Cost Model & Annual Fees

HathiTrust’s Cost Allocation Model for Members

HathiTrust’s members share the costs of operating our services and programs.   Our annual budget includes expense elements to fund preservation and access services, administration, services of the HathiTrust Research Center, programs such as Copyright Review, U.S. Federal Documents, and the Shared Print Program, and future strategic and infrastructure investments. HathiTrust members vote to approve the total budget each year before it goes into effect.

HathiTrust’s cost allocation model is designed to equitably share costs across the membership, while also accounting for the variable benefit that individual libraries receive, which depends upon the number of copyrighted items held by their library, as well as those in HathiTrust.

Inputs to Annual Fee Calculation

  • Tier Assignment: Each member library is assigned to one of three tiers based on the member’s Total Library Expenditures as reported in public sources, such as the Integrated Postsecondary Data System (IPEDS) in the United States, the Statistical Survey of Canadian Academic and Research Libraries (CARL) in Canada, and the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) statistics in Australia and New Zealand.  Tier placement affects only the annual public domain fee assessed to a member and does not correspond to service level.

  • Public Domain and Copyrighted Items: We include two elements in each member’s total annual fees.  Each member pays a share of the cost of maintaining all the public domain materials in our collection (a “common good” portion) and a fee based on the overlap between the member’s copyrighted holdings and HathiTrust’s digitized corpus. To begin, we calculate a “cost-per-volume” that is equal to the total budget divided by the total number of volumes. In 2024, the cost-per-volume is $0.2364.

Calculating Fees

We calculate fees for public domain and copyrighted items differently.  Essentially, we allocate the proportion of the budget associated with the public domain and copyrighted items using two unique formulas.

Member and HathiTrust Holdings for Copyrighted Items

Member fees associated with the copyrighted portion of the collection are the sum total of the shared cost associated with each copyrighted volume held by HathiTrust and a given member library.   The amount assessed to a member varies by the number of members that hold a particular volume, as recorded in holdings data provided to HathiTrust by the member. For example, if the cost-per-volume were $0.20/volume, members holding a specific item would be assessed a percentage of that twenty cents for a given item.

Sharing Costs of the Collection by Volume

Sharing Costs of the Collection by Volume
Holding Library Volume Share of Holding Library Cost Allocated to Holding Library
1 100.00% $0.20
5 20.00% $0.04
20 5.00% $0.01
100 1.00% $0.002

We calculate these costs for each item in the collection; the sum of these shared costs is the copyright-related element of a member’s total fee. Members are not assessed any fee for copyrighted items in HathiTrust that they do not hold, nor are they assessed any fee for items that they hold that are not found in HathiTrust.

Membership Tier and Items in the Public Domain

41.3% of HathiTrust’s collection was in the public domain on July 1, 2023, when we calculated 2024 fees.  That same proportion of our total annual budget is divided among the entire membership according to a series of tiers.   All members in the same tier pay the same public domain fee. These amounts will vary from year to year as more members join HathiTrust and as more items are deposited and enter the public domain.

HathiTrust’s Tier System

Each member library is assigned to one of three tiers based on the member’s Total Library Expenditures as reported in public sources, such as IPEDS in the United States, and the CARL and CAUL statistics in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.  Tier placement affects only the annual public domain fee assessed to a member. Tier 2 libraries include the majority of members, who pay what is considered the “baseline” public domain fee ($7,845 in 2024). Libraries with the largest budgets (Tier 3) are assigned a higher “weight” of 1.33, and  pay a larger public domain fee (approximately 33% higher), while libraries with the smallest budgets (Tier 1) are assigned a smaller weight of 0.67 and pay a lower public domain fee (33% lower). Tiers invite a greater diversity of members to strengthen HathiTrust and the library community. All members receive the same services regardless of tier.

A member’s public domain fees are calculated by dividing the cost associated with public domain volumes by the sum of member weights, then multiplying that figure by the member’s public domain weight.

(Total Public Domain Cost / All Weights) x  Member’s Weight = Public Domain fee

Tiers have been constructed so that roughly equal numbers of members are assigned to Tier 1 and Tier 3, with the majority of the membership assigned to Tier 2.

20 percent of the membership is in tier one; 60 percent of membership is in tier 2; and 20 percent of membership is in tier 3

The following table shows how HathiTrust has defined the tiers, the number of members assigned to each tier, and the public domain fee assessed to members in each tier in 2024.

Documentation for each member’s assignment to tiers can be reviewed here.

Tiers and the Public Domain Fee in 2024
Lower Boundary (total library expenditures) Upper Boundary (total library expenditures) Members in tier PD Weight 2024 Public Domain Fee 2024 Average Total Fee
Tier 1 NA $11,599,999 81 0.67 $5,256 $6,771
Tier 2 $11,600,000 $36,999,999 101 1.00 $7,845 $13,696
Tier 3 $37,000,000 NA 26 1.33 $10,434 $44,700
State Systems Systems may include a mix of tiers; for each R1 in the system, it pays the PD fe according for that tier. varies 5 varies varies $218,408