Skip to content Skip to navigation

Why LOCKSS?

We serve and empower the communities we work with.

LOCKSS is based on the idea that communities are in the best position to ensure long-term access to data that is under their control. Since 1999, LOCKSS has provided the foundation for robust digital preservation of all types of digital content for libraries, publishers, and other content providers and stewards. We have done so through research, development, and maintenance of proven technologies built to mitigate a comprehensive threats to data persistence; delivering reliable service and support; and fostering a community of self-determined digital preservation practitioners. We have a long track record of leadership in digital preservation and count as partners many of the world’s leading memory institutions.

Here are seven additional reasons why communities and organizations choose to use LOCKSS:

Organizational durability

The LOCKSS Program is one of the longest-running digital preservation initiatives still operating today. We are part of Stanford University, a world-class institution that is itself over a century old, and operate according to robust financial controls and policies. This longevity is not uncommon to academic institutions, and explains why they are so strongly represented in digital preservation communities; they are a natural fit to serve as long-term stewards of digital information. The LOCKSS Program has diversified funding sources, including libraries, publishers, and grants.

Principled technology

Our technical architecture and approach offers protections for stored information that are not provided by other digital preservation systems. We have built the system based on a comprehensive and openly-articulated threat model that critically considers the kinds of threats responsible for the vast incidence of real-world data loss. The rationale for our system design is furthermore elaborated in award-winning and peer-reviewed published research.

The LOCKSS software is open for community review, scrutiny, contribution, and adaptation, and made available under a permissive BSD license. LOCKSS is certified trustworthy — a thorough external evaluation of a LOCKSS-based system, a 2014 audit of the CLOCKSS Archive under the Trustworthy Repositories Audit and Certification criteria by the Center for Research Libraries, yielded the only perfect score issued to date for the category of "Technologies, Technical Infrastructure, Security" (PDF) as well as an overall score matching the previous best. In 2018, CRL re-certified the CLOCKSS Archive, awarding it the highest overall score received to date. We continue to build technology that can be adopted and applied without dependence on any vendor, facilitates interoperability via standards conformance, and provides well-specified interfaces for integration with third-party systems.

Community relationships

We are partners in preservation with the communities and organizations we serve. This includes communities using LOCKSS technologies; the CLOCKSS Archive and its library supporters and publisher participants; and members of the Global LOCKSS Network. LOCKSS is not just a principle and a technology; it is a community of practice, with an impact and reach that transcends the direct activities of the LOCKSS Program.

We are active members of communities committed to advancing digital stewardship, including CNI, IIPC, NDSA, PASIG, and the Designing Storage Architectures for Digital Collections annual forum. We were one of the original signatories of the Digital Preservation Declaration of Shared Values, and undergird the principal digital preservation services of three of the other original signatories.

We share common cause with other communities contributing to an open digital library ecosystem, such as Fedora, Islandora, and Samvera. We have counted among our close collaborators a diverse range of organizations, including EDINA, the Harvard University Computer Science Department, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Internet Archive, Oracle/Sun Microsystems, and the UC Santa Cruz Computer Science Department. We participate in and support the work of the Keepers Registry and the Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States (CHORUS).

Local control

LOCKSS is a tool for communities to be able to sustain the capacity and the commitment to carry out digital preservation for themselves. Local control enables less contingent and more flexible access to content, such as for perpetual access and text and data mining, and serves as a vital bulwark against changing vendor business practices and overreaching national governments. Local control also means being less dependent on third-party attestations of content custody and preservation status, as you can always examine and determine the disposition of the content stored in your own LOCKSS cache.

Recognized expertise

LOCKSS Program staff have made substantial contributions to the digital library field, with notable leadership in digital preservation, emulation, storage, and web archiving. We belong to a larger organization that is a leader in a number of digital library communities, including Blacklight, Fedora, IIIF, Samvera. We have received funding through competitive processes from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Library of Congress, and the National Science Foundation. We write, present, and collaborate regularly on work that shapes the field.

Legal rights

All content in the CLOCKSS Archive and the Global LOCKSS Network is preserved with explicit publisher permission, secured via written contract or through online permission statements. We work closely with LOCKSS network implementers to facilitate development of governance and legal terms that are appropriate to the implicated content, jurisdictions, rights, and access affordances.

Polyglot ecosystems

The LOCKSS software was originally built to preserve scholarly publications, informed by original research in digital preservation and enabled by web archiving tools. LOCKSS uniquely contributes to and leverages these three ecosystems: scholarly communications, digital preservation, and web archiving. Its broad footprint facilitates cross-pollination of best practices and technologies, reduces costs by sharing, and allows for better keeping pace with an evolving and interdependent field.

For publishing, LOCKSS handles not just journals and books, but all genres and formats from over 1,000 publishers. We have flexible, scalable workflows and ingest processes (e.g., FTP, OAI-PMH, web harvest) to lower costs for our partners. We integrate with digital library and curation platforms for interoperation and seamless data exchange. We are currently enhancing the LOCKSS software with APIs to make this even easier, and to leverage best-in-class, community-supported web archiving technologies for more robust capture and replay of the modern web.