Private LOCKSS Network: Survey of non-members

This post provides a background briefing for UK HE institutions who are not current members of the UK LOCKSS Alliance.  It gives insight into Private LOCKSS Networks: we are currently undertaking a survey to assess interest in the use of Private LOCKSS Networks as a preservation option.  Please complete the survey online.

The UK LOCKSS Alliance is a “cooperative movement of UK academic libraries that are committed to identify, negotiate, and build local archives of material that librarians and academic scholars deem significant.”  JISC have awarded the UK LOCKSS Alliance Community Development funding, in part explicitly to look at Private LOCKSS Networks:

To review and assess the role of a Private LOCKSS Network (PLN) in the UK, moving to implementation if the recommendations are supportive. Private LOCKSS Networks are of significant interest to the UK community. The UK LOCKSS Alliance will engage with administrators of other PLNs to understand the type of content that can be preserved, and the models in which Private LOCKSS Networks can be operated. If appropriate, seed funding may be used to purchase hardware for a UK PLN.

What is a Private LOCKSS Network

Private LOCKSS Networks (PLNs) are groups of LOCKSS machines that preserve material of interest to small communities.

LOCKSS is network-driven decentralised preservation infrastructure.  Each LOCKSS box acts as a repository.  Preserved content is compared against the content of other LOCKSS boxes also holding that content.  Using this polling mechanism the authenticity of the content can be assured and damage can be detected and repaired.  Private LOCKSS Networks (PLNs) are small groups of LOCKSS boxes that are preserving content of shared interest. This is distinct from the public Global LOCKSS Network, which allows the preservation of journal content of wide interest.

Private LOCKSS Networks were discussed at a recent face-to-face meeting of UK members:

Members are interested in PLNs. A survey will be conducted to assess member’s precise requirements, and what they expect to use it for and get out of it.

Anecdotally, it appears that some institutions are interested in PLNs primarily as a ‘backup’ option, providing a form of geographically distributed redundancy.

Licensing issues around off-site preservation did not seem to be a problem. The indication was that a PLN would be a separate implementation and resource used only for the preservation of content, not serving.

There was interest in EDINA/MIMAS hosting and managing a PLN’s hardware.

Commitment to a PLN would be contingent upon good setup documentation being provided.

An open question is how multilateral the sharing will be; there is the potential for quite asymmetric sharing in terms of the quantity of materials shared, and its quality – is it particularly sensitive or valuable to research; is its integrity within the PLN absolutely essential to an institution. It is not clear how to draft an appropriate agreement between participating institutions.

There was general approval in the suggested approach of first assessing content and demand via a member survey, then setting up a task force of members to review and implement next steps.

Models of Private LOCKSS Networks

Here we briefly highlight three current Private LOCKSS Networks:

  1. The Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL) Private LOCKSS Network is a program that utilizes the LOCKSS digital preservation system as a means to archive collections of local interest to members of the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL) that are not being preserved through any other means. Digital materials such as small university press publications, open access journals, born digital government publications, and other electronic journal collections that are at risk of being lost will be preserved as part of the program.
  2. The Alabama Digital Preservation Network (ADPNet) is a low-cost distributed digital preservation network for locally created digital content, available to academic institutions, state agencies, and cultural heritage organizations in Alabama. Any Alabama institution with digital collections that are freely available to the public is invited to join ADPNet and use the network for archival preservation.
  3. The MetaArchive Cooperative provides low-cost, high-impact preservation services to help ensure the long-term accessibility of the digital assets of universities, libraries, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions.  Formed in 2004, the Cooperative functions as a community-owned, community-led initiative. Its collaborative networks are comprised of libraries, archives, and other cultural memory organizations that seek to cooperatively preserve their digital materials, not by outsourcing to other organizations, but by actively participating in the preservation of their own content.  The MetaArchive Cooperative is distinct from the above two models in that it accepts applications for new members at three levels of participation, involvement and responsibility.

The MetaArchive Cooperative provides members with an evolving set of best practices and guidelines to consider as they select and appraise content for preservation purposes. These are not prescriptive requirements; they are conceptual considerations that MetaArchive members have documented out of their own experiences in making selection and appraisal decisions regarding what content to preserve and how to prioritize that content for preservation. These include the following topics:

  • Risk Factors (e.g. is the collection unique, or do other institutions/curators hold duplicate copies?  Is the collection regularly backed up with long-term maintenance, or preserved in a trustworthy digital repository? Is there a preservation plan that designates the curatorial responsibility for the collection?)
  • Value (How important might the collection be to future scholars/researchers? How much value does the collection have for your institution?)
  • Quality (Is the collection comprised of masters or derivative files? Is the collection archival quality? Is the collection catalogued?)
  • Preservation Readiness (Is the collection structured in a logical manner, and does it use stable or dynamic URLs? Is the collection well documented internally (e.g., such that the content could be used to easily repopulate its originating repository system)?)
  • Copyright Considerations. (Does your institution own the content, is it jointly hosted, or is your institution hosting the content for the copyright owner? Does your institution have sufficient rights to replicate and distribute the content?)

Models of Operation for a UK PLN

The diagram below indicates potential models of operation for a UK Private LOCKSS Network.


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