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Archiving Standards & Requirements

Each of the WEST archive types comes with its own set of standards and requirements for materials being added to the WEST collection. Archive Holders and Builders agree to hold, maintain, and make available the materials they commit to retain for WEST through December 31, 2035, according to the requirements for the designated Archive Type.

The WEST Standards for Issue and Volume Level Validation, the WEST Disclosure Policy, and the WEST Access Policy contain detailed information on the expectations for each archive type. The information below is an overview of the contents of those documents.

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Archive Types & Archiving Requirements

The WEST archives include three “Archive Types” that represent different risk levels and require different validation work and storage environments. Journals in the Bronze Archive Type are considered to be at the lowest risk for content loss, as they are accessible in print as well as electronic forms through trusted and stable digital repositories (CLOCKSS, Portico, and JSTOR). Journals that have some electronic availability (abstracting and indexing as well as some full text) are considered to be at a higher risk of content loss, and so undergo additional validation work during archiving to have a clear accounting of which volumes are archived and which are not yet retained (additionally, archivers actively seek out volumes that they are missing in order to fill these gaps in their collections). Journals that have little or no electronic availability are considered to be the highest risk, as loss of the physical volumes could result in total loss of the content. These journals undergo more intensive validation during archiving in order to provide a more granular accounting of what content is retained and what is needed to complete the archive.

For a summary of the three types, see Archive Types.

Environmental Standards

Archive Type



Fire Control

Light Level

Annual Time Weighted Preservation Index


Storage in a Library or Storage Facility

30-70% relative humidity and less than 80°F

Fire detection system

Not specified

Not specified


Storage facility preferred; Library open stacks acceptable but secured location preferred

30-70% relative humidity and less than 80°F

Fire detection and suppression systems

Not specified



Storage Facility preferred, or fully-enclosed and access-controlled area of Library

30-70% relative humidity and less than 75°F

Fire detection and suppression systems, with notification to responders

Light exposure limited to work hours only

70 or better, 100 preferred


Storage Facility Required

30-60% relative humidity and less than 70°F

Fire detection and suppression systems, with notification to responders

Constant light control, with lighting localized through sensors or timers

70 or better, 100 preferred

A PDF version of this table is also available for quick reference: Environmental Standards for WEST Archives

Additional best practices for storage environments are available from the Partnership For Shared Book Collections:


Journals that fall into the Silver and Gold archive types must be physically validated before being added into the WEST collection and disclosed. Silver titles are validated at the volume level for completeness, while Gold titles are validated at the issue level for both completeness and condition. The results of these activities are recorded in the holdings record. Detailed information about what validation activities are required for each Archive Type and how the outcomes of the validation should be recorded can be found in the WEST Standards for Issue and Volume Level Validation, the OCLC Shared Print Metadata Guidelines, and the Library of Congress’ Preservation & Digitization Actions: Terminology for MARC 21 Field 583.

Calls for Holdings

If Builders find that volumes are missing or damaged during the validation process, they are expected to issue “calls for holdings” to solicit replacement volumes from other WEST members that are then added to the Builders’ collections. This ensures that WEST has the most complete possible copy of a journal backfile archived and available for current and future scholars. WEST members are encouraged to contribute volumes where they are able to help support and strengthen the integrity and coverage of the WEST archives.

To help manage the calls for holdings process, WEST has templates available for tracking requests and validation outcomes. These templates are used in conjunction with committed journal title lists to analyze existing holdings, determine which institutions to request holdings from, create a request list for a single institution and collate responses from multiple institutions. These templates can also be used to collect statistics about actual volumes validated for a journal family.

In response to the call for holdings, WEST member libraries and Archive Holders/Builders may be able to readily exchange volumes to complete gaps by deaccessioning and shipping volumes; WEST does not have specific requirements about how these exchanges might occur. If some form of document is needed to complete or provide parameters to the transaction, the following templates might be useful:


All WEST-retained journal records are updated to include information about the WEST program, any validation work that has been performed, and the results of that validation work, as described in the WEST Disclosure Policy. Retention commitments are then disclosed to AGUA each year as well as to OCLC by submitting or updating records that include the necessary 583 field at least once yearly, but potentially more frequently depending on the archiver’s internal workflows. Disclosures that are submitted to AGUA are then sent on to the Center for Research Libraries by the WEST program staff for inclusion in CRL’s Print Archives Preservation Registry (PAPR).


WEST Archivers agree to make any materials they retain on behalf of WEST available through interlibrary loan to all WEST members upon request. Most requests will be fulfilled through document delivery (preferably electronically, but if necessary through physical photocopies), but if requested full volumes should be provided for in library use only at the borrower’s institution. Silver and Gold volumes that are loaned to another institution must be re-validated upon return to ensure the ongoing integrity of the collection and accuracy of the journal record disclosure notes. See the Access page and the WEST Access Policy for more detailed guidelines and instructions on how to lend and borrow WEST archived materials.