DENTON, Texas (UNT) – As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office, President Obama-era federal websites will find a new home at the University of North Texas.
Called the End of Term Archive, the collection is an archive of past White House websites collected every four years by UNT Libraries, in partnership with the Library of Congress and the Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library. The archive will include sites for the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare,” and the DREAM Act, which gives undocumented children a path to citizenship. Both programs could become obsolete, or undergo vast changes, under President Trump.
“Presidential themes, platforms and priorities are outlined in great detail on these websites,” said Mark Phillips, associate dean for UNT’s Digital Libraries. “These websites must be kept alive to preserve our history and provide researchers around the world with an important snapshot in time.”
The End of Term Archive began in 2008, near the end of the Bush administration, when librarians and researchers realized websites affiliated with the administration were at risk of disappearing. UNT was well positioned to contribute, as it was home to the CyberCemetery, an archive of government websites that had ceased operation, often from defunct government agencies and commissions. The most notable site is the 9/11 Commission Report.
“As websites were going black, we realized history was being lost,” Phillips said. “The CyberCemetery allows the work to live on and remain accessible to the public.”
UNT is currently harvesting websites for the End of Term Archive and plans to complete the project by spring 2017. In addition to the Library of Congress and the Internet Archive, California Digital Libraries, the Government Publishing Office, Stanford University and the George Washington University have joined the collaboration. The Internet Archive will host the public access copy of the archive, and UNT will also host a copy for data analysis and research.
“This is a really incredible collection of information and history,” Phillips said. “We think of it as a sort of internet time machine for government information.”
To strengthen the collection process, UNT librarians developed a URL nomination tool, which allows people to suggest particular websites be preserved, enabling the collaborative collection of information. To nominate a site, go to http://digital2.library.unt.edu/nomination/eth2016/