actively select Webpages for preservation, creating Web archives that constitute a cultural record of the Web for the benefit of users. This review outlines the challenges of collecting and appraising Web-based materials, places the theories and activities of collecting Web-based materials within the broader discourse of archival appraisal, and points out directions for future research and critical discourse for Web archives.


My thanks to Barbara Wildemuth, Yuan Li, and Charlene Finley for their helpful feedback in ‑writing this article. I also want to thank the Preservation, Digital Technology & Culture editors and the peer reviewers for their valuable input.


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Colin Post

Colin Post is a doctoral student in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, where is also pursuing a Masters degree in Art History. His research focuses on the preservation, collection, and study of digital artworks, and in particular net-based art. He also holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Poetry from the University of Montana. More on his poetry and research can be found at

Published Online: 2017-9-6

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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