It Takes a Community: The CLOCKSS Initiative

Program Description:

How will you ensure researchers have access to electronic content in the future? What happens when journals get sold or lost in the shuffle of a merger? These questions vex librarians and publishers alike, but CLOCKSS has answers. CLOCKSS (Controlled Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) is a community-wide endeavor built upon the widely-used LOCKSS system. Victoria Reich, Director of the LOCKSS Program at Stanford (CA) University, explains how they are working to guarantee long-term access to digital materials, regardless of ability to pay. The New England Technical Service Librarians section (NETSL) and the North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) co-sponsor the program.

Monday, 8:30- 10


When libraries first started subscribing to more and more databases with licensed periodical content, I remember a lot of discussion about whether libraries should keep subscribing to the print version of a periodical. What would happen if the vendor stopped licensing the content from a periodical?  Many libraries have dramatically cut back on their serials subscriptions as they rely more heavily on the licensed content from their database vendors. But, if budget cuts make them curtail their database subscriptions or if a vendor severs a relationship with a publisher, that content is lost to the library. With the print subscriptions, that content remained with the library long after the subscription was canceled.

The LOCKSS and CLOCKSS intiatives have separate ways of addressing this issues. LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) tries to replicate the print serials subscription model by providing a way for libraries to store the content provided by a database vendor on a server, called a LOCKSS box. According to Reich, LOCKSS allows libraries to build local collections. They take local control of content from the Web and download it to a LOCKSS box. It’s preserved and you have 100% perpetual access.

CLOCKSS, on the other hand, is a dark archive of material built on the underlying LOCKSS technology. Nobody can access the content in a CLOCKSS box until it is no longer available through any publisher.

Reich said Stanford University and the other institutions involved are committed to these initiatives because they believe library collections are the key to democracy. Libraries are important to democracies, and collections are critical to libraries. “What keeps the group going at Stanford is the fact that we believe libraries situated in communities that have collections are central to core democracy.”

She started her presentation by talking about CLOCKSS. Continue reading