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

Cornell University Library is committed to maintaining arXiv as 
an open-access resource that anyone may use to download and read 
articles as well as allowing submissions free so that all 
appropriate articles can be accepted from a broad range of 
international scientists. This has been the key operating 
principle of arXiv. During the initial business planning process, 
we have considered many possible support options that are 
compatible with our mission. These include sponsorship and 
advertising; donations; endowment; creation of "freemium" 
services; and support from funding bodies, scholarly and 
professional societies, and publishers. We have not ruled out the 
possibility of accepting donations from users (both readers and 
submitters), but not as the core source of revenue. We see this 
potential stream as a part of a diverse portfolio of funds.

Also, the main purpose of establishing a governance group for 
arXiv is to provide a collaborative framework to facilitate 
further advancement of arXiv informed by the needs of the 
scientists.  It is not merely for financial management purposes.

Best, - Oya

-----Original Message-----
From: Joseph Esposito [mailto:espositoj@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 10:54 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Re: Librarians who pay for nothing (Re: Economics of Green OA)

For arXiv have you considered charging a modest fee for 
researchers to upload articles to the service, say, $50?  This 
fee can be much lower than that charged for PLOS or Sage Open 
among others because arXiv does not have an editorial review 
program that rejects many articles. The service would still be 
open access.

I did a back-of-the-envelope projection on this a few years ago, 
working with numbers that IO had seen somewhere.  As I recall, 
the assumption was that the number of articles submitted would 
drop by 10% and that the resultant annual revenue would come to 
$2.5 million. Please correct me if these numbers seem crazy; I am 
working from memory.

Of course, with revenue of that magnitude, arXiv could also 
expand further; and it would also free up funds at philanthropies 
and universities that were asked to support arXiv, money that 
could be put to use elsewhere.

arXiv is a great service for the community it serves.  I don't 
see why a modest submission should not be on the table for 

Incidentally, moving to this plan would significantly reduce the 
overhead, paid or otherwise, of managing arXiv.  No need for all 
those governance committees, all that time that would have to go 
into fairness issues.  A submission payment system can be 
completely automated; bits are free.  Committees, on the other 
hand, are not free and have a way of spawning even more 

Joe Esposito

On Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 6:19 PM, Oya Yildirim Rieger
<oyr1@cornell.edu> wrote:

> 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:
> http://www.niso.org/publications/isq/free/OP_Zalta_Nodelman_Stanford_isqv22no4.pdf
> 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
> months.
> Best regards,
> Oya
> Oya Y. Rieger, Ph.D.
> Associate University Librarian
> Digital Scholarship Services
> Cornell University Library
> http://vivo.cornell.edu/individual/vivo/individual23129