Author: Nancy L. Maron & Matthew Loy
Date: June/July 2011
Document type: Research
Over the past decade, European funding agencies and cultural heritage organisations have invested significant resources in the creation of digital content in the not-for-profit sector. The grants have facilitated major digitisation and encouraged innovative work that paved the way for forms of scholarship and communities possible only in an online environment.
However, the past decade of digitisation has not been without flaws. The systems that create content are still in a stage of experimentation, and the path from initial funding to long-term sustainability can be challenging. Despite financial investment, some undesirable outcomes have emerged:
- Digital projects return again to funders, because alternative revenue streams had not been developed;
- Completed projects whose online content would remain stagnant and/or little used once funded ended;
- Silo effect of having good content, but hosted on a variety of platforms, with no interoperability and low user discoverability
- Uncertain preservation strategies for digitised and born digital content;
- Project leaders relying heavily on the largesse of a host institution
- Programmes that ceased to secure ongoing funding and were obliged to shut down.
The challenging economic environment in 2010 has brought all these issues into sharp relief. This Strategic Content Alliance/Ithaka S+R report examines funding practices to provide insight on post-grant sustainability for digital resources.