By Miguel Juárez, PhD
In August 2019, Adan Griego, our colleague at the Stanford University Library, who is originally from El Paso, sent some of us an e-mail suggesting we archive news materials from the August 3, 2019 Walmart Shooting. Unfortunately, the “El Paso Mass Shooting Archive,” joins other mass shootings which have occurred which are archived online.
Griego sent Claudia Rivers, Director of the University of Texas at El Paso Special Collections which included other members of the Border Regional Archives (BRLA) group and included me in his email. At the same time Web Archiving staff for the Internet Archive had contacted members of the Border Regional Library Association (BRLA) and with support from the UTEP Special Collections, we began archiving news articles which were titled “El Paso Walmart Shooting Web Archive.” According to their site, Archive-It is: “The leading web archiving service for collecting and accessing cultural heritage on the web.” Most of the organizations who use the service are archives and libraries.
An account was opened and Archive-It staff provided us with a Microsoft Word Excel spreadsheet titled “El Paso Mass Shooting, August 3, 2019 bulk upload” on Google Drive so we could collectively add media links. Once we entered links on the spread sheet they could not be duplicated elsewhere on the list. Archive-It would then harvest URLs in a process they call “Web Crawling.” Our goal was to add news stories, videos and links on the website.
The “El Paso Mass Shooting Archive, August 3, 2019,” is among the top five archived mass shootings collections in Archive-It. Archive-It includes documentation of the following mass shootings: Norway Shooting July 23, 2011 (4,250 links); Tucson Shootings (1,996 links); Brazilian School Shooting (650); Christchurch Mosque Shootings (467 links); El Paso Mass Shooting, August 3, 2019 (446 links); Atlanta Elementary School Shooting 2013 (305 links); Virginia Tech April 16 Shootings Remembrance (241 links); Web Archive on the October 1, 2017 Shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada (226 links); 2016 Pulse Nightclub Shooting (201 links); #blacklivesmatter Web Archive (170 links); Shooting in Atlanta Elementary School (158 links); and 2012 Summer Olympics (128 links); as of December 31, 2019.
As a visitor to the site of the spontaneous memorial two days after the shootings, I can attest that coverage of the incident was an International event with news press from a number of countries. We were able to upload news articles in English, Spanish and French. Videos took a lot of space and we decided to exclude them for now, but web archiving is the promise to save materials being produced online, but there are issues and costs associated with them.
The Archive-It platform allowed us to save the complete articles related to the shooting. It by no means includes all the articles published on the incident, but it is as comprehensive as a possible for the time we had to work on it. I felt a personal responsibility to document it. As a previous librarian and archivist, it also provided me an opportunity to contribute to an important project. Once you are a librarian and archivist, you are always one. It’s in your blood!
One year later, it doesn’t make thinking of the the event any easier. We will never forget. Frontera Firme!