This work builds on Diane M. Zorich’s CLIR report titled, “A Survey of Digital Cultural Heritage Initiatives and Their Sustainability Concerns” published in June 2003. While there is some overlap in the institutions surveyed, the Zorich report focuses more on independent, free-standing organizations and associations that work in tandem with libraries and museums rather than digital asset programs within libraries or museums. It is interesting, however, how many parallel themes emerge across the two studies in regard to business planning.
Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum, Cornell University Mann Library, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Indiana University Bloomington Library, Nebraska Historical Society, Museum Online Archive of California, Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives, University of Michigan Library, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Library, University of Southern California Library, University of Virginia Library, Washington Research Library Consortium.
Strategic planning is a very familiar process to museums and libraries. So is long range planning. However, it is generally the case that the process stops short of business or operating planning. This is in part due to a faulty assumption that a non profit organization is not supposed to work in a business like way. But a business plan does not have to be premised on making a profit. Nor do revenue opportunities have to conflict with the mission or values of the organization. In the case of a university library, it may only charge for fines or book replacement costs, but a private university library also may charge for access for unaffiliated users. This is an example of a revenue stream that may illustrate the value placed on free library services for those within the university and the secondary value placed on external library users. The digital asset management program often lives as a sub-unit within a larger organization. The larger organization has a planning process that should include the digital asset management program, and the digital asset management program or unit can also have its own strategic plan and business plan that supports its sustainability within the context of the parent organization.
This is an overview, and I’ll take a closer look at each element later in this presentation
What audience is a core audience, and what service for the core audience is essential according to the mission? Do organizational values permit charging to the core audience? How about charging outside that core audience? How about charging for services that are not core, even if the service is attractive to the core audience? These are strategic questions related to mission, vision, and values, and they drive the creation of goals that require a business plan.
Look at the product mix as a way to set prices, if that is appropriate. Or, provide part of the product mix free and charge for other parts of the mix.
As a library director, I hear a lot of anecdotal information rather than real market research from reference librarians, who have a great deal of professional confidence about what users need or want. I suggest it is best to ask users to tell you. Trust and respect your users and visitors. Listen to them and balance that against professional assumptions about needs. They might or might not be the same.
On the other hand, museums do quite a bit of market research, and know more about who comes and why. But things are changing. The internet is changing visitor expectations. There are now several small studies proving that the inclination to visit rises, or actual visits rise, when digital collections and information about the collections, is on the museum website.
This is probably another area where museums are better strategically than libraries are. Libraries have a longstanding culture of interlibrary collaboration that extends beyond loans of items in their collections. Libraries usually do not have to compete with each other for funding. Museums have an institutional culture that is influenced more by competition for the visitor and less on a culture of inter-institutional collaboration. So it seems answering these questions would more likely occur to museums when making decisions about digital asset creation and management. The commercial sector can be a valuable partner, and not just for underwriting. One university library is partnering with a commercial provider for some aspects of the business plan in exchange for a limited license.
Denver Public Library has a very good revenue stream from production of high quality prints, with the general public as the audience. Cornell’s digital production and consulting office has an internal pricing structure. http://www.library.cornell.edu/dcaps/
We are surprised at the limited number of experienced institutions that look at ALL costs.
The library, set as a central resource for a campus, is positioned for one of these two models of managing digital assets. One is clearly more inclined toward generation of revenue than the other, and the implications of these models are substantial. While museums may not at first think either of these models applies, we note that one of the most successful organizations providing digital asset management consulting and service in our interviewing process was a historical society that set itself up as a regional resource, emulating the first model. Cornell’s DCAPS is an interesting model for the former model. Smalller institutions tend to adopt the second model.
Access to web-based information does not have to be free. There can be members-only sections, with access to digital exhibitions serving as another incentive for member recruitment or persistence. Web based resources can be managed in a way that generates sales from value added service such as generation of high quality prints. Denver Public Library is a good example of that. Each institution in a collaborative doesn’t have to invest in the printing infrastructure, or the sales system; costs could be shared.
Communication costs money, but it makes money. Find the balance and build it into the business plan. Museums will be inclined to do all these things, but libraries are not widely engaged in more than one or two in each category.
The operations component of a plan varies according to the nature of each digital asset program or service. A consulting service is very different from a digital production program. But all involve knowledge of some elements, such as these, especially the latter, which is easy enough to delay or ignore.
Having the right level of staffing is important, but so is an ongoing assessment of expertise needed. This is of course one of the most challenging aspects of working in the digital asset world. It is rapidly changing and hard to project over the course of a multi-year business plan. At least identify elements likely to change and build in a review process for the plan itself. Rights and other legal matters can be tremendous barriers, and can involve costs such as legal counsel. It is an important element of the business plan to establish the organization’s level of comfort with risks associated with the wide-open interpretive arena of fair use. Educate yourselves with access to the published information on the topic.
Exploratorium has an web site area on its website under “support” http://www.exploratorium.org/support/sponsorship/index.html
Even though grants require assessment, most applicants write about web hits, use level measures, or usability studies that gauge the user’s interaction with the site. It is much harder to design evaluation programs that measure the impact of the product or service on the user. Rather than asking only how often a resource is used, we all need to ask (and discover) how our resources online are changing lives, effecting learning, or stimulating the economy.
There are more elements of shared infrastructure out there; for instance, Florida Center for Library Automation is working on a system of shared digital object archiving for member universities, and the California Digital Library and its MOAC program is solving barriers to searching across archival collections.
Because different types of organizations have somewhat different values, use different terminology, and operate with different fiscal assumptions, communication is essential, and it works best if all collaborators are at the table from the outset of the collaborative program. Museums and libraries really have substantial differences. Museum inventory systems are not generally for public view; libraries put their catalogs on the web. Museums would not dream of indicating the location of any object in its collection in public metadata; libraries use call numbers to promote self-discovery. Museums value interpretive exhibits; libraries value the independent judgment of library users and try to keep to description not interpretation. On this latter point, we are learning that web users value the library catalog method of discovery for certain types of work while valuing the online exhibit with expert interpretation for other types of work. Both can coexist on the website, and this is an example where museum and library collaborators can learn from each other with adequate communication.
Rather than looking for a magic bullet, or a fountain of funds, business planning helps us look for savings, opportunities to share costs, and plan for the increasing centrality of digital asset management in the digital age.
It is not the curators or librarians who define the value of our digital cultural heritage resources, it is the visitors and users of those resources. Public funding is more likely to flow to our efforts when we emphasize data on visitor/user-defined outcomes. How did we help change lives, improve society, or create learning environments. The more people demand digital expressions of work, the more funding will be available. The more likely it is that the physical library and museum will co-exist with digital interpretations of those worlds. The web is used for preparation for a visit and for followup after a visit. It promotes appreciation for what the library or museum does in the community. So, how essential will digital collections and services be?
This is happening slowly, with the museum or library funding, from its operating budget, some aspects of digital asset management support, usually general infrastructure, equipment, or personnel. Generalizing, this is merely a subsidy for grant funded activity. But as time passes, the subsidy seems to be more extensive, especially in research libraries. Will museums follow this trend if economic conditions permit?
Sustainability Business Planning for Cultural Heritage ...
Sustainability Business Planning for Cultural Heritage Digital Asset Programs
<ul><li>Business Planning for Cultural Heritage Institutions : A framework and resource guide to assist cultural heritage institutions with business planning for sustainability of digital asset management programs. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>by Liz Bishoff and Nancy Allen, January 2004 </li></ul></ul>
Case Analysis, and a Template <ul><li>The template will model sustainability planning for cultural heritage organizations to use in moving digitization from projects to programs </li></ul><ul><li>The case studies illustrate the template with real examples and provide a look at current trends in sustainability models </li></ul>
The Investigation of Current Practice <ul><li>Telephone survey covering each area of a business plan template </li></ul><ul><li>Respondents : libraries, museums, and historical societies with several years of experience in digital asset management </li></ul><ul><li>Selected to represent independent as well as collaborative initiatives </li></ul>
Business Plan is Part of Strategic Planning Process <ul><li>Business plan must fit the mission and values of the organization </li></ul><ul><li>Business plans for the museum or library AND its digital asset initiatives fit together </li></ul>Vision for Success Operating Plan Business Plan Strategic Plan Stakeholder Analysis Mission SWOT Analysis Internal Constraints
More than a Budget <ul><li>A budget is usually an annual financial plan </li></ul><ul><li>A business plan is longer term and reflects organizational sustainability strategies </li></ul><ul><li>A business plan includes budget information </li></ul>
Getting started <ul><li>Everyone starts with a grant </li></ul><ul><li>Not all projects turn into programs </li></ul><ul><li>Most museums & libraries are not yet planning sustainability for digitization activites </li></ul><ul><li>Few written business plans exist, but most DO have the information to write one. </li></ul>
Business Plan Elements <ul><li>Mission, vision, values & goals </li></ul><ul><li>Executive summary </li></ul><ul><li>Product or service description </li></ul><ul><li>Market research (needs assessment) </li></ul><ul><li>Environment & competition </li></ul><ul><li>Pricing, if appropriate </li></ul>
Business Plan Elements <ul><li>Distribution </li></ul><ul><li>Communication / PR </li></ul><ul><li>Organizational structure </li></ul><ul><li>Operations (facilities, equipment, management & staffing, legal) </li></ul><ul><li>Financials </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation & usability </li></ul>
Mission, vision, values, goals <ul><li>What is the organization’s purpose? </li></ul><ul><li>Nonprofit memory institutions struggle with the apparent conflict between the public good and the need for financial sustainability. </li></ul><ul><li>Are digital assets or services to be free or should there be a fee? </li></ul>
Mission, vision, values, goals <ul><li>In many cases, fees for services outside the primary audience, market or community are charged </li></ul><ul><li>OR, basic services are free, extras can be for a fee </li></ul>
Product or Service Description <ul><li>Decide if it is core to the mission, or value added . Pricing and business planning flow from there. </li></ul><ul><li>Is it part of a product mix ? Is the digital collection accompanied with educational resources or a school outreach plan? </li></ul>
Market Research <ul><li>Few libraries do market research in the classic business sense, and assume they know what is in the best interest of library users. </li></ul><ul><li>Can do focus groups, point of use surveys, web surveys, etc. to find out what users/visitors want . </li></ul>
Market Research <ul><li>Many museums are expert at market research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The internet is changing visitor/user expectations. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research: Visits INCREASE when digital images are on the website </li></ul></ul><ul><li>http://www.cdpheritage.org/resource/workshops/documents/lead_loomis_ppt.pdf </li></ul>
Website Use and Perceived Intentions to Visit <ul><li>Using a library website was perceived as likely to increase visits (62%) </li></ul><ul><li>Using a museum website was perceived as likely to increase visits (70%) </li></ul><ul><li>Using the website for the host institution was perceived as likely to increase visits (85%) </li></ul><ul><li>Use of library websites by others was perceived as likely to increase visits (67%) </li></ul><ul><li>Use of museum websites by others was perceived as likely to increase visits (74%) </li></ul><ul><li>six point scale from very likely increase to very likely decrease </li></ul><ul><li>From: Loomis, Elias, and Wells’ study posted on the CDP website </li></ul>
Environment & Competition <ul><li>If offering a service, find out who else also offers something similar </li></ul><ul><li>If capturing images of collections , find out who else has done work in the same area </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t forget to look in the commercial sector </li></ul>
Pricing <ul><li>Few cultural heritage institutions sell digital products or services </li></ul><ul><ul><li>High quality printing of digital images </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conversion services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consulting services </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Those that do are sophisticated about pricing </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.library.cornell.edu/dcaps/ </li></ul>
Pricing <ul><li>Most commonly based on cost recovery: but which costs? </li></ul>Staff in contract services Outsourcing contracts Billing, website design PR costs: printing, ads Salaries in HR, counsel, accounting, etc. Salaries of staff on project HVAC, lighting, depreciation Rent, space Indirect Direct
Academic Library Models <ul><ul><li>Establishing a digital library unit with campus-wide audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>provide consulting to library and non- library units </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>may be fees for work outside the library </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>advise on standards, interoperability, etc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Incorporate digital asset management activity internally (metadata from cataloging unit, etc.) without fees </li></ul></ul>
Distribution <ul><li>Most use their web sites for content distribution, whether free or for a fee (such as members-only sections) </li></ul><ul><li>In collaborative programs, one partner may be responsible for distribution for the group </li></ul><ul><li>A for-profit partner may benefit from distribution rights (Univ. of Virginia) </li></ul>
Operations Planning <ul><li>A project is different from a program </li></ul><ul><li>Space, equipment, furniture, telecom, software, authentication systems </li></ul><ul><li>Standards compliance over time, hardware platform migration, data migration and preservation. </li></ul><ul><li>Investment in future development ( R&D ) </li></ul>
Operations Planning <ul><li>Staffing and management, need for changing expertise </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most surveyed feel the need for a full time program manager </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Copyright , intellectual property management </li></ul>
Financials <ul><li>This is where you put a budget into the business plan </li></ul><ul><li>Annual Revenue and Expense </li></ul><ul><li>Long term financial plan </li></ul><ul><li>Multi-year financial plans are problematic for most cultural heritage organizations </li></ul>
Evaluation and Usability <ul><li>Usability studies , or web use measures are common </li></ul><ul><li>Impact of having access to content is harder to measure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer focus groups prior to product release </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interview teachers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pre and Post testing for student learners </li></ul></ul>
Collaboration: a Trend <ul><li>Large scale cultural heritage collaboratives are more common, providing infrastructure : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Imaging services or scan centers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Standards agreements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Training </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Software, interfaces </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Aggregated image and/or metadata files </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Digital resource preservation/migration </li></ul></ul>
Collaboration <ul><li>Participants must find approaches to sustainability that satisfy missions of all institutions & goals of their projects </li></ul><ul><li>Budget development for collaborative projects is complex ; the consortial budget plan is dependent on member budgets and plans </li></ul>
Collaboration <ul><li>Almost all digitization is collaborative in nature, even if it is within a single institution, making cost modeling complex </li></ul>
Conclusions <ul><li>Where do we get money for this? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Think about a business plan for each product or service </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work collaboratively to share the cost of creating infrastructure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This enables grants to build additional content or provide new services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Look for revenues that fit the mission and values of the organization </li></ul></ul>
Conclusions <ul><li>Over time, visitors/users will demand digital collections, exhibitions and services </li></ul><ul><li>To what extent, then, are web-based collections and digital asset management services going to become essential ? And how soon? </li></ul>
Planning Sustainability <ul><li>An early trend: digital resource management is a core function of the cultural heritage organization. </li></ul><ul><li>Libraries & museums are funding digital asset program capability, even while relying on grants for specific content-oriented digitization projects </li></ul>
Sustainability <ul><li>Business Planning for Cultural Heritage Digital Asset Programs </li></ul><ul><li>Contact information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nancy Allen: [email_address] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Liz Bishoff: [email_address] </li></ul></ul>