Thursday, November 16, 2023

NDSA Sustainability Excellence Award

Yesterday, at the DigiPres conference, Vicky Reich and I were awarded a "Sustainability Excellence Award" by the National Digital Stewardship Alliance. This is a tribute to the sustained hard work of the entire LOCKSS team over more than a quarter-century.

Below the fold are the citation and our response.


2023 marks a significant date for the LOCKSS Program: It is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the friendly hikes in Joseph Grant State Park and Big Basin where Victoria Reich and Dr. David S.R.[sic] Rosenthal first conceived of LOCKSS, “lots of copies keeps stuff safe,” as a guiding principle for long-term access and preservation to digital library resources. It is also the twentieth anniversary of the transition of the LOCKSS project from beta testing in 2002 to full production release. In the words of the duo’s nominator, “Even if you don’t know David Rosenthal and Vicky Reich by name, you’ve almost certainly heard their rallying cry for digital preservation: Lots Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe. This ethos has informed digital preservation best practices since its introduction, and has shaped the design and implementation of the LOCKSS open-source software.”

David Rosenthal and Vicky Reich’s brainchild—and the enduring preservation networks that it has made possible—was at the leading edge of a global wave of digital preservation initiatives in the early 20th century. The effectiveness and reliability of LOCKSS software has been validated through rigorous third-party evaluation, including ongoing certification of the CLOCKSS archive as a trustworthy digital repository under the TRAC standard since 2014. The LOCKSS project has provided enduring proof of the concept that large-scale digital preservation work can be accomplished cost-effectively and with community benefits (not vendor profits) as the primary driver.

Rosenthal and Reich’s work on LOCKSS stands as a benchmark against which other approaches to digital preservation and persistent access to digital resources are measured.


The LOCKSS Program was 25 years old last month. Vicky and David would like to thank:
  • The international user community and Stanford staff who are using, evolving and improving the software.
  • Our far sighted funders who got the program up and running — Michael Lesk at the NSF and then Don Waters at the Mellon Foundation.
  • And three brilliant Stanford Computer Science PhD students who provided the award winning science behind the technology — Mema Roussopoulos, Petros Maniatis and TJ Giuli.
We learned many lessons over the two decades we worked on the program, none of them a surprise to anyone in the preservation business. Two that are key. For a program to survive the long term it is critical to:
  • Build and nurture relationships, among the staff, among the user community, and with the funders.
  • Document, document, document. Write it down, whatever it is. Over a quarter-century it is easy to forget things such as "why was it done this way?".
We are honored by and grateful for this award, and happy that the program we left for our new career as full-time grandparents is flourishing in good hands.


Dragan Espenschied said...

Congrats, well deserved!!

Selvakumaran Krishnan said...

The NDSA Sustainability Excellence Award is a beacon illuminating outstanding commitment to environmental responsibility. Recognizing pioneers who weave sustainability into their DNA, inspiring a brighter, greener future for all.

Alicia Wise said...

Extremely well deserved! Thank you for your leadership!