Archivaria – pay for print

Jenn was elected to the ACA Board in June 2014 and her two year term ends on December 31, 2016.  She works as a private records archivist at Yukon Archives in Whitehorse.

Starting January 2017, members will only receive the online edition of Archivaria.  Print copies will be available for purchase as a cost of $20 plus shipping fees.  The decision to make the switch to an e-first Archivaria model was not a decision that was taken lightly by the ACA Board of Directors. 

To provide some context, (we are archivists after all), I want to share with you some of the reasons we have made this decision.

Between 2005 and 2014, Archivaria’s revenue exceeded expenses.  However, since 2008 the amount of the annual surplus has been decreasing and the overall financial situation has been deteriorating for a few years.  Some of the reasons for the decline in annual surplus for the journal include:

  • After the online collection was established (2007-2008), income from back issue sales plummeted from approximately $5,000 per year to almost nothing;
  • In 2014, SSHRC declined the journal’s application under Aid to Scholarly Journals; an annual contribution of $22,750 received in prior years was not available in 2014-2016;
  • Under the ‘fair use’ interpretation of copyright, publisher rights fees earned through Access Copyright decreased from over $10,000 to under $2,500 per year, with further decreases expected;
  • The number of paid subscribers has decreased year over year since 2008.

When you look at the decline in revenue and the declining number of subscribes for the journal, it is clear that without doing something different, Archivaria will soon be losing money. 

Journal production accounts for slightly under 50% of Archivaria’s expenses with the costs split about 50:50 between pre-production expenses, (editing, layout, proofing, etc.), and the costs for printing and mailing.  We wanted to find ways to recoup our costs without negatively affecting the quality of the journal. This is why we chose to have an opt-in fee for those who wish to have a print copy. 

The Editorial Board has conducted a review of its production practices to reduce costs for contract services such as manuscript cleaning and production layout.  They have also implemented changes to make the journal more attractive and more easily discoverable online including full text HTML versions of articles within the Reserved Collection and hyperlinked footnotes (with images, tables and videos where possible).  We expect that Archivaria will soon be represented in one or more aggregators to increase the journal’s reach.

The ACA Board considered increasing member fees to support Archivaria, but the Report of the Finance Review Task Force found that there was not enough revenue to gain by raising fees outside the current annual increments.  The Task force felt, when comparing ACA membership fees to that of similar organizations, that our membership fees are at the appropriate levels.  We reflected on a significant increase in membership fees with a modest rebate option for those who opted-out of print Archivaria but this approach – to allow members to opt-out of services they don’t want – didn’t sit well with the board.  We preferred the method of eliminating printing and mailing expenses for the journal and asking members who wanted a physical copy to pay a fee for it.

Over the past year, the ACA Board has been considering a number of recommendations made by the Archivaria Editorial Board and we believe that the future of the journal is strong.  The ACA Board does not believe that Archivaria needs to be a revenue stream for our association but we acknowledge that it once was and theoretically in the future it could be again.  However, we do need the journal to break even. 

ACA is working this year on two major initiatives that we plan to bring into reality in 2017.  The first is a website revival initiative and the second is the development of online learning opportunities for members.  Both of these initiatives require dedicated funds and they are areas of the ACA on which the current board has decided to focus its efforts for 2017.

I have been fielding a number of questions from members about the move to opt-in for print for Archivaria and I am happy to continue to do so.  Please send me an email if I can provide you with further information.

Jenn Roberts