Local history archives have long served as vital resources for preserving the stories of communities. With many records now published on the web, the ability to preserve collections of online newspapers, local blogs, civic websites, social media, and other platforms is an increasingly important skill for librarians and other cultural heritage professionals in fulfilling their role as information custodians and community anchors. Locally-focused web archiving can also diversify the historical record and preserve the voices of those often excluded from the archive.
Community Webs began in 2017 as an Institute of Museum and Library Services and Internet Archive funded program of continuing education, training, and services to enable public libraries to build collections of historically-valuable, web published materials documenting their local communities. In 2020, with the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Community Webs expanded to include more public libraries from across the United States. In 2021, the Internet Archive expanded the program again to welcome Community Webs applicants from public libraries and other cultural heritage organizations from Canada and across the globe. The program now includes over 150 member organizations from around the world and has grown more than ten-fold since its first cohort in 2017.