May 27, 2022

Report: “Law Library of Congress Implements Solution for Link and Reference Rot”

2016-04-14_20-24-38Charlotte Stichter, Managing Editor of the Law Library of Congress, discusses link rot and the use of at the Law Library of Congress on the DigitalGov blog.

We’ve mentioned on infoDOCKET in the past dating back to 2013.

Make sure to note the link and reference rot resources at the conclusion of Stichter’s article.

From the DigitalGov Blog Post:

Last fall, the Law Library of Congress implemented an external archiving solution for the problem of link and reference rot in its legal research reports. “Link rot” and “reference rot” (a.k.a. “content drift”) are the terms used to describe, respectively, the problem of non-working Web addresses and Web addresses that work but link to modified content different from what the user originally saw. Link rot is most commonly identified when a user receives the familiar “404—File Not Found” error message, or a similar error message, on his or her computer screen. Reference rot can be more difficult to spot without text comparison software, but may be indicated by a “last modified” message at the bottom of a Web page. Both problems are the byproduct of Internet impermanence—websites can be redesigned or shut down, content can be moved or changed, or service can be restricted without advance notice.


The Law Library’s discovery regarding the extent of link rot in its own reports led to the search for an archiving solution that would allow readers of those reports to access linked content in real time, as they were reading, without having to jump out of the report to search a database of archived material. The exploration of options ultimately lead to a solution known as, developed specifically for the legal community by the Harvard Library Innovation Lab. allows authors to archive documents referenced in their work as they are writing and simultaneously generates a permalink to the archived document for inclusion in the work.

Read the Complete Post

See Also: Another blog post by Charlotte Stichter on link rot from the In Custodias Legis Blog (August 2015)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.