Building arXiv's Self-Sustaining Future

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Building arXiv’s Self-Sustaining Future
Grant Will Help Create Governance Model for Scientific E-Repository

ITHACA, N.Y. (Oct. 25, 2011) – Thanks to a generous award from the Simons Foundation, Cornell University Library will take a major step toward building a permanent governance model for arXiv, the free scientific repository that has revolutionized the way scientists share information.

The Simons Foundation, which is based in New York City, has provided a $60,000 planning grant to support the development of a governance model that will guide the online repository’s transition from interim to long-term governance. 

“The arXiv has dramatically improved the ease of communication in many areas of physics and mathematics. In my own work I consult it daily,” said David Eisenbud, Director of Mathematics and the Physical Sciences at the Simons Foundation. “We at the Simons Foundation are eager to see the enterprise thrive, and we are proud to be able to help it in the search for a stable funding model that will involve the whole scholarly community.”

arXiv — a free scientific repository of research in physics, mathematics, statistics, computer science and related disciplines — allows scientists to share their research before publication. The repository now boasts 700,000 “preprint” articles, a million downloads a week and hundreds of thousands of contributors.

The work proposed in the planning grant has already begun, and it will continue through April 2012. The grant supports multiple goals:

  • Developing a set of arXiv operating principles and seeking input from key stakeholders;
  • Refining the institutional fee model and revenue projection;
  • Delineating a governance model and bylaws that clearly define roles and responsibilities for the Library and its partners; and
  • Establishing an initial governing board that reflects the financial contribution levels of major stakeholders and the scientific community.

“This is a critical step in the transition to a self-sustaining funding model,” said Oya Rieger, Associate University Librarian for Digital Scholarship Services. “Ensuring the future of arXiv through a stable, transparent and collaborative governance structure is one of the Library’s primary goals, and the Simons Foundation helping us make great strides toward that goal.”
The Library recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of arXiv, with an event featuring the repository’s founder, Paul Ginsparg, and meetings about its governance model, support structure and organization of its advisory board. In 2001, Ginsparg joined the Cornell faculty, bringing the arXiv with him.

The service is maintained by Cornell University Library, and in January 2010, it launched a sustainability initiative that has created a voluntary, collaborative business model to engage institutions that benefit most from arXiv’s services. So far this year, 129 institutions in 16 countries have pledged their support, totaling $382,000.

“The Library is proud to support arXiv, which is truly vital for researchers. A prominent physicist at a major institution recently thanked us for ‘taking care’ of arXiv, which she considers her own library,” said Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian.

“We were fortunate to earn funding for a wide range of projects this year, and their diversity shows the range of activities — from expanding arXiv to archiving digital data to helping graduate students in the humanities — that the Library undertakes as a vital part of intellectual life and innovation at Cornell,” Kenney added.

To learn more
Visit and Information about the arXiv sustainability initiative is available on arXiv’s website.