We were fascinated by the Washington Post article on the race to back up Ukraine’s digital archives. The article tells how using open source tools and Slack, 1,300 volunteers have backed up everything from the country’s historical records and census data to children’s poems and basket weaving techniques.
Over the past month, a motley group of more than 1,300 librarians, historians, teachers and young children have banded together to save Ukraine’s Internet archives, using technology to back up everything from census data to children’s poems and Ukrainian basket weaving techniques.
The Washington Post reported that “In early March, two weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Carrie Pirmann stumbled upon a website dedicated to Ivan Mazepa, a 16th century Ukrainian politician and patron of the arts. A 44-year-old librarian at Bucknell University, Pirmann had joined an international effort of fellow archivists to preserve the digital history of a country under siege, and the contents of Mazepa’s website, though obscure, seemed worth saving.”
The site held a number of things: Lord Byron poems written about Mazepa’s life and a catalogue of centuries-old articles detailing his various conquests. Pirmann opened her website scraping tool, backing up the site and preserving its content.
“Now, the original website is lost, its server space likely gone to cyberattacks, power outages or Russian shelling. But thanks to her, it still remains intact on server space rented by an international group of librarians and archivists. “We’re trying to save as much as possible,” Pirmann said. “Otherwise, we lose that connection to the past.” Buildings, bridges, and monuments aren’t the only cultural landmarks vulnerable to war. With the violence well into its second month, the country’s digital history — its poems, archives, and pictures — are at risk of being erased as cyberattacks and bombs erode the nation’s servers.
The efforts, dubbed Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online, have resulted in over 2,500 of the country’s museums, libraries, and archives being preserved on servers they’ve rented, eliminating the risk they’ll be lost forever. Now, an all-volunteer effort has become a lifeline for cultural officials in Ukraine, who are working with the group to digitize their collections in the event their facilities get destroyed in the war.
What a great article Washington Post ! Please take the time to read the race to back up Ukraine’s digital archives in full!