Skip to content Skip to navigation

Case Studies

LOCKSS supports myriad digital preservation services and use cases.

The flexibility of LOCKSS enables partner communities to preserve a diverse array of content under a variety of business and governance models. The following case studies are examples of how LOCKSS is being used.

General-purpose digital preservation networks — ADPN external link icon by Dave Gandy under CC BY-SA 3.0, MetaArchive Cooperative external link icon by Dave Gandy under CC BY-SA 3.0, WestVault external link icon by Dave Gandy under CC BY-SA 3.0

The growing demands of digital stewardship — in terms of the types and volume of digital materials — is both a challenge and an opportunity. As some communities have considered their core needs, responsibilities, and values, they have chosen to expand the scope of their collaborative activities to also undertake digital preservation, together, for themselves. ADPN, COPPUL, and the MetaArchive Cooperative are examples of such communities and have all been using LOCKSS for over a decade, by now preserving hundreds of collections including images, maps, publications, records, special collections, theses and dissertations, and web archives.

By hosting their own distributed preservation networks, these communities have been able to realize more effective and efficient solutions than would have been possible for any individual community member. The networks align with and leverage their communities’ existing financial, governance, and social infrastructure. Additionally important to these communities is that the costs, management, and operation of the networks, and the disposition of the content they preserve, remain transparent and wholly under community control.

Assuring permanent access to government information — Canadian Government Information external link icon by Dave Gandy under CC BY-SA 3.0, Digital Federal Depository Library Program external link icon by Dave Gandy under CC BY-SA 3.0

Government information supports data-driven public policy, government accountability, and an informed citizenry, among other social goods. The shift from print to electronic format has made government information more accessible and discoverable but also less redundant and more susceptible to loss. Under the best of circumstances, government information disseminated online may disappear for benign reasons, such as a website redesign. However, it is also the case that government information periodically comes under threat from governments themselves, such as during the Harper premiership in Canada or, more recently, the Trump administration in the United States. Whatever the threat, several communities of libraries decided that assuring permanent access to government information was too important to trust solely to governments. A group of Canadian institutions and a group of North American institutions, respectively, formed networks to preserve Canadian and U.S. federal government information.

Preserving nationally-licensed electronic resources — EDINA external link icon by Dave Gandy under CC BY-SA 3.0

National consortia often license electronic resources, with provisions such as for local loading, post-cancellation access, and text and data mining. An example is SafeNet, in the United Kingdom. EDINA has developed the Entitlement Registry, a service to facilitate reconciliation of licensing terms and trustworthy access management in accordance with participating institutions’ rights. The Entitlement Registry integrates with the LOCKSS software for rights-appropriate access management. LOCKSS is a natural fit for national hosting, since it can operate entirely within a national jurisdiction, ingest content from many publishers with minimal configuration, safeguard post-cancellation access through durable local custody, as well as provide a platform for the archiving of national open-access scholarly output.

A trusted dark archive for the scholarly record — CLOCKSS Archive external link icon by Dave Gandy under CC BY-SA 3.0

Libraries that participate in the Global LOCKSS Network or post-cancellation access-focused consortial or national networks may undertake preservation of scholarly electronic resources that are critical to the communities they serve. While incidentally improving the preservation state of many serials and monographs, these efforts are typically focused only on those resources that are licensed by individual or groups of institutions; they do not reliably address the concern of ensuring the persistence of the scholarly record as a whole, for everyone. This is the mission of the CLOCKSS Archive, a standalone non-profit organization that is cooperatively governed by libraries and publishers.

The CLOCKSS Archive uses a globally-distributed TRAC-certified network to dark-archive scholarly electronic resources as well as a growing diversity of other content types supporting the scholarly communications infrastructure (e.g., metadata, research data, and software code). Archived content is held in trust until it is no longer available from any other provider, at which point it can be triggered by determination of the board, becoming available under a Creative Commons license to everyone.

Post-cancellation access under local control — Global LOCKSS Network external link icon by Dave Gandy under CC BY-SA 3.0

When scholarly publishing migrated from print to online, custody of the scholarly record became alarmingly more centralized, continuing access to electronic resources became more dependent on publishers, and libraries lost the ability to fulfill one of their basic functions — collecting. The LOCKSS software was originally built and then deployed in the Global LOCKSS Network to address these issues. Libraries participating in the Global LOCKSS Network run a local node that automatically caches eligible subscription electronic resources that they have access to. Once cached, the materials are preserved collaboratively in concert with all of the other LOCKSS nodes storing that content throughout the network. The library’s LOCKSS system provides perpetual access to its preserved content for its community of readers, without dependence on the publisher or any other third party.

A preservation back-end for innovative archiving services - Perma.cc external link icon by Dave Gandy under CC BY-SA 3.0

Responding to the growing incidence of link rot in judicial opinions, the Harvard Library Innovation Lab built Perma.cc, a service to archive cited web resources and then provide access to them via a permalink. Perma.cc works in concert with a network of library partners, who sponsor and administer the service for their local user and publisher communities. A limited initial LOCKSS implementation provides a preservation back-end that could easily enable partners to join and augment the preservation network, as the service infrastructure expands beyond Harvard University.

Preserving national open-access scholarly output — Cariniana external link icon by Dave Gandy under CC BY-SA 3.0

Open-access publishing is incredibly strong in Brazil. While contributing to the global scholarly communications ecosystem, by language and topical focus, Brazilian open-access scholarly output is likely to be of greatest interest within its country of origin. Brazil therefore has the greatest stake in ensuring the preservation of its open-access content, both for its own citizenry and the global research community. Recognizing this need, the Instituto Brasileiro de Informação em Ciência e Tecnologia (IBICT) set up Cariniana, which preserves open-access scientific publications hosted on Open Journal Systems (OJS) platforms.

An open network for the preservation of open-access scholarship — Public Knowledge Project (PKP) Preservation Network external link icon by Dave Gandy under CC BY-SA 3.0

The open-source Open Journal Systems (OJS) platform has been tremendously successful in lowering the barrier to scholarly publishing, as demonstrated by its usage statistics and geographic reach. Many of the titles published via OJS are open access and “long tail,” an intersectional category of content that is less systematically archived by Keepers such as the CLOCKSS Archive, Global LOCKSS Network, and Portico, largely owing to it being more expensive to process. PKP has capitalized on the popularity of OJS and the flexibility of LOCKSS to offer a free, seamless, and highly-replicated preservation service to OJS users, safeguarding unique open access and long tail content for all.

Distributed web archive preservation — Archive-It external link icon by Dave Gandy under CC BY-SA 3.0

NDSA Web Archiving and Archive-It surveys consistently highlight the marginal degree of web archive preservation outside of Archive-It infrastructure. The highly-centralized custody of web archives is a risk to the persistence of an entire class of information resources — including content that institutions have traditionally concerned themselves with collecting and unique content native to the Web — and limits the potential of research and data services dependent on local custody. The distributed digital preservation capabilities of LOCKSS are a natural complement to Archive-It as a consolidated service for web content capture and curation, particularly for consortia or other collaborative initiatives sharing an Archive-It account. A LOCKSS network can be easily configured for ongoing automated accessioning of web archive crawl data as it is generated.