For update, see eDesiderata comment posted Apr 26, 2018 4:35pm CDT.
Support for developing digital collections is obtained by "crowd funding", i.e. soliciting direct investment by academic libraries to cover the costs of digitizing the newspapers, and the processing, hosting, and management of the digital collections created, as well as the marketing of the effort. A detailed 2012 prospectus outlined the plan for creating the initial Reveal collection "Independent Voices," to be developed and released over four years (2013–16), at a cost of $2.3 million. The effort was to be financed through scaled annual payments from participating libraries over the four-year period. Reveal reached its fundraising goal in 2016.
Reveal Digital undertakes the development of its digital collections on a project-by-project basis.The costs of these activities are to be underwritten by one-time payments (or annual payments over three years) from the academic and independent research libraries that commit to participate in developing a given collection. The level of a library’s payment will depend upon the total direct and indirect costs of producing and marketing the collection, the type of library (e.g., two-year college, Masters, ARL), and the total number and types of libraries committing funding.
The 2012 prospectus for Independent Voices estimated the lump sum payments for different types of libraries to range between $5,130 and $20,500. This estimate was based on an expected $2,378,400 cost of producing the collection, and assumed a total take-up of 160 libraries of various sizes. Reveal later revised its total funding goal downward to $1,794,453. As of May 2016, Reveal had reached 63% of its target goal; in August 2016 the full target was met.
For a new funding campaign launched in late 2015, libraries are asked to make a non-binding commitment during a six-month open enrollment period, at the end of which a decision will be made as to whether or not to proceed with producing the collection. The decision was to be made on the basis of the number of libraries enrolled during this period. From Reveal: "If the response during the open enrollment period does not indicate sufficient support for the project then we will either scale back, which would kick off a revised prospectus and a new open enrollment period, or we would cancel the project entirely. If we elect to scale back, the cost implications to libraries could change, up or down, based on a new set of scale/scope and market demand assumptions."
In return, contributing libraries would have a say in the selection of content to be included in future collections developed by Reveal, and would also have the option to mount the digital content locally, and would . The contributing libaries' patrons would also have access to the digital collection during an embargo period, prior to when the collection is made openly accessible.
LYRASIS serves as the sales and administrative agent for collections and manages the enrollment process.
Distribution of Costs
The initial prospectus for Independent Voices estimated the total cost of producing Independent Voices at $2,173,400. An analysis of the 2013 projected budget for Independent Voices indicates that a substantial portion of the costs for creating the collection would be administrative and indirect costs. Of the estimated cost of $2.1 million for the collection:
- An estimated $1.1 million (50%) will be spent on production and hosting of the collection;
- $652,471 (31%) will go to sales, marketing, general administration, and project management; and
- $346,000 (16%) will be allocated for editorial work, rights clearance, and royalties to rights holders.
Although library investment will cover initial project costs, additional costs might be incurred in the future for ongoing maintenance of the content management platform ($271,863 initial cost for Independent Voices), interface upgrades, and the migration of content. In addition, Reveal is also known to receive back office support from the for-profit firm NA Publishing, although the nature of that support is not clear. If Reveal were to seek investment from sources other than libraries (such as aggregators, genealogy publishers) library control of future collection priorities could be affected.