Perma.cc, a project that takes on the problem of “link rot” or broken or defunct links in scholarship, has won the prestigious Webby Award for best law site of 2015. Developed by the Harvard Library Innovation Lab, Perma.cc is a web archiving service that helps authors and publishers create permanent links to their online sources, which are preserved by participating libraries.
“Libraries are in the forever business,” said Kim Dulin, director of the lab and associate director for collection development and digital initiatives. “We developed Perma.cc to allow our users to protect and preserve their sources, no matter where they originate.”
The idea for the project originated with research by HLS Professors Jonathan Zittrain and Larry Lessig and Kendra Albert ’16, which quantified the problem of link rot in legal scholarship and Supreme Court opinions. Their work led to the development of Perma.cc as a technical solution.
Perma.cc launched in October 2013. It now enjoys the support of some 85 libraries around the world. Roughly 275 journals use it actively, as well as the courts of Michigan, Massachusetts, Colorado, Maryland and the Virgin Islands, with more soon to come. The project has been written about in The New York Times, New Yorker, NPR and Fast Company, and in a variety of blogs and other outlets.
The Harvard Library Innovation Lab consists of a cross-disciplinary team of developers, librarians and lawyers working together to explore the future of law libraries. Working with Dulin on the project are Matt Phillips, who is leading the development of Perma.cc and Adam Ziegler, Perma.cc’s project manager.
Ziegler notes that many others within the lab, the library and the HLS community contributed and should be recognized. “Jack Cushman, a lab and Berkman Center fellow, and Annie Cain, a lab web developer, have worked closely with Matt on the technical side. Claire DeMarco, research librarian, handles a lot of the library and journal coordination. Other key contributors are Shailin Thomas, Jordi Weinstock, Jeff Goldenson (formerly of the lab), Chris Bavitz (Berkman Center), Geneve Bergeron Campbell (Berkman Center), Greg Leppert (Berkman Center).”