Critically Endangered small

Digital materials produced and shared in and by ad-hoc community art and heritage projects, typically through digitization, where the creation of digital materials was a significant purpose of the initiative.

Group: Community Archives

Trend in 2021:

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

No change No Change

Previous classification: Critically Endangered


Trend in 2022:


No change No Change


Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within twelve months, detailed assessment is a priority

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

It would require a major effort to prevent or reduce losses in this group, possibly requiring the development of new preservation tools or techniques.


Locally organised programmes associated with public remembrance and celebration such as World War One centennial commemorations; City of Culture; Olympic Games; World Cup

‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Poor documentation; lack of replication; lack of continuity funding; lack of residual mechanism. dependence on small number of volunteers, lack of preservation mandate; lack of preservation thinking at the outset; failure of digital legacy planning; conflation of backup with preservation; conflation of access and preservation; inaccessible to web archiving

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Residual archive with residual funding able to receive and support collections; strict adherence to digitization guidelines; quality assurance; active user community; intellectual property managed to enable preservation.

2021 Jury Review

This entry was added in 2019 as a subset of ‘Community Archives and Community-Generated Content’ which was split into two to provide greater specificity in recommendations. The 2020 Jury noted a trend towards greater risk based on how Community art and heritage groups, which often rely on volunteer effort, have been unable to meet for extended periods in 2020. Moreover, the local galleries, museums and arts centres on which they depend have closed, in some cases for good. Considering this dislocation, digital materials generated by community groups in arts and heritage are likely to be at a greater risk than in 2019.
The 2021 Jury agreed with the Critically Endangered classification and 2020 trend towards greater risk. However, the risk had not increased to the extent where there was a notable 2021 trend. The Jury commented that risks have not increased as so much as the challenges have remained, specifically those of funding and sustainability. Community-generated materials are often produced and shared through funded projects and tell a similar story of loss through inaction, but the challenge is the same as before; sustainability with project-based funding. There should be greater Responsibility of funding bodies to ensure that digital preservation is built into any funded community preservation project plan and outcome. Digital content in this context is often seen as a by-product of engagement and is annoyingly left to disappear by organizations that do not have digital preservation experience or infrastructure. With good governance and sustainable digital repository support, this should not be an issue.

Additional Comments

Local archives address these collections on an ad hoc basis. This entry provides cultural insights into parts of society not addressed by collecting policies with a focus on the famous. Difficult to state whether national or international impact since it largely depends on the content and how widely it is used. I think this also depends on the identity group represented by the community group, such as events around Black History Month. Loss seems likely because of the precarity of the funding streams, or lack thereof, for these projects. Once digitization has been carried out, many projects do not know what to do with them or have the means to make them accessible. Often a lack of understanding of copyright is a barrier to sharing.

This may also be a call to education for grant funders about digital preservation of the long tail in funding these projects, such as what is happening now with government-funded research in universities and the universities realizing they have a responsibility to maintain the digital research data in a usable format.

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