This report summarizes a review of 12 e-journal archiving programs from the perspective of concerns expressed by directors of academic libraries in North America. It uses a methodology comparable to the art of surveying land by “metes and bounds” in the era before precise measures and calibrated instruments were available. It argues that current license arrangements are inadequate to protect a library’s long-term interest in electronic journals, that individual libraries cannot address the preservation needs of e-journals on their own, that much scholarly e-literature is not covered by archiving arrangements, and that while e-journal archiving programs are becoming available, no comprehensive solution has emerged and large parts of e-literature go unprotected. Academic libraries of all sizes have both a responsibility and an opportunity to support the development of e-journal archiving programs to better meet the needs of students, faculty, and other researchers. Libraries that elect not to support such programs in the near future risk incurring costly and delayed access to essential resources if and when publishers cease to make content available.
This report makes the following recommendations to academic libraries, publishers, and e-journal archiving programs.
Recommendations: Academic Libraries and Organizations
- Libraries and consortia should press publishers hard to enter into e-journal archiving relationships with bona fide programs and to convey all necessary rights and responsibilities for digital archiving as part of their license negotiations. Research libraries should collectively agree not to sign new licenses or renew old ones for access to electronic journals unless these conditions are met.
- Libraries should share information with each other about what they are doing in e-journal archiving, including their internal assessment processes for decision making.
- Institutions should become members of or participate in at least one e-journal archiving initiative. A broad range of academic and research libraries should be encouraged to affiliate with appropriate e-journal archiving programs.
- Academic libraries of all sizes should act collectively to press for digital archiving programs that meet their needs. As a condition of support, they should request details on the programs’ ability to meet base-level requirements for responsible stewardship of journal content and, ultimately, insist on some form of accreditation to ensure the development of full-fledged preservation programs.
- Libraries should participate in developing a registry of archived scholarly publications that indicates which programs have preserved them. This registry can be used to identify gaps in publisher or content coverage. Models for such registries include the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) and ROARMAP.
- Libraries should lobby e-journal archiving programs to participate in a network that shares information, codifies best practices, and promotes sufficient redundancy, and also shares responsibility for preserving peer-reviewed e-journals that are not currently included.
- Publishers should be overt about their digital archiving efforts and enter into archiving relationships with one or more e-journal archiving programs of the sort described in this report.
- Publishers should provide enough information to e-journal archiving programs to ensure that the scope, content, date span, and title coverage are adequately recorded.
- Publishers should extend liberal archiving rights in their licensing agreements with content aggregators and consortia. Digital archiving of e-journals should be a distributed responsibility.
Recommendations: E-Journal Archiving Programs
- Archiving programs should present compelling public evidence that they offer at least the minimal level of services for well-managed collections. They should be open to audit, and when certification of trusted digital repositories is available, they should be certified.
- Archiving programs should be overt about the publishers, titles, date spans, and content included in their programs. They should make this information easily accessible on their Web sites.
- Archiving programs should ensure that, once content is ingested, it becomes the repository’s property and cannot be removed or modified by a publisher or its successor. If there is an alleged breach of contract, there should be a process for mediating disputes to protect the longevity and integrity of the e-journal content.
- A study should be conducted to examine the rights and responsibilities necessary to ensure adequate protection for digital archiving actions so that these rights are accurately reflected in contracts. Archiving programs should periodically review contracts, because changes in publishers, acquisitions, mergers, content creation and dissemination, and technology can affect archiving rights and responsibilities.
- Archiving programs should consider that some content they store might eventually enter the public domain and should negotiate all agreements with publishers to take this possibility into account.
- Archiving programs should form a network of support and mutual dependence to exchange information on content coverage, technical implementations, and best practices; to obtain the necessary contractual rights to preserve and eventually provide access to content; to create a safety net for one another for succession planning and secondary archival functions; and to share responsibility for identifying and preserving peer-reviewed e-journals that are not currently protected.