Collecting/Recording the 2009 Queensland State Election

The recent Queensland state election saw John Oxley Library Published Materials staff busily sourcing, collecting and organising printed and other material related to the election.  Items collected from around the state include how to vote cards, stickers, flyers and badges from political parties, independents, candidates and lobby groups.  In addition to these physical items, a number of websites have also been collected – copied from the internet around the time of the election.  These websites have been preserved in the PANDORA, Australia’s web archive.

Librarian Maxine Fisher working on the political ephemera

Examples of websites captured so far for the 2009 Queensland State election campaign collection include those of the Queensland Greens, Lawrence Springborg – leader of the new Liberal National Party, Pauline Hanson – independent

candidate in the Beaudesert electorate, and Premier Anna Bligh’s official twitter page.  The capture of such sites gives us important insights into the issues, policies and debates of the election.  A party or candidate’s web presence can contain information about and images of candidates, how to vote cards, and often videos and electoral advertisements.  The archived versions of sites such as Anna Bligh’s twitter page will remain as an example and an indication to future researchers how politicians at this point in time were adopting web social networking utilities in an attempt to appeal to their audience and communicate, interact and share information with the public and potential voters in new ways.

While library staff are assisted in building our print collections by legal deposit provisions under the Libraries Act 1988 which requires that publishers deposit printed and other physical format material with the John Oxley Library, no such legislation exists giving us free reign to copy and display websites in the archive.  As such, written copyright permissions are obtained from website owners before sites are copied or gathered.  Once a site is gathered, this copy must be compared to the original and any technical problems in the gathered version resolved, so as to retain the look and feel of the original live site.  This can be a time consuming but important exercise, and when the quality assurance process in complete, the

archived version is then made available in PANDORA.

Significant challenges are involved in web archiving: obtaining written copyright permissions, solving technical difficulties, and dealing with the growing and ever evolving web.  Live websites can contain features and coding which can be fiddly, difficult, and sometimes impossible to replicate in the archived environment.  Adding to these challenges is the fleeting

nature of the web, especially around election time, where sites can quickly change or disappear after their purpose has passed.  For example, Anna Bligh’s original Keep Queensland Strong http://www.anna4qld.com.au/ site, captured by State Library on 20th March just prior to the election, is now no longer available on the live internet.  At the time of writing, the url http://www.anna4qld.com.au/ does operate, but links readers to the Premier’s official current government site.  The original Anna Bligh Keep Queensland Strong election site is however, captured for posterity in PANDORA.  You can view it online in the PANDORA archive at http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-95281

Complementing our print collections, State Library’s ongoing commitment to identifying and capturing significant Queensland websites in PANDORA means that an important part of our state’s documentary and web heritage is available now and for future generations of researchers.

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