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Financial/Business Models

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This workstream will make recommendations for a sustainable business plan for the DPLA. It is clear that any effort to greatly increase the scope of public access to digital resources will require partnerships among many entities, public and private, including government institutions, foundations, libraries (public, academic, and special-purpose) and (probably) publishers, both for-profit and nonprofit. The set of business models and mechanisms required to support a successful effort is likely to be complicated and varied, reflecting substantial differences in the primary missions of the participating institutions. How much the effort costs will depend on both technical and organizational considerations, and the financial/business models track will have to consider these aspects simultaneously.

Meetings and notes
  • DPLA West, San Francisco, CA: April 27, 2012
  • Workshop in Ann Arbor, MI: March 13, 2012
  • October 20, 2011


Big issues: We need to ensure that there is a sustainable model for the DPLA. Philanthropy will be a good starting point, but the effort must have a business model and a means of drawing on core funding from libraries and governments in order to get to scale. Working with publishers is also a necessity as part of this project.


Paul Courant, Harold T. Shapiro Professor of Public Policy and Dean of Libraries at the University of Michigan


Christine Borgman, UCLA

Peter Brantley, Internet Archive

Martín Gómez, Los Angeles Public Library

Kevin Guthrie, ITHAKA

Theresa Horner, Barnes & Noble

Mark Kurtz, BioOne

Brian Moura, Assistant City Manager, San Carlos, CA

Frances Pinter, Churchill Archive Online

Tom Sanville, Lyrasis

Roberta Shaffer & Blane Dessy, Library of Congress


Explore and develop mechanisms to generate ongoing material support for the DPLA as an organization, as well for the many activities that will be parts of the DPLA. Provide help and support to other workstreams of the DPLA in their development of business models for activities that they identify as part of the DPLA’s work.

Questions for Discussion

Please feel free to add new questions to this list, either by creating an account or by emailing with your additions.

Special thanks to Paul Courant for developing an initial list of discussion questions.

  • Should the Digital Public Library of America initiative drop "Public" from its name--to reduce the risks of its preempting the establishment of a universal national digital library system with public governance and with funding, content and services from both the public and and private sectors? More details here. Submitted by David Rothman, co-founder of LibraryCity and a Berkman workshop participant.

Suggested Resources

Please feel free to add resources and new categories to this list, either by creating an account or by emailing with your additions.

Membership Sign-up

All workstream members should join the DPLA Financial/Business Models Workstream listserv at

Please also add your name to the list below. If you would like to edit this wiki, please create an account.

  • [Name], [email address]
  • David Rothman (,