In April 2012 De Montfort University will be hosting a symposium on higher education for representatives from the UK and Japanese governments. There are real differences between the way Higher Education operates in UK and Japanese cultures, but one area of potential overlap would be a shared concern about long-term and resilient access to electronic journals. This is an area in which the library at De Montfort University, through its participation in the UK LOCKSS Alliance has been developing expertise since 2006.
During 2011 I was involved in the e-Journal Archiving Implementation Group (JARVIG) a JISC project aiming to develop policy on the digital preservation of electronic journals in the UK. The discussions around this issue brought in experts from the British Library, Research Councils, LIBER and the e-Depot in the Netherlands as well as representatives from University libraries across the UK. I was invited as a member of the UK LOCKSS Alliance and as a librarian at De Montfort University.
The final report has yet to come out of the JARVIG meetings, but I would expect it to look at actions that could be taken by libraries, publishers, archival agencies and the JISC that could help to ensure continuing access to electronic journals. It should also reflect recent changes, such as the launch of The Keepers Registry, tracking who is involved in archiving different electronic journals.
Japanese Higher Education both produces and consumes research that gets published in a range of print and electronic journals. Some of these journals will prove to be adequately covered by the the activities of the Archival Agencies as reported in the Keepers Registry. However, a closer look may highlight significant gaps in that coverage, for example J-Stage journals are under-represented.
Interest in digital preservation is not new in Japan. Several Japanese institutions are participating members of the CLOCKSS Initiative. The Portico website does not list any subscribing institutions. The LOCKSS website has been recently re-designed and no longer has a list of participating institutions, but I would expect there to be Japanese libraries using LOCKSS.
I think it is worth exploring whether the UK’s experience of engaging with digital preservation issues, at least for electronic journals, provides any pointers for a Japanese approach. Specifically, the idea of an alliance of libraries engaging in digital preservation activities might be a strength for Japanese libraries, just as the UK LOCKSS Alliance has been in the UK. Such a group could:
- Encourage publishers in Japan to engage with their preservation responsibilities;
- Press for e-journal archiving rights to be included in nationally agreed e-journal licenses;
- Provide mutual support or a dedicated helpdesk to assist with digital preservation activities;
- Assist other libraries to get involved in preserving their access to electronic journals.
In the UK, the JARVIG discussions looked at two main threats to continuing access to electronic journals:
- Uncertainty about post-cancellation access rights;
- Uncertainty about the commercial longevity of publishers.
In Japan, post-earthquake, there may be a further threat of interrupted access after disruptive events. A distributed preservation system like LOCKSS would have real advantages in building up local resilience to such events for both libraries and publishers.