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Web archiving - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does the German National Library collect websites?

When the Law regarding the German National Library, passed on 22 June 2006, came into force (BGB1. I P. 1338), the German National Library received the task of collecting, cataloguing, indexing and archiving non-physical media works (online publications). The collection mandate of the German National Library therefore also includes websites. Click here for further information on the  collection of online publications.

How are websites collected?

The German National Library has appointed a service provider to collect selected websites using an automatic procedure (web harvesting). The procedure is based on using a start URL of a website. All the linked content there is saved, except for any links to external domains. This procedure is used to obtain snapshots of the site.

Which websites does the German National Library collect?

The German National Library takes a selective approach to harvesting. The focus is initially on the websites of selected institutions (e.g. federal authorities, interest groups, cultural institutions etc.) and on websites dedicated to specific events (e.g. the federal elections in 2013). Websites on other areas are to be added in the future.

How often are websites harvested?

Websites are constantly changed, meaning that they have to be harvested at regular intervals. The frequency can be determined for each individual website depending e.g. on how often the content is changed and on the relevance of the content. At present the default frequency is quarterly.

How can I use the archived websites?

For legal reasons, most objects can only be used in the German National Library's reading rooms. The websites can then be accessed either through the catalogue or via a separate web archive. All the harvested snapshots of a website can be accessed from the catalogue.

Archived Web pages for which rights holders have granted global access can be searched in the catalogue under Location: "Online (free access)" and Material type: "Website".

Do I need to register my own website with the German National Library?

The selection of websites is currently made by German National Library staff based on defined formal and content-based criteria. Website operators do not need to actively register the website with the German National Library. The possibility of nominating websites for archiving is, however, currently being considered.

Are social networks such as Facebook, Twitter etc. also collected?

Where technically feasible, selected pages from social networks regarding special events may also be collected. There are no plans for the general collection of content from social networks.

Last update: 17.03.2015

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