[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Ithaka-JISC study on sustainability


International case studies reveal innovative strategies for 
financing digital resources in the non-profit sector

July 15, 2009, New York and London Tens of millions of dollars, 
pounds and euros are invested each year by government agencies 
and private foundations to develop and support digital resources 
in the not-for-profit sector.

As institutional budgets tighten, will these digital resources be 
able to survive and thrive? A new study, released today by Ithaka 
S+R and the JISC-led Strategic Content Alliance, illustrates the 
varied and creative ways in which leaders of digital initiatives, 
particularly those developed in the higher education and cultural 
heritage sectors, are managing to identify sources of support and 
generate revenue.

Ithaka Case Studies in Sustainability consists of twelve examples 
of digital resource projects and a final report, Sustaining 
Digital Resources: An On-the-Ground View of Projects Today, 
written by Ithaka S+R analysts Nancy L. Maron, K. Kirby Smith and 
Matthew Loy.

The work was jointly funded by JISC's Strategic Content Alliance 
in the UK and the National Endowment for the Humanities and the 
National Science Foundation in the United States. The full report 
and case studies are available online and open for comment:


The case studies provide a rare glimpse into the strategies of 
twelve digital initiatives across Europe, the Middle East and 
North America-ranging from an online scholarly encyclopedia of 
philosophy to an image licensing operation at the Victoria and 
Albert Museum.

Each case is extensively researched, drawing from interviews with 
key stakeholders of the organization, and details the costs and 
revenues that each project generates, while illustrating the 
decision-making process that underlies these strategies.

Dr Malcolm Read, JISC's Executive Secretary said, "These case 
studies demonstrate the innovative and dynamic approaches for 
universities and others to sustain digital resources online in 
the most cost effective way."

The final report serves as a guide to the cases, and argues that 
sustainability entails much more than simply covering the costs 
of putting a resource online.  Equally important is ensuring the 
ongoing development of the resource to suit the continually 
evolving needs of its users. The paper presents a framework for 
thinking about sustainability, outlining the five stages that 
successful projects must undertake in developing sustainability 
models: from acquiring a deep understanding of users and their 
needs, to thinking broadly about the range of revenue models that 
might be possible.

The studies also demonstrate that, while many projects are 
attempting to generate some revenue through subscription, 
pay-per-view, and a range of licensing arrangements, their 
overall financial picture still depends heavily on receiving 
direct as well as in-kind support from the institutions that host 

The work is part of a long term examination into the 
sustainability of digital content, supported by the JISC-led 
Strategic Content Alliance  in the UK, and builds upon the 2008 
Ithaka Report, Sustainability and Online Revenue Models for 
Online Academic Resources. "Supporting digital content online is 
a challenge every sector is grappling with and we are just now 
starting to see patterns emerge in terms of how these initiatives 
are being financed and managed," according to Laura Brown, 
Executive Vice President, Ithaka S+R. "We hope that by examining 
projects that appear to be thriving, we can begin to identify 
models that will work best to support these tremendously valuable 


The projects that served as subjects for the case studies 

* BOPCRIS Digitisation Centre, Hartley Library, University of 
Southampton (UK)
* Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London 
* DigiZeitschriften, Goettingen State and University Library 
* eBird, Information Science Department, Cornell Lab of 
Ornithology, Cornell University (US)
* Electronic Enlightenment, Bodleian Library, University of 
Oxford (UK)
* Hindawi Publishing Corporation (Egypt)
* Inamediapro and ina.fr, L'Institut national de l'audiovisuel 
* Licensed Internet Associates Program, The National Archives 
* Middle School Portal 2: Math and Science Pathways, National 
Science Digital Library (US)
* Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University (US)
* Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, University of California, Irvine 
* V&A Images, Victoria and Albert Museum (UK)

The Strategic Content Alliance is a JISC-led initiative in 
partnership with the BBC, Becta, British Library, MLA and NHS 
committed to delivering a co-coordinated framework of principles 
and best practice for the provision of online content for UK 
citizens. Funded as part of JISC's Capital programs, it began in 
March 2006, concluded its phase of work in March 2009, and will 
conclude its second phase of activity in July 2011. Its aim is to 
build a common information environment where users of publicly 
funded e-content can gain best value from the investment that has 
been made by reducing the barriers that currently inhibit access, 
use and re-use of online content

Ithaka S+R (http://www.ithaka.org/ithaka-s-r) is the strategy and 
research arm of Ithaka, a not-for-profit organization dedicated 
to helping the academic community use digital technologies to 
preserve the scholarly record and to advance research and 
teaching in sustainable ways. The Ithaka S+R team supports 
innovation in higher education by working with initiatives and 
organizations to develop sustainable business models and by 
conducting research and analysis on the impact of digital media 
on the academic community as a whole. Insights from these efforts 
are shared broadly, with more than a dozen reports freely 
available online. JSTOR and Portico - two efforts to increase 
access to scholarly materials and preserve them for future 
generations - are also part of Ithaka.