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RE: Librarians who pay for nothing (Re: Economics of Green OA)

Dear Colleagues - Sandy's point about the role of endowments in 
long-term sustainability of online academic resources is well 
taken.  At Cornell, we've considered this option for arXiv (and 
continue to explore it); however, not as a sole source of income. 
Business plans need to be diversified to avoid a single point of 
failure.  SEP is certainly an inspiring case. In their ISQ 
article, Edward Zalta and Uri Nodelman eloquently describe both 
the potential and limitations of the endowments approach:


SEP's annual budget is $200,000/year whereas arXiv is a more 
complicated and evolving operation with an annual budget of 
approximately $500,000.  So if arXiv were to rely on endowment 
payouts, it would require an endowment of $10+ million.

Our goal for ensuring the long-term stability (and of course 
growth and innovation) for arXiv is building a diverse financial 
portfolio that combines contributions from libraries, research 
centers, foundations, and initiatives such as SCOAP3 - blended 
with endowment income. Stewardship of open access academic 
resources such as arXiv involves not only covering the 
operational costs but also continuing to enhance their value 
based on the needs of the user community and the evolving 
patterns and modes of scholarly communication. An integral part 
of our business planning process is assessing the technologies, 
standards, services, policies and communities that constitute 
arXiv and determining a research and innovation agenda to advance 
the service. We will continue to write grants and engage in 
collaborations to secure funds that will support research and 
development work as well as growing specific subject domains 
(such as mathematics).

We believe that open access services such as arXiv must have 
clearly defined mandates and associated governance structures to 
reflect a commitment to the long-term stewardship of a service. 
Establishing a transparent and participatory governance structure 
will thus be a critical factor in generating institutional fees 
as well as formulating a diverse financial strategy. During the 
last several months, we reviewed a range of potential legal 
status options to establish a community-based support and 
governance structure and appropriate procedures for strategic, 
operational, and fiscal oversight.  We continue our planning work 
and hope to share more information on this front in a couple of 

Best regards,


Oya Y. Rieger, Ph.D.
Associate University Librarian
Digital Scholarship Services
Cornell University Library