By Karen Bouchard, Arts & Humanities Librarian, Brown University.
The Collaborative Architecture, Urbanism, and Sustainability Web Archive, or CAUSEWAY, is the brainchild of the Ivies Plus Art and Architecture Group, acting under the auspices of the Ivies Plus Libraries Confederation. As part of its mission, the confederation has instituted a collaborative collection development initiative for freely available, but at risk, web content. This content, currently available on the Archive-It platform, consists of thematic, curated collections, covering many areas of interest from Belarusian politics to contemporary composers to queer Japan.
The Ivies Plus Art and Architecture Group has curated several collections so far, including the Collective Architecture and Design Response to Covid-19 Website Archive and the Latin American and Caribbean Contemporary Art Website Archive. CAUSEWAY is “a joint initiative by the art and architecture librarians at Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale universities, and the universities of Chicago and Pennsylvania.” Its goal is to preserve websites about architecture, urban and sustainable design, public spaces, and related topics.
As one of the librarians involved in the project, my mission was to locate and nominate websites from the state of Rhode Island. These include sites from well-established organizations such the Providence Preservation Society as well as grassroots efforts such as the Fox Point Community Garden. Many of the students I work with at Brown University take an interest in the Providence community, as well as that of the state. My goal was to create a record of current sites that are of interest now and are likely to continue to be so in the future, not only to History of Architecture students but also to those in Public Humanities, Urban Studies, Ethnic Studies, and other areas of scholarship.
Nominations for sites to be added to CAUSEWAY, or seeds, are forwarded to the confederation’s Web Resources Collection Librarian, who reaches out to site owners to ask for their permission. In most cases, permission is readily given and sometimes the owners even suggest other sites to add! A record is created for each site with a link, metadata describing the site, and subject headings. Sites are regularly crawled and updated after they are added.
Although it continues to grow, CAUSEWAY currently includes 389 sites from 38 states and provinces. Among the featured subjects are Historic Preservation, Community Development, Housing, Environmental Protection, Neighborhoods, Transportation, and more. I hope that this post will encourage you to take a look at CAUSEWAY and, even better, to add it to your library catalogs in order to enhance discovery. A collection level record can be downloaded from Worldcat, as well as individual seed-level records. There is much here of use and interest to anyone interested in the urban environment.