ITHAKA announced today a new set of services to help academic, research, and cultural institutions easily and affordably share, preserve, and manage their local digital collections. Using the same infrastructure that powers ITHAKA’s nonprofit services JSTOR and Portico, institutions can now increase the reach and usefulness of their local digital collections, secure access for generations to come, and further the mission they share with one another and ITHAKA to improve access to knowledge worldwide.
“Research and learning increasingly take place online, so institutions need solutions that align their local collections to digital workflows, are interoperable with a variety of tools, and are actively preserved as technology advances,” said Bruce Heterick, VP, Open Collections & Infrastructure at ITHAKA. “We created JSTOR and Portico to do exactly this for more than 100,000 journals and books held by libraries, and are excited to extend the use of this infrastructure to help institutions get their local digital collections more effectively into existing research and teaching workflows affordably, efficiently, and at scale.”
Following a successful series of pilots during which over 300 institutions shared more than 1,800 collections on JSTOR, and a cohort of 40 partners helped to define preservation and collection loading needs, ITHAKA developed three services to support institutions of all sizes looking for high-impact, sustainable solutions. Institutions can now:
- Share collections on JSTOR, making it possible for millions of users to discover and use content alongside a rich trove of journals, books, images, and other primary source collections while bringing greater visibility to institutions.
- Preserve collections with Portico to safeguard the accessibility and usability of digital files in the long term, addressing the needs of tomorrow’s scholars.
- Manage collections using JSTOR Forum, a web-based tool that makes it easy to catalog, edit metadata, and publish to JSTOR and other sites – all in one place.
With more than 14,000 institutions participating in JSTOR worldwide, ITHAKA is excited by the potential impact of the new services. Southwestern University was among the first to sign on to the new offering. During the pilot, they saw early success from their materials being on the JSTOR platform when a collection of aerial photographs received 1,980 total item requests in the first few days after its launch.
“The aerials were such a nice collection to use for the beta because they had been scanned for a long time. Previously, the only way people could use them was to come here to the reading room and access them online,” said Megan Firestone, Head of Special Collections and Archives, Southwestern University. “Using the collection loader, we were able to put them on JSTOR and the community has been very receptive to being able to see these images without a trip to the Special Collections & Archives.”
Southwestern’s experience was not unique. Throughout the pilot, the average item requests per collection on JSTOR increased 30% yearly. In the first weeks since formally announcing the new services to pilot participants, nearly a third have signed on to one or more of the services. Overall, collections contributed during the pilot were accessed 1.4 million times by users from more than 10,300 institutions worldwide.
Asked about the decision to continue with the paid service, Firestone added, “We can show usage stats, what we were able to upload, how it aligns with our workflow, and the fact that this allows the students to access the materials more easily and efficiently. With this tool, we can use the data and connect it all back to the students, and that really makes the case for funding.”
Institutions can use the full set of infrastructure services or pick and choose based on their needs. Service fees are scaled using Carnegie Classifications starting at $1,200 per year, with an option for ITHAKA to regularly harvest collections from repositories like CONTENTdm, Digital Commons, Islandora, Internet Archive, DSpace, Omeka, Preservica, LUNA, and Alma Digital for an additional $1,000.
Making the services affordable and sustainable is part of ITHAKA’s nonprofit mission. The fee models for these services were developed with extensive input from pilot participants and align with ITHAKA’s ongoing efforts to balance cost recovery and product sustainability with affordability for institutions.
The library community will have an opportunity to learn more about ITHAKA’s infrastructure services and other important initiatives at booth #4834 during the American Library Association’s (ALA) 2023 annual conference in Chicago on June 22-27. All others can request more information online at about.jstor.org/advance.