Future researchers can rest easy: Know Your Meme, Urban Dictionary, Creepypasta and Cute Overload have all been preserved by the Library of Congress. So has the band website for They Might Be Giants and the entire published output of The Toast, the humor site that shut down in 2016.
And while the Library of Congress owns a rare print copy of the Gutenberg Bible, the web archive features the LOLCat Bible Translation Project, which rendered the bible in LOLspeak.
For the past 20 years, a small team of archivists at the Library of Congress has been collecting the web, quietly and dutifully in its way. The initiative was born out of a desire to collect and preserve open-access materials from the web, especially U.S. government content around elections, which makes this the team’s busy season.
But the project has turned into a sweeping catalog of internet culture, defunct blogs, digital chat rooms, web comics, tweets and most other aspects of online life.
“Suddenly, these new technologies and social media platforms come in, and these new types of ways people were communicating or sharing data online,” said Abbie Grotke, who leads the archiving team and has worked for the program since 2002, two years after its founding. “And we had to keep up with it all. There’s always something new the web is throwing at us.”