As many research libraries are faced with the challenge of meeting the expectations, demands, and necessity (now often with a single e-format) of providing electronic journals, we have the responsibility of developing a strategy for preserving them. We believe, at this early stage of thinking and planning, we need to take advantage of multiple approaches to the preservation of the varied electronic formats we purchase or license. It is not certain what models or services will ultimately be successful but we cannot wait, for the real and perceived risk is too great not to make reasonable commitments. Our approach at Dartmouth, a private four-year liberal arts college, is to participate in projects or services which fit within this strategy.
Early on Dartmouth joined the LOCKSS alliance as one mechanism for attempting to preserve those titles under their responsibility. With the announcement of the establishment of Portico, we felt it was an excellent program for preserving a continually expanding array of scholarly electronic journals. The ever-growing list of contributing publishers and titles is at the center of the content we feel must make arrangements for ongoing access. We see Portico as an ‘insurance policy’ in the event of problems of access from the publisher or if, for some reason, we must discontinue a license and need ongoing access, provided by the original terms of our agreement. The credibility of Portico, with its roots in the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the collaboration with JSTOR in this area, is very strong. It is clear that serious and realistic thought has been given to creating Portico and it provides a level of assurance that we are doing what we can for this aspect of our collections. In the end, it is a matter of trust that Portico will be there and we have confidence in them. Another important aspect of our support of Portico is the collaboration of publishers and libraries as we see this as equally beneficial. Also, sharing the costs is vital to making this successful. We are now routinely asking potential vendors in license negotiations if they are participating in Portico and if not, why not?
In terms of our overall strategy for preserving electronic content, we see Portico as one piece of the whole. We realize we need to build or outsource other parts of the infrastructure for different formats and categories of our collections. Portico helps us with our discussions with faculty and students about storage decisions for print knowing that we may not need to maintain certain materials or they may be stored off-site. We believe the Portico concept could be expanded to other formats. Portico has a solid plan and infrastructure to support it.