Trusted access to scholarly publications

In December 2012 the 3rd Cultural Heritage online conference was held in Florence. Theme of the conference was “Trusted Digital Repositories and Trusted Professionals. At the conference a presentation was given on the KB international e-Depot with the title: The international e-Depot to guarantee permanent access to scholarly publications.

conference room

The international e-Depot of the KB is the long-term archive for international academic literature for Dutch scholars, operating since 2003. This archival role is of importance because it enables us to guarantee permanent access to scholarly literature. National libraries have a depository role for national publications. The KB goes a step further and also preserves publications from international, academic publishers that do not have a clear country of origin. The next step for the KB is to position the international e-Depot as a European service, which guarantees permanent access to international, academic publications for the entire community of European researchers.

The trend towards e-only access for scholarly journals is continuing rapidly, and a growing number of journals are ‘born digital’ and have no printed counterpart. For researchers there is a huge benefit because they have online access to journal articles, anywhere, any time. The downside is an increasing dependency on digital access. Without permanent access to information, scholarly activities are no longer possible. But there is a danger that e-journals become “ephemeral” unless we take active steps to preserve the bits and bytes that increasingly represent our collective knowledge.

We are all familiar with examples of hardware and software becoming obsolete. On top of this threat of technical obsolescence there is the changing role of libraries. In the past libraries have assumed preservation responsibility for material they collect, while publishers have supplied the material libraries need. These well understood divisions of labour do not work in a digital environment and especially so when dealing with e-journals.

Research and developments in digital preservation issues have grown mature. Tools and services are being developed to help perform digital preservation activities. In addition, third-party organizations and archiving solutions are established to help the academic community to preserve publications and to advance research in sustainable ways. As permanent access is to digital information is expensive, co-operation is essential, each organization having its own role and responsibility.

The KB has invested in order to take its place within the research infrastructure at European level and the international e-Depot serves as a trustworthy digital archive for scholarly information for the European research community.

2 thoughts on “Trusted access to scholarly publications

  1. In the last 10 years a number of initiatives have emerged in an effort to address the problems concerning long term availability of e-journals. The three most important are Portico, CLOCKSS and the KB e-Depot. These organizations offer archiving solutions to help the academic community to preserve publications and to advance research in sustainable ways. The KB has taken the initiative to set up an international cooperation between these preservation services. Within this network of safe places, organisations share knowledge and experience with respect to providing perpetual access to digital publications. This means that KB e-Depot is cooperating with Portico and CLOCKSS. We share experience and knowledge and we share collections, as the safe places model assumes a geographical distribution of content.

    These trusted parties can be addressed by users when strict conditions are met. The e-Depot is essentially a “dark archive”. Access to content is restricted and occurs only under specific conditions where a publication (or set of publications) has become unavailable from the publisher. The actions upon which content becomes available are called “trigger events”.

    There are four trigger events:
    1. a publisher ceases operations
    2. a publisher ceases to publish and offer a title
    3. a publisher no longer offers back issues
    4. upon catastrophic and sustained failure of a publisher’s delivery platform

    Participation libraries will be provided with a campus wide access (or in the public domain) to archived content when a trigger event occurs.

    In addition to trigger events, both publishers and libraries have recognized that in some cases, after termination of a license to an electronic resource, a library will grant continuous access to the content it had previously paid for within the license. This is called post-cancellation access. There are different ways for a publisher to provide libraries with post-cancellation access:
    – continued online access to archival copies of the licensed material on the publisher’s server
    – supplying archival copies of the licensed material to the library
    – granting access to the licensed material via an e-journal archiving solution
    – In many cases publishers designate an archiving solution as a mechanism for post-cancellation access.

    In the forthcoming years, the KB will further expand the content in the international e-Depot. It already has agreements with twelve of the top 70 publishers in the world and shall endeavour to conclude agreements with the remaining companies in this group. With this the e-Depot has the ambition to hold about 80% of the scholarly literature.

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