Niels Brügger, School of Communication and Culture – Media Studies, Aarhus University

Ditte Laursen, Royal Danish Library
Friedel Geeraert, State Archives and Royal Library of Belgium
Kees Teszelszky, KB – National Library of the Netherlands
Valérie Schafer, University of Luxembourg
Daniel Gomes, – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

Opportunities and challenges in collecting and studying national webs

A key issue for web archivists (particularly in national libraries) and for scholars alike is the meaning of the national web. Archivists working with legal deposit must work with a definition of their national web, which may be based on the ccTLD, but also on domain registration, the location of servers and/or other criteria. Scholars must then interpret those archives in the light of those definitions. Others studying nations without such legal frameworks face different challenges in working with archives compiled on a selective basis, or with materials held in multiple archives.

This panel brings together several of the contributors to ‘The Historical Web and Digital Humanities: The Case of National Webs’, (Routledge, 2019, edited by Niels Brügger and Ditte Laursen). After briefly summarising their own contribution, they will discuss together the particular challenges of defining and then collecting the national web, and on studying the national web with the resulting archives.

The panel will be introduced, moderated and concluded by Ditte Laursen & Valérie Schafer.

Ditte Laursen (Royal Library, Denmark) investigates how a corpus to support historical study of a national web can be established within national web archives, which usually hold several versions of the same web entity. Examining different datasets from the Danish national web archive 2005–2015, and the different ways these are handled, she demonstrates significant differences between results, with possible implications for research.

The Belgian web is currently not systematically archived. Friedel Geeraert (State Archives and Royal Library of Belgium) presents PROMISE, a research project into the feasibility of a sustainable web archiving service for Belgium. She traces the history of the Belgian web from the establishment of the .be domain in 1988 to the present, situating it in its historical, political, and legal context.

Kees Teszelszky (KB – National Library of the Netherlands) explores the research opportunities of the Dutch national web for future historians by describing the development and unique characteristics of the Dutch national web. Using traditional historical methods and web archaeology, much historic data can be reconstructed, even though the KB web archive started only in 2007.

Valérie Schafer (University of Luxembourg) draws on the experience of the French Web90 project to show the approaches, tools and methodologies used to sketch a broad historical picture of the French web during the 1990s, and the challenges the project faced.

No organisation has formal, ongoing responsibility of whole-domain archiving for .eu, one of the largest and most popular European top-level domains, Daniel Gomes ( presents an overview of archiving activities related to .eu, including the only known effort to date to archive the entire domain. He also proposes a number of options for sustainable, long-term archiving for .eu.

Panel: National webs