Sustaining Digital Resources: An On-the-Ground View of Projects Today

Ithaka has released Sustaining Digital Resources: An On-the-Ground View of Projects Today.

Here's an excerpt:

In a multi-phase programme that began in late 2007, Ithaka studied the factors influencing the sustainability of not-for-profit digital resources. In a report issued in 2008, Sustainability and Revenue Models for Online Academic Resources, we examined factors that leaders of online initiatives face when developing sustainability plans for their content-based projects. The report presented overall guidelines for leaders to consider, as well as detailed descriptions of the success drivers and challenges for a range of different revenue models. In two workshops held in London and New York in the spring of 2008, Ithaka staff met with project leaders, programme officers at foundations and library administrators to discuss the report's findings. A strong consensus emerged that the framework and guidelines would be even more useful if tested against real-world examples illustrating the range of theoretical business models the report described. While Sustainability and Revenue Models presented the theory, readers wanted to see how the models were working in practice. How did project leaders define their mission and revenue goals? What steps did they take to develop revenue-generating and cost-management strategies? How did these align with the organisations' missions? To what extent were certain models successful, and how did project leaders define that success? Where were they running into problems?

Based on the community's interest in seeing concrete examples, we embarked on an exploration of the sustainability models of 12 selected digital resources. Our goal is to help illuminate the ways in which the general principles outlined in the first report play out in the real world, as well as to highlight lessons for leaders of other digital projects and other stakeholders in the community. Of course, there is no formula that will guarantee a project's sustainability, but as these case studies demonstrate, there are certain steps that leaders can take to maximise the value a project creates and to leverage that value to better position a resource for success.