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Digital Commonwealth was founded eleven years ago by a group of librarians committed to helping organizations across the state digitize their cultural and historical collections. Since that time, the organization has essentially functioned as a volunteer organization with the help in recent years of a temporary librarian, who provides membership administration, and some outside professional services (accounting, tax filing, etc.). Because volunteers have carried out so much of the work, institutional fees for joining Digital Commonwealth have remained flat all these eleven years. Consequently, many librarians consider institutional membership to be a bargain for all of the value that we offer in the area of digitization services for cultural institutions across Massachusetts.

Not surprisingly, Digital Commonwealth has grown dramatically over the years due to our success. We now have over 180 member institutions and are in a position to grow even more. With this growth, the administration of our organization has become increasingly complex, to the point where we can no longer rely solely on volunteers to manage the intricacies of running an organization as large as ours. More and more cultural institutions are realizing the central importance of digitizing their collections, and Digital Commonwealth has been a leader in helping them navigate these waters. The needs for training, constant updates in technological advances, and techniques for working with and publicizing digital collections are ever increasing, and our organization is well positioned to support member institutions at an even greater level.

The time has come in the growth of Digital Commonwealth to change the fee structure for membership in our organization, so that we can address both our current needs and those of the future. We have been operating on a flat budget for the last few years, and we are beginning to see trends that point towards our expenses outstripping revenue. To lessen the institutional impact of raising our membership fee, we are offering more tiers of membership, based on an institution’s budget, and we are phasing in the increases over two years, beginning July 1, 2017. The first year’s increase will help us cover the costs of professional services, including increased assistance from an accounting firm. The increase in the second year will allow us to provide improved budgets for the various committees that serve our members, including the Conference Committee and Outreach and Education Committee. In addition, it may become necessary for Digital Commonwealth to begin paying an annual membership fee to the Digital Public Library of America (which harvests Digital Commonwealth collections), as they institute a new membership model.

We have also added a new, low-cost, introductory membership option for volunteer-run institutions. We want to encourage these types of organizations to be part of Digital Commonwealth by removing the potential obstacle of cost. They would receive a first-year rate of $25 and thereafter an annual rate of $50.

We believe that even with increases, the fee to join our organization is modest and still represents one of the best bargains in library services. Please review the new membership options presented below. If you have any questions, feedback, or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at membership@digitalcommonwealth.org.

New Fee Structure

FY2018

Volunteer Institution Membership (no paid staff)

  • Volunteer Institution introductory rate – $25
  • Volunteer Institution annual rate – $50

Regular Membership

  • Level 1 (annual budget up to $49,999) – $75
  • Level 2 (annual budget between $50k and $99k) – $100
  • Level 3 (annual budget between $100k and $499k) – $150
  • Level 4 (annual budget between $500k and $999k) – $200
  • Level 5 (annual budget between $1 million and $1.99 million) – $275
  • Level 6 (annual budget more than $2 million)  $400
  • Group Sustaining Organizations – $500

FY2019

Volunteer Institution Membership (no paid staff)

  • Volunteer Institution introductory rate – $25
  • Volunteer Institution annual rate – $50

Regular Membership

  • Level 1 (annual budget up to $49,999) – $75
  • Level 2 (annual budget between $50k and $99k) – $100
  • Level 3 (annual budget between $100k and $499k) – $200
  • Level 4 (annual budget between $500k and $999k) – $350
  • Level 5 (annual budget between $1 million and $1.99 million) – $500
  • Level 6 (annual budget more than $2 million OR Group Sustaining Organizations) – $750

Note: “Annual budget” = the overall budget for your library and archives (materials and staff) or for entire organizations that lack a separate library and archives. Academic institutions should use the budget for all of their institution’s libraries and archives. Group sustaining organizations are networks that plan to work with and assist their own membership in joining Digital Commonwealth.

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