Help - Cost Model

Costs are comprised of two elements: first, partners pay an evenly distributed share of the cost to support public domain volumes in HathiTrust; second, partners pay a share of the cost of in-copyright volumes that overlap with volumes held in their print collections. See also our main page about Cost.

Costs and Partnership

How are costs in the new model determined?

Costs are determined on the basis of several “fixed” elements (designed to pay for basic repository work) that are calculated on a yearly basis, and one adjustable element (designed to pay for programmatic activities). The fixed elements are:

  • The number of public domain volumes in HathiTrust
  • The number of in copyright volumes in a partner’s print holdings that overlap with HathiTrust digital holdings. These calculations include print volumes that are, or were previously held by the partner institution.
  • The number of partners that hold a particular in copyright volume
  • The total number of partners
  • The basic infrastructure costs for preserving volumes in HathiTrust. For 2012, this works out to approximately $0.19 per volume per year. 

The adjustable element is a flexible multiplier whose purpose is to generate surplus to develop new services and functionality for HathiTrust. The HathiTrust Executive Committee has determined that a multiplier value of 1.5 yields a surplus that is sufficient to support current programmatic activities. The Executive Committee will review this value periodically.

What are some examples of cost calculations for public domain and in-copyright volumes?

The costs for public domain volumes in HathiTrust are divided equally among the partners and are calculated using the following formula:

Cost = (PD*1.5*C)/N

Example: Assuming 2 million public domain volumes, a cost multiplier of 1.5, $0.19 on average per volume stored, and 62 partners, the cost to each institution for the public domain volumes would be:

(2,000,000*1.5*.19)/62 = $9,193.55

The costs for in copyright volumes in HathiTrust are divided among the partners who have those volumes in their print holdings (as above, in this model, “held” volumes include volumes that were previously held by the partner institution). Costs on a per-volume basis are calculated according to the following formula:

Cost = (IC *1.5*C)/H

Example: Assuming a partner has 2 million in-copyright print volumes that overlap with digital volumes in HathiTrust, a cost multiplier of 1.5, $0.19 on average per volume stored, and, for the sake of demonstration, that all of the 2 million the volumes are held by 12 other institutions, the cost to the partner would be:

(2,000,000*1.5*.19)/12 = $47,500.00

The total cost to the partner for 2012 would be a sum of these values, or $56,693.55

Who sets the flexible multiplier and how are decisions made about how large the surplus should be over time? Who determines what services are developed?

The Executive Committee sets the flexible multiplier, monitors the size of the surplus, and approves the allocation of funds for the development of services. The Executive Committee solicits input from member institutions, the Strategic Advisory Board, and other HathiTrust working groups and committees.

If a new partner joined with a significant amount of unique public domain volumes (e.g., 1 million volumes), could costs rise unexpectedly for all institutions?

Costs would rise, but it is important to keep in mind that the costs would be spread across all institutions. For example, given 2012 cost projections, a multiplier value of 1.5, and 62 participating institutions, the addition of 1 million unique public domain volumes accessible to all partners would increase the cost per institution by $4,596.77 in 2012. Note that in this case, with the addition of a substantial amount of content, the per-volume costs would also drop because we would achieve greater economies of scale across the repository. The Executive Committee is responsible for reviewing the impact of significant changes such as this, and has strategies at its disposal to mitigate their effect, for instance reducing the value of the flexible multiplier to lower the costs to each institution.

Would an entity be charged for volumes that had been held (were deaccessioned) by participating campuses or libraries?

The model calls for the inclusion in the holdings database of volumes that institutions hold now, or once held in their print collections. The model is designed to allow institutions to make decisions about their print collections, including withdrawing volumes, and still make lawful preservation and access uses of corresponding volumes in HathiTrust. Institutions would need to continue to support the curation of digital surrogates in HathiTrust to receive benefits in relation to print volumes that they withdrew from their collections, consolidated, moved to shared holdings, etc.

Have any tests been run on the new cost model to see how it compares to the current model?

The two models have fundamentally different rationales, one based on the amount deposited and the other based on benefits received from the digital collection. We are able to estimate costs in the new model using approximate values, including collection size. For example, based on what we know about collection overlap and the costs of storage, in the new model the cost to an institution with 3 million volumes in its print holdings would be around $27,365.32 in 2012. In the period leading up to 2013, we expect to see both an increase in content and an increase in partner institutions, factors that will offset each other. Prior to 2013, the ongoing development of the holdings database will help refine our sense of costs to partners.

How does this cost model relate to other kinds of content (such as licensed ebooks and other types of works)?

HathiTrust’s cost model is focused on sharing in the costs of curation, including lawful uses of corresponding volumes. It is not a subscription package. While the costs of e-book packages are market-driven, costs in HathiTrust are determined by the costs of infrastructure components, characteristics of objects (size and specifications), and the shared value that institutions see in preserving and providing access to materials in a “collective” collection.

What is the term of partners’ agreements under the new model. If an institution were to withdraw, would this be done at the time of renewal?

Although the second term of HathiTrust will be finalized through the 2011 Constitutional Convention, we currently plan to organize the second phase of HathiTrust around a five-year term and to ask institutions to commit to partnership for the duration of that five-year period.

Holdings Database

The holdings database may prove difficult to implement and costs difficult to calculate. It is also possible that the holdings database could become difficult to manage over time, particularly with regard to issues of deaccessioning, shared holdings and consolidation of print holdings at a particular institution, campus or facility. What contingency plans exist in light of these challenges?

Although we will make every effort to construct a reliable representation of associated partner holdings, should the holdings database prove too challenging to develop or maintain, we will consider other alternatives. For example, basing costs on an institution’s volume count, median rates of overlap, and a standard cost per in copyright volume will allow us to approximate the new cost model.

Incentives and Services

What incentives are there for an institution to join HathiTrust under the new cost model?

The primary incentives for institutions are cost-effective long-term preservation and access services for digitized content.

  • Long-term commitments on digital content facilitate decision-making at institutional and consortial levels about digitization efforts and print collections management.
  • Preservation services include bit-level preservation, migration, and persistent identifiers and linking.
  • Access services include bibliographic and full-text search of all materials (public domain and in-copyright), full viewing and downloading abilities for public domain materials and those for which we have received permissions, collection-building tools, and access to public domain and in-copyright materials for users with print disabilities. Additionally, HathiTrust facilitates other lawful uses of in copyright materials such as those afforded by US copyright law such as Section 108 (print replacement copies, digital access to applicable works).
HathiTrust also encourages participation in initiatives and resources geared toward shared collection development and management (e.g., copyright review work, print holdings database, de-duplication, collaboration with other organizations and initiatives), participation in governance and collaborative initiatives, and defining future directions of the shared library.


Don’t the disability and replacement services seem more suited to transactional costs?

HathiTrust was created for, and designed around, the provision of member services for collectively curated digital content. Though this does not rule out one day building transactional services, none are currently planned.

Isn’t Section 108 print replacement relatively rare?

Materials printed before 1990 are in the process of decay and estimates of brittleness for early- to mid-20th century materials are significant. The preservation value of large numbers of volumes stored in HathiTrust are already apparent and will only increase with time.