Posted by Lori Ayre on March 5, 2005

LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe) could fix some of your biggest serials headaches. Developed by Stanford, LOCKSS is a system of LOCALLY storing copies of all the e-journals your library subscribes to and ensuring that your have local access to them forever.

Here's how it works: each LOCKSS machine is an inexpensive PC running free software. It collects content on the publisher's website by "crawling" it. The LOCKSS machine preserves the content by "a peer-to-peer process of mutual audit and repair with other LOCKSS machines storing the same content, and disseminates it by acting as a Web proxy."

Currently, over 60 publishers and 80 libraries are participating.

The Benefit of LOCKSS
Whereas libraries used to buy journals and keep them on file, now journals are delivered electronically and even previously purchased subscriptions may be available only as long as the subscription is current. Conversely, material stored in a local LOCKSS appliance remains available to members of the library's local community even when the publisher goes away. The host library?s readers can see the content at its original URL even after the publisher has removed it, or the library?s subscription has lapsed.

LOCKSS "allows librarians at each institution to take custody of and preserve access to the e-journals to which they subscribe, restoring the purchase model with which librarians are familiar. Using their own computers and network connections, librarians can obtain, preserve and provide access to a purchased copy of an e-journal. This is analogous to libraries' use their own buildings, shelves and staff, to obtain, preserve and provide access to paper journals."