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Hartford Public Library’s Hartford History Center has been named to the Internet Archive’s first class of its Community Webs Program, a program to help public libraries create online community history archives.

The Internet Archive’s Community Webs Program provides training and education, infrastructure and services, and professional community cultivation for public librarians across the country to document their local history and the lives of their patrons.

“We believe the work of collecting and sharing our community’s history is vital to understanding who we are and who we hope to become. Being part of the Community Webs program allows us to access from all across the nation the best thinking and practices for creating online archives. This is an exciting development and we are pleased to take part in it,” said Brenda Miller, director of the Hartford History Center.

“The Community Webs program allows us access to coaching from the Internet Archive staff, free use of the Archive-It software, and connects us with other communities – both local and across the country – who are doing the same work. It gives us a jump start into the world of web archives, and provides us with resources that otherwise might have been out of reach,” said Jennifer Sharp, an archivist at the Hartford History Center.

In December 2020 the Internet Archive received a $1.13 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund a nationwide expansion of the program, which began 2017. This brings the current number of new and returning Community Webs participants to 90+ libraries from 33 states and three US territories.

This diverse group of organizations includes multiple state libraries representing their regions, as well as a mix of large metropolitan library systems, like Hartford Public Library, and small libraries in rural areas. All will be working to document their communities, with a particular focus on archiving materials from traditionally underrepresented groups.

“We need to document our community’s web presence because that is where history is being created today. Much of what used to be done on paper, is now online. The days of finding a treasure in your grandparents’ attic are diminishing. We hope to capture NRZ pages, local non-profits, and pages that complement our physical collections, such as the Hartford parks, and the City of Hartford,” Sharp said.

The program’s goal is to include a minimum of two public libraries in each of the 50 United States, plus additional local history organizations in U.S territories, for a total of 150-200 participating public libraries and heritage organizations.

For more information about the Internet Archive, visit here:

For more information about the Hartford History Center, visit here:

For more information about Hartford Public Library, visit here:

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