[Keepers Extra] Why a Keepers Extra project?

KE-BrandJisc have invested in Keepers Extra, a 2-year project to optimize the benefit of the Keepers Registry service to UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and other key stakeholders. Led by EDINA, Keepers Extra builds on the success of the Keepers Registry service, which provides easily accessible information about the archiving arrangements for electronic journals. 

We will be adding posts to this blog that discuss the Keepers Extra project, update the Keepers Registry community on progress, and discuss the themes raised in the project.  In this first introductory post, we consider the need and rationale for the Keepers Extra project.

The last decade has seen an explosive growth in on-line scholarly publishing. Rather than reading journals onsite at the library, researchers and students alike expect to access and consult papers and articles quickly and easily from their own computers. University libraries increasingly provide access to material hosted by publishers, paying subscriptions for access to journals on-line rather than for printed back copies. These changes have had significant ramifications for libraries in terms of how their spaces and collections are used, fundamentally changing the priorities and collection management policies of some institutions. The rapid transformation to an electronic environment has had many benefits including faster and more flexible access to journal articles. However, it has also given rise to significant issues surrounding the longer term accessibility of scholarly material and these new e-journal publishing and subscription practices have implications on the library’s traditional role of stewardship. The consequences of these changes are not yet clear, but they raise many questions: when libraries pay for access rather than for an object, what happens when that access is halted? How does a researcher consult a ‘back copy’ when their library no longer subscribes? What happens when a title is transferred between publishers or when a publisher goes out of business? Publishers have not historically taken that role of stewardship and if libraries are no longer the collectors and custodians of the scholarly record, who is responsible for ensuring that the world’s knowledge is preserved for the future?

In 2011, analysis undertaken by the Keepers Registry team showed that of all the continuing resources assigned ISSNs, only around 20% was safely archived. That means that an astonishing 80% of contemporary scholarship published in e-journals is at risk of loss.

Launched in 2011 in partnership between EDINA and the ISSN International Centre, the Keepers Registry was designed to enable its users to see what scholarly e-journal content has been preserved, by whom and under what terms of access. The Keepers Registry aggregates metadata from participating archiving agencies and, using the ISSN-L as a unique identifier for journal titles, it serves as a showcase for the work of the Keepers, the archiving agencies undertaking the vitally important task of ensuring that the scholarly record is preserved for future generations. These include national libraries, research library consortia and not-for-profit initiatives such as Portico and CLOCKSS. In addition to revealing precisely which journals and volumes are safely stored, the Registry is helping us to understand what is not being archived.  By analysing the extent of archiving by usage, or by country of publication, we can begin to understand the extent of publications that remain at risk of loss.

Keepers Registry is becoming established as an important tool in library workflows, but the challenge of increasing preservation coverage remains, hence the need for Keepers Extra.

Keepers Extra is a community-driven project designed to build on the Registry and explore the challenges that it brings into focus. As well as enabling feature developments that will ensure the service is maximally useful to the library community and Keeper agencies, it will encourage new archiving agencies to join the Keepers community and lay the foundations for collaboration among key stakeholders both nationally and internationally. Strategically, Keepers Extra lets us explore how as a community we might work together to increase the preservation coverage of scholarly e-journals.

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