The British Library is expanding its work to archive and preserve the UK’s rich and diverse online publishing.
The library already archives sites through its UK Web Archive project but so far has only archived sites with the permission of the site owners.
However new rules coming into effect this weekend allow the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, the Bodleian Libraries, Cambridge University Library and Trinity College Library Dublin to archive every UK website, blog and ebook published on a .UK domain.
This means the UK’s digital output will be treated the same way, and be seen to have the same cultural significance, as printed books, magazines and newspapers.
Around 4.8 million websites hosted on .UK domains will initially be archived.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP said: “Preserving and maintaining a record of everything that has been published provides a priceless resource for the researchers of today and the future.
“So it’s right that these long-standing arrangements have now been brought up to date for the 21st century, covering the UK’s digital publications for the first time.”
Archiving the UK’s web means future generations will have access to an unprecedented level of contemporary publishing from both professional and non-professional writers.
“Ten years ago, there was a very real danger of a black hole opening up and swallowing our digital heritage, with millions of web pages, e-publications and other non-print items falling through the cracks of a system that was devised primarily to capture ink and paper,” said Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library.
“The regulations now coming into force make digital legal deposit a reality, and ensure that the Legal Deposit Libraries themselves are able to evolve – collecting, preserving and providing long-term access to the profusion of cultural and intellectual content appearing online or in other digital formats.”