Notes from a presentation given by Toni Tracy (Director, Publisher Relations, Portico) at the Ingenta US Publisher Forum in 2006.

EDIT: slides now available -- download .pps

Portico's Mission: To preserve scholarly literature published in electronic form and to ensure that these materials remain available to future generations of scholars, researchers, and students

Portico's History:
The project has its roots in a JSTOR project: Electronic-Archiving Initiative. This was aimed at faciliating transition to electronic journals by developing a technical infrastructure and sustainable archive to preserve e-journals.

The project began with a 2-year pilot phase (2003-2005), working with 10 publishers initially.

The decision was made to pull out Portico as a separate independent project from JSTOR. Portico was launched in Spring 2005 by JSTOR and Ithaka, with support from the Mellon Foundation. Their operations are now live and journals are actively being ingested and archived.

Publisher participants started after Frankfurt last year. Library partners are due to become involved after ALA Mid Winter.

Portico is:

  • A not-for-profit organization
  • .
  • Centralized archive open to all peer-reviewed journals

  • Community-based, taking a co-operative approach to the digital preservation challenge

Their advisory committee is made up of both librarians and publishers

The approach to archiving is to preserve the intellectual content, not an individual publisher's look-and-feel. They are not a web archive. The archive contains text, images, and limited functionality such as internal linking within documents.

Publishers deliver source files (SGML, XML, PDF, etc) to Portico. These are then converted or normalized from that proprietary format to an archival format for deposit in the Portico repository. The archival format is based on the NLM DTD.

The normalization process "proceeds carefully and deliberately". The emphasis is on long-term preservation requirements rather than immediate access. This is a "migration" approach to archiving, as opposed to "emulation" (a la LOCKSS). The migration approach brings content into a normalized format for preservation. Portico actively engages with the individual publisher to discuss why they made certain choices, e.g. for images, tagging practices, etc. The results are an accurate, although plain rendition of the original content.

Portico's access model has undergone extensive discussion, taking 18 months to reach a consensus.

Currently it only offers access to archived content to those libraries supporting the archive financially.

Access is offered only when specific trigger event conditions prevail AND when titles no longer available from the publisher or other sources.

Trigger events include:

  • publisher ceases operations, and content not available elsewhere

  • publisher ceases to publish and offer a title and it is not offered by another publisher

  • when back issues are removed from publishers site and these are not available elsewhere

  • catastrophic failure of a publisher's delivery platform for a sustained period of time

Lot of back issue digitization efforts. Forseeing a day when back issues have had all commercial advantage reaped from them, and may get removed. Portico can step in and provide continued access.

For supporting libraries, trigger events initiate campus-wide access regardless of subscription.

Until a trigger occurs, select librarians from partnering institutions are granted password access for archive audit and verification. This access is explicitly not for document delivery or inter-library loan purposes. It's just for verification.

Libraries can use Portico archive for post-cancellation or "perpetual" access IF a publisher chooses to name Portico to meet that obligation. Of the 13 participating publishers, 10 have allowed this so far.

Who pays? Publishers and Libaries, but also charitable foundations and government agencies that also offer support. Mellon and JSTOR included.

13 publishers: 3,400 journals. 60 libraries (35 contracted, rest in process). Include Sage, UKSG, Elsevier, OUP, Wiley, BioOne...

Supporting publishers are asked to sign a license agreement and deposit articles in a timely manner. Financial contributions consist of an annual fee to fund initial conversion tools, development, and to defray costs of adding new content. Contributions tiered and vary according to a journal's revenue.

Supporting libraries incur a similar annual archive support payment which covers ongoing operations, maintenance and enhancements. Contributions are again tiered.

Benefits of Archiving:

  • Facilitates transition to reliance on electronic resources. Enables system-wide savings through reduced processing and storage of print resources ("virtual stacks")

  • Assuring access to e-resources over the long term and protects gaps in library collections.

  • Provides a practical mechanism to address "perpetual access" needs.

Role for Publishers: What is your archival strategy? Develop and articulate your strategy to libraries. Signs of growing awareness of importance of archiving amongst publishers. Encouraged to participate in at least one archival arrangement. Publishers should monitor digital preservation developments and efforts, as well as related legal developments, e.g. on legal deposit (big issue for UK publishers), e-content copyright registration (Library of Congress pilot beginning) and
"Section 108 Working Group".

Q: If publisher deals with Portico with post-cancellation access
what will user see?

A: The vanilla version. Portico is not a primary access point. Don't want to compete
with investments made by publisher

Q: What are the hardware decisions? Does it matter?

A: Robust replication strategy. So online/offline replication, so stable even though centralised. Princeton, will add west coast, mid-west, UK, and Asia (eventually).

Q: What if a participating publisher went out of business. Are there plans to make it easier to use? (from Mary Page)

A: Its not static. Rudimentary search and browse. Will need to listen to library community. Keep that conversation going.

Q: We would want something more user friendly, if you're the only host

A: This will be on agenda for strategy meeting. Will be gathering metrics on level of post-cancellation usage, etc.

Interested All My Eye readers may wish to read "Preserving Electronic Scholarly Journals: Portico" from the April issue of Ariadne, for more information. Another useful executive overview of the archiving landscape was recently published in the Charleston Advisor.