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Libraries are constantly discussing and reevaluating the very purpose of the institution to meet the needs of the community and to keep up with technology in a constantly changing digital age. For The British Library, one of the most important things a library can do in the modern age is keep a cultural record of the times. In order to do this, the library has plans in place to collect public tweets and Facebook pages, as well as information from billions of webpages with domains located in the UK.
The British Library has actually collected this sort of material over the years; however, according to The Guardian, the project is revving up in full force now, thanks to a Parliament decision relating to copyright of Internet collection of such materials. Information in the digital age can disappear as quickly as it pops up, and The British Library hopes to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future, according to the library’s Lucie Burgess.
"If you want a picture of what life is like today in the UK you have to look at the web. We have already lost a lot of material, particularly around events such as the 7/7 London bombings or the 2008 financial crisis."
The whole project sounds pretty labor intensive, but the library says it hopes to reach a billion screenshots in the coming year. While plenty of UK sites are fair game, sites based in other countries or offering copyrighted content, like YouTube, will still be strictly prohibited. The library says it hopes to collect as many images as possible, rather than collecting a balanced and relevant collection—it will be up to those who visit to decide what materials they believe are relevant.
You can read more via The British Library’s website.