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Web Archiving

Web Archiving collects, makes accessible and preserves web resources of scholarly and cultural importance from the UK domain. Our vision is that by 2016

  • The British Library will be the primary collector and provider of a web archive which is representative of the UK domain.
  • The web archive will be used for scholarly research in a range of disciplines.
  • Researchers will be able to search and use the web archive as a part of the Library's overall digital collections.
  • The UK Web Archive will be known as the place where researchers and general public look for inactive and or historical versions of UK websites.

Non-Print Legal Deposit of UK Websites

Legal Deposit for UK online publications came into effect in April 2013. The Library now has a mandate to collect and preserve freely available UK online publications, in partnership with the other Legal Deposit Libraries (LDLs) for the UK. This is mainly implemented through periodic crawling of the entire UK web domain. The Web Archiving Team has put in place a system which is capable of scaling up to the size of the challenge – the UK web space contains at least 4 million websites in 2013 and continues to grow. The team continues to explore the technical and curatorial challenges of collecting at this scale, and to understand the boundaries and characteristics of the UK domain.

The Legal Deposit UK Web Archive is available within the reading rooms of all LDLs.

For more information on Legal Deposit of websites and electronic publications, please visit

Open UK Web Archive

Since 2004, the British Library has been selectively archiving websites with research value that are representative of British social history and cultural heritage. Websites archived to date are made available through the Open UK Web Archive, along with additional material archived by the National Library of Wales, the Joint Information Systems Committee and the Wellcome Library. The Open UK Web Archive contains regular snapshots of thousands of websites and offers rich search functionalities including full-text, title and URL search. The archive may also be browsed by Title, by Subject and by Special Collection.

Selected websites will continue to be added to this open access collection.

Integration with Library collections and systems

We work closely with colleagues across the Library on the ingest, storage and long-term preservation of web archives in the Digital Library System. Along with the Library’s other collections, discovery of archived websites is provided though the resource discovery system 'Explore the British Library', which is capable of finding records from both the Open UK Web Archive and the Legal Deposit UK Web Archive.

Working with others

The British Library is a founder member of the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC), which brings together national libraries and other organisations interested in web archiving, to share experience and to promote the use of common standards and tools. The British Library has been actively participating in the collaborative development of web archiving standards, and of key software including the Heritrix web crawler and the Open Source Wayback Machine, a rendering software for archived websites.

The Library also provides program management and communications services to the IIPC.

Contact information

Nicola Bingham
Lead Curator, Web Archiving
The British Library
Boston Spa
LS23 7BQ
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)19 3754 6972


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