NatHosting – national hosting of electronic resources

FundingGerman Research Foundation (DFG)
First project phase01/02/2014 – 31/01/2016 
Second project phase01/04/2018 – 31/03/2022
Project partnersBayerische Staatsbibliothek
FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz Institute for Information Infrastructure
University Library Johann C. Senckenberg, Frankfurt on the Main
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology / KIT Library and Steinbuch Centre for Computing (SCC)
Humboldt University of Berlin / Institute of Library and Information Science
University Library Erlangen-Nuremberg

Sustainable access to digital publications – the DFG project NatHosting

Online publications licensed by publishing houses are usually made available via remote access to the publishers' servers. On the one hand, it is consequently necessary to provide protection against disturbances, but on the other hand it is also necessary to ensure that contractually agreed permanent access rights are actually granted. The goal of the DFG-funded project "National hosting of electronic resources (NatHosting)", which is managed by the Department Acquisition, Collection Development and Cataloguing 2, is to ensure permanent access to digital publications distributed by scholarly and scientific publishing houses. This is to be ensured by creating a double bottom ("hosting") which allows for the continuous provision of licensed content also in the event of a disturbance.

The following types of disturbances can be categorized:

  1. post-cancellation:  Securing purchased content when contracts are terminated
  2. transfer:  Securing purchased content when a journal's publication is continued by a different publishing house
  3. ceased operation:  The service provider ceases operation without providing a successor.
  4. publisher cannot host appropriately:  Insufficient quality of hosting by the service provider; unstable access mechanisms, in particular in the "long tail" of the library's collection spectrum (specialised titles, possibly only respectively current issue available)
  5. catastrophic failure:  Accessibility is massively, but temporarily impaired, caused by a natural disaster, for example.

Among the currently existing systems for ensuring permanent access to digital publications there are Portico and LOCKSS. Portico is a service that centrally archives digital publications on behalf of publishing houses. Portico grants libraries access to its archives in the event of a disturbance against the payment of a corresponding annual fee. LOCKSS is a software system developed in Stanford for collecting and storing contents of publishers' websites in a network of distributed servers. The so-called Private LOCKSS Network (PLN) gives institutions the opportunity to store content in a network autonomously with the aid of this software, thus ensuring that contents will remain accessible.


Due to the specific properties of Portico and LOCKSS, the project NatHosting suggests a two-tier strategy as solution:

  1. On the one hand, it is planned to negotiate a consortium agreement with Portico, which can be joined by interested libraries. In this manner, the electronic journals and part of the e-books of large-scale and medium-scale publishing houses can be covered in particular.
  2. On the other hand, it is intended to set up a national Private LOCKSS Network (PLN) in order to ensure the content not covered by Portico, concerning small-scale ("long-tail") publishing houses in particular. As a complementary measure, a computer-based rights management will be created and a hosting agency will be set up to assume coordination tasks for national hosting.

This concept was submitted to the DFG by the project partners in January 2016. In addition to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, the project partners are FIZ Karlsruhe, the University Library of Frankfurt, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the Humboldt University of Berlin and the University Library of Erlangen-Nuremberg. The follow-up project "NatHosting II", which is also funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), is focused on implementing the concept and will start on 1 April 2018.

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