A new JSTOR fee model option to maximize access to knowledge: A letter from Kevin Guthrie

February 9, 2023

Dear Colleagues,

I recently shared the 2023 priorities ITHAKA has set to help provide the infrastructure the academic community needs to support research, teaching, and learning in an increasingly digital world. One of our most important aims is to provide universal access to as much content as possible. We are pursuing this through a range of initiatives, including Path to Open launched last month. I am excited to share another effort today: a new archive fee model that offers libraries another option to provide comprehensive access to all of our JSTOR Archival Journal and Primary Source collections.

Through this new model, the more than 5,000 institutions that have participated in our Expanded Access Program have an affordable way to continue the level of access they’ve had during the pandemic. It is also available to institutions that are not part of this program. We spent several years researching, testing, and refining this model in collaboration with libraries, consortia leaders, and publishers, and are grateful for their thoughtful guidance and encouragement. After hundreds of conversations and meetings, we have defined an approach that supports the broadest possible access to this material in a way that is sustainable for libraries, publishers, and JSTOR.

In brief, we have created a new single collection composed of all JSTOR Archival Journal and Primary Source collections and set an annual access fee (AAF) for this full collection for each institutional classification. Institutions who opt into this model will gain immediate access to the complete collection while starting at their current AAF level plus a modest adjustment of 2%-5% that continues to be applied annually until they reach the full fee. The annual fee adjustment percentage is based on the number of collections an institution currently licenses to recognize current investment. Institutions will eventually reach the same AAF for each classification, but the number of years to reach it will vary.

We anticipate that many of the more than 5,000 institutions taking part in our Expanded Access Program will opt for this affordable approach to provide full access to all of the journals and primary source materials on an ongoing basis. Particular points that are responsive to feedback we received from the community include:

  • Making the model optional: Libraries may choose whether to opt in for immediate comprehensive access or continue with their existing collection-by-collection licenses.
  • Providing a “slow and steady” approach: Institutions choosing the new model will continue to have access to all of the journals and primary source content that they have with expanded access, but their annual fees will increase only modestly to cover JSTOR’s costs and to ensure that, over the long run, all institutions are contributing similarly to JSTOR’s long-term sustainability.
  • Delivering greater impact. This new model maximizes the amount of access and impact generated by JSTOR at current levels of revenue.

Part of JSTOR’s non-profit mission is to support the long-term preservation of the content in our care. We established the Archive Capital Fee (ACF) to provide resources so that JSTOR could fulfill that promise. We have retained and invested these funds for long-term growth, drawing on them only when needed for specific preservation activities like migrating content formats to keep apace with technology. Because of the significant support from the education community over the past 25+ years, and our careful investment of those resources, we have secured sufficient reserves to continue to preserve this content in the future. With the support of our trustees, we have therefore decided to eliminate the one-time Archive Capital Fee (ACF) for all collections and participants moving forward.

In the coming weeks, your JSTOR Outreach representative will be in touch with participants to share information about the new model specific to their institution to help inform their evaluation of this new option.

Thank you for your participation and shared commitment to improving access to knowledge and education.


Kevin Guthrie
President, ITHAKA