Prospects for expanding LOCKSS coverage of electronic journals

After just a few weeks of exposing the content collected in the university’s LOCKSS electronic journal digital preservation system it is interesting to look at the potential impact of this service. One way of doing this would be to check on the logs of SFX, the system we use to create our journals A-Z list and resolve openURL requests. SFX works by generating an individualised menu for each request it receives: it matches the user’s request with information, not just about the journals title, but also the annual coverage of our subscriptions.
SFX has a query that finds the ‘Top target services shown in the SFX menu’. Over the 1-16 December 2012 period LOCKSS came out as the 16th most frequently offered optional menu option. It is heartening to see LOCKSS jumping straight in to the top 20.
Another way of looking at this is to calculate the frequency of occurrence, see earlier post. On this measure LOCKSS comes out as being relevant to 6.7% of the requests received by SFX.
It is not clear whether this figure is high or low. But the same report givers some hints about the prospects for the figure to grow over the coming year.

SFX Services more popular than LOCKSS

There are full text services more popular than LOCKSS. However, most of these are either aggregator services like EBSCOhost or Proquest, who do not really have an archiving responsibility for their content. The only publisher on the list is Elsevier’s Freedom Collection. This publisher, according to the Keeper’s Registry, has digital preservation arrangements with other agencies.

SFX Services about as popular as LOCKSS

LOCKSS showed up on 835 of the menus generated in early December. There are a group of full text services between 100 and 1000 which I am calling ‘as popular’ as LOCKSS. They include direct publishers like Emerald and Wiley, and indirect groupings of publishers like the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) the free journals in Pubmed. There are prospects for growing the relevance of LOCKSS with this mid-range group of publishers. For example, at present only a few Taylor and Francis journals (and only a few years for each journal) are archived by LOCKSS, but this is likely to grow, even in the next 12 months. There are publishers producing journals that we care about either because we subscribe directly to them, or via open access gold publishing contribute to them.

The long tail of smaller publishers

There is a further group of SFX services appearing on 1-100 menus generated for the selected period. Some of these are for open access publishers that might already overlap with services mentioned earlier: DOAJ and Pubmed. Others are for publishers where we only have a few subscriptions, like MIT Press.

Expanding coverage

As new publishers make content available to LOCKSS the relevance of the material collected is likely to to grow for members of the university. Disk-space requirements are going to grow at a similar pace. It is only just becoming possible to visualise the part the LOCKSS may play in guaranteeing the security of access to the journals relied upon for teaching and research in the university. To really expand beyond the 10% mark we may have to look at supporting other digital preservation agencies, like CLOCKSS, to avoid the risk of having all our eggs in one basket.

About Philip Adams

Senior Assistant Librarian at De Montfort University. I have recently introduced a Single Sign On service for the library's databases and electronic journals. I am interested in digital preservation and the use of data to measure a library's impact. All comments own.
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