Published March 1, 2023 | Version 1
Report Open

Digital preservation language for agreements between libraries and publishers

  • 1. University of Michigan
  • 2. EIFL
  • 3. Princeton Theological Seminary
  • 4. Center for Research Libraries (CRL)
  • 5. Stanford University
  • 6. University of Toronto
  • 7. University of Virginia
  • 8. LIBLICENSE Project
  • 9. University of Vienna
  • 10. University of California - Davis
  • 11. University of Florida
  • 12. Novel Solutions
  • 13. Nationale Bibliotheek of the Netherlands
  • 14. Jisc
  • 15. CLOCKSS
  • 16. Portico


Libraries and publishers have a mutual obligation to ensure long-term preservation of the scholarly record - leveraging library expertise in preservation, publisher expertise in content production, and the author relationships and financial means of both parties.

Agreements between the parties are good places to document these mutual obligations. These might be subscription agreements, open access publishing agreements, or agreements that blend the two.

A review in 2022 revealed that digital preservation language in many existing agreements was vague, unclear regarding the precise content and time depth preserved, unnecessarily restrictive in terms of access and/or use, conflated post-cancellation access and long-term digital preservation and access, and was sometimes administratively burdensome to implement. It was also difficult to verify compliance with the agreements, and that the content was actually preserved properly.

This paper clarifies the distinction between long-term preservation and post-cancellation access; recommends improved language to use in agreements; and offers guidance on how to negotiate the language into agreements.