The KB National Library of the Netherlands’ collection of websites hosted by the former internet provider XS4ALL has become part of the Dutch UNESCO committee’s national Memory of the World register for documentary heritage, launched in 2022. In a unique move, UNESCO has made this the first ever born-digital collection to be given the Memory of the World heritage status. The collection contains thousands of home pages from the period 1994-2001. They give unique insight into the start of the Dutch internet culture.
The XS4ALL web collection
The KB National Library of the Netherlands aims to preserve everything that has ever been published in or about the Netherlands, including websites. The XS4ALL home pages form a special web collection, as they were made by individual citizens, about subjects they considered to be important - at a time when there were no social media and online publishing was still a new phenomenon. For the first time in history, a platform was given to groups such as children, people with a disability, and people from ethnic, cultural or sexual minorities. They were free to spread their message without fear of intervention from governments, editors or publishers. This makes these websites a unique source of cultural history.
The KB is proud that its XS4ALL web collection has been placed on the Dutch UNESCO Memory of the World heritage list. Kees Teszelszky, curator of digital collections: “Up until now, mainly heritage that had once been owned by prominent figures was given the status of world heritage. This is the first time that heritage created by ordinary people has been given this status. These people were proud of what they’d made at the time, even though it’s not particularly old, expensive or beautiful. I see this as recognition of the importance of things that are ordinary, everyday and personal. And it’s confirmation that born-digital culture is well and truly part of our rich heritage.”