Friday, January 22, 2010 - Cornell Proposes Model to Support Repository

From The Chronicle of Higher Education (January 21, 2010), a "Wired Campus" blog post from Jennifer Howard: "Cornell Library Proposes New Model to Keep arXiv Going."
Cornell University Library announced today that it wants the top institutional users of to help pay for the online scientific repository. "Keeping an open-access resource like arXiv sustainable means not only covering its costs, but also continuing to enhance its value, and that kind of financial commitment is beyond a single institution's resources," Oya Rieger, Cornell's associate university librarian for information technologies, said in a statement describing the new strategy.
It costs Cornell about $400,000 a year to maintain arXiv, according to Anne R. Kenney, university librarian at Cornell. The library's annual budget runs in the $40- to $50-million range. Some 200 institutions account for about 75 percent of the download traffic on arXiv, and it's that group that Cornell hopes will pony up first. The suggested contribution for the heaviest users is $4,000. Ms. Kenney says that most of the top 25 have said they will participate.
Broader questions are raised by this eminently reasonable proposal:
  • Is this a sustainable arrangement?
  • Should there be more governmental support for this kind of repository? And if so, what kind of precedents does this establish for other fields of study? (NSF already provides significant support. See
  • How can academic institutions avoid paying for the same material in multiple formats?
UMass Amherst was 159th of the 200 most common users of arXiv in 2009, and so might be expected to bear some of the cost. Academic librarians and others are actively discussing these and related issues of access to and funding of scholarly and scientific information. Cornell asserts that arXiv will continue to be open access. More to come.