Removing items in LOCKSS

There is often confusion over the difference between removing an AU (Archival Unit), and deactivating an AU.

LOCKSS UI: Remove Titles option

LOCKSS User Interface, highlighting the "Remove Titles" option

What is the difference?

There is a subtle difference between these two options; deactivation does the same as removal, except that it retains a record of the titles that have been deactivated so that they can be more quickly reactivated later. When you deactivate a title, you will subsequently see the Reactivate Titles option in Journal Configuration. We hope to simplify the list of options in a future version of the LOCKSS software, as part of the upgrade and simplification of the user interface.

It is however important to understand the purpose and effects of the Remove Titles option. When you remove an AU, you are removing it from the configuration; it is no longer configured for collection and will not be available via LOCKSS in your OPAC. However if it has already been collected, the content will remain on your LOCKSS box. If you choose to add the AU again, it will not need to be downloaded again.

Why are AUs not easily deleted?

This two-step process (remove from configuration, remove content from drive) is designed to prevent an administrator from accidentally removing content via the user interface. Preventing accidental loss is important as not all archived content can be restored – for example if the publisher has since stopped providing it.

If you want to completely remove AUs from your drive to free up space, please contact LOCKSS support.

How would you use the remove function?

A common scenario where a user may remove content previously configured for collection is when:

  1. Your institution does not have access to the title.
  2. The title is no longer available from the publisher.

If the title has already been collected to your box, neither of the conditions above will matter; but if it has not been collected and access is not available for either of these reasons, your box will not be able to collect it from any other source. This is true even if you once had access. (This is an argument for prioritising at risk titles.)

The above scenario demonstrates the permission or availability problems that the LOCKSS software may encounter when trying to collect any of the AUs. Work is underway to update the LOCKSS user interface in both appearance and functionality, and as part of these improvements it will be easier to identify AUs which are suffering from permission problems, and to then remove them from the configuration directly.

Why is it necessary to remove AUs?

Many institutions simply add all available content to their LOCKSS journal configuration, regardless of which journals they are actually subscribed to. There is no harm in using this approach as LOCKSS will not collect content to which you are not permitted access, but establishing the lack of permission will inevitably take time that could be better used in collecting the content to which you do have access.

Once the system has established that it cannot collect the content, removing content will clean up your interface, making it easier to identify the content which has been successfully collected. The better reporting planned for the user interface will allow you to identify and remove problem titles easily.

Note that if you have previously had access to a title but have cancelled your subscription, you are still able to maintain a copy in your LOCKSS box and serve it to your users. This is a fundamental feature of LOCKSS.


As part of the planned UI improvements, we are looking at how to simplify the common processes that an institution needs to perform. As such, we would be interested to know when and why you use the Remove Titles option, if at all. Please feel free to add comments below to tell us:

  1. Do you ever use the remove titles function in the LOCKSS user interface?
  2. What institutional reasons would lead you to remove a title?


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2 Responses to Removing items in LOCKSS

  1. Lisa Cardy says:

    We would like to use the remove titles function, once we’ve
    established that the title/AU really does need removing because we don’t
    have permission to collect the content from the publisher.

    The reason the LSE Library is planning to use this function comes down
    to accuracy and auditing: we want to be able to produce accurate
    statistics about how much of the library’s ejournal collection we have
    safely preserved in our LOCKSS box. In the Daemon status we can easily
    see how many AUs are (supposedly) in our box. However, on closer
    inspection it’s obvious that some of these AUs aren’t collecting
    properly and so if we had to serve the ejournal content from LOCKSS we
    wouldn’t be able to. We also want to be accurate: we wouldn’t index a journal in our OPAC if we didn’t have the issues on the library shelves, or track an ejournal in our portal if we didn’t have a subscription/access. In the same way we only want AUs configured in our LOCKSS box if we really are preserving them.

    So, if we can identify the AUs that we’ve configured for collection but
    shouldn’t have and remove them then we should get to a stage where the
    number of AUs we see in the Daemon status is an accurate count of the
    number and titles we’re preserving.

  2. Adam Rusbridge says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for explaining this. Very briefly, the Title List functionality might be more suitable for your needs in the current interface. The ‘Collected’ option will only list those title that have been collected (as opposed to configured), and is perhaps an easier format to digest than the Daemon Status list.


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