Libraries participating in LOCKSS networks can secure irrevocable and unmediated post-cancellation access for their preserved electronic resources.
In a paper world, a library’s subscription to a journal or purchase of a book meant that the library obtained a copy of the content. The copy was the library’s to keep, and their readers could access it. In the web world, a library’s readers’ access to past content depends on the library continuing to subscribe to future content. The post-cancellation access problem can thus be stated as, “how can libraries retain access to the past content for which they have paid, after budgetary pressures mean that they can no longer afford to subscribe to future content?”
There are three different market approaches to post-cancellation access:
Libraries can take local custody of subscription electronic journals and books. When managed through a LOCKSS system, readers that can no longer access the publisher-hosted content can access the local copies cached via LOCKSS. This approach safeguards post-cancellation and perpetual access, regardless of the current disposition of the contract.
Provided by publisher
Libraries can rely on the publisher to continue to supply access to past content even though the library is no longer paying them, an approach offering minimal guarantees of publisher accommodation or responsiveness.
Provided by third-party archive
Libraries can purchase post-cancellation access insurance from a third-party archive, which promises that it will supply access to past content if the publisher will not. However, this access is predicated on the library maintaining its subscription to the archive service, an arrangement potentially endangered by the same budgetary pressures prompting subscription cancellations. In other words, this approach simply shifts the provider dependency without fundamentally addressing the post-cancellation access problem.
Why LOCKSS for post-cancellation and perpetual access
LOCKSS stands out among these approaches as conserving the role of the library as steward and guarantor of continuing reader access to electronic resources. For further discussion of why this matters, and the post-cancellation access problem more generally, please see the blog post, Why Preserve E-Journals? Post–Cancellation Access.