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Case studies let you see how project leaders have tested different approaches to sustainability. These include detailed financial data and real-world examples of things that worked… and did not.

Many of the case studies presented here were done as part of major research studies.

Sustaining Digital Resources: An On-the-Ground View of Projects Today (2009)

Funding from JISC (UK), the NEH and NSF supported the research and writing of case studies of twelve digital initiatives, each of which illustrates the strategies that worked – or didn’t – on the path to sustainability. These cases include detailed financial data, as well as updates conducted two years following the original case. 

• DigiZeitschriften (2009) - Library Partnership and a Subscription Model for a Journal Database

V&A Images (2009) - Image Licensing at a Cultural Heritage Institution

The Middle School Portal 2: Math and Science Pathways, National Science Digital Library (2009) - Early Sustainability Planning for a Grant-Funded Digital Library

The National Archives (UK) (2009) - Digitisation with Commercial Partnerships via the Licensed Internet Associates Program

L’Institut national de l’audiovisuel (2009) - Free Content and Rights Licensing as Complementary Strategies

Hindawi Publishing Corporation (2009) - The Open-Access Contributor-Pays Model

Electronic Enlightenment (2009) - Subscription-based Resource Sold Through a University Press

Centre for Computing in the Humanities (2009) - Leveraging Shared Infrastructure and Expertise to Develop Digital Projects in an Academic Department

BOPCRIS Digitisation Centre (2009) - Experimentation with Sustainability and Partnerships for Library Digitisation Projects

eBird (2009) - A Two-sided Market for Academic Researchers and Enthusiasts

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2009) - Building an Endowment with Community Support

Revenue, Recession, Reliance: How 12 Digital Content Projects Fared During the Economic Crisis (2011)

Provided an update on each of the detailed cases two years later:

DigiZeitschriften (case update 2011) - A Niche Project at a Crossroads

V&A Images (case update 2011) - Scaling Back to Refocus on Revenue 


The Middle School Portal 2 (case update 2011) - The Challenges of Sustaining a Project as the End of a Grant Approaches 

The National Archives (UK) (case update 2011) - Enhancing the Value of Content through Selection and Curation

L’Institut national de l’audiovisuel (case update 2011) - Balancing Mission-based Goals and Revenue Generation


Thesaurus Linguae Graecae® (2009) - Specialised Historical Content for a Niche Audience


Thesaurus Linguae Graecae® (case update 2011) - How a Specialised Resource Begins to Address a Wider Audience

Hindawi Publishing Corporation (case update 2011) - Growing an Open-Access Contributor-Pays Business Model

Electronic Enlightenment (case update 2011) - Outreach or Outsource? The Benefits and Challenges of Partnership, Case Study Update 2011


The Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) at King’s College London (case update 2011) - Cementing Its Status as an Academic Department

University of Southampton Library Digitisation Unit (case update 2011) - Reimagining the Value Proposition

eBird (case update 2011) - Driving Impact through Crowdsourcing 

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (case update 2011) - Launching a "Freemium" Model

Searching for Sustainability: Strategies from Eight Digitized Special Collections  

Funding for this work was supplied through a cooperative agreement as part of the National Leadership Grants Program, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), in partnership with Ithaka S+R.

Grateful Dead Archive OnlineUniversity of California at Santa Cruz


Florida Folklife Collection State Archives of Florida


Maine Memory NetworkMaine Historical Society


Home Economics Archive: Research, Tradition and History Cornell University


Quakers and SlaveryHaverford College


Vanderbilt Television News Archive Vanderbilt University - 


American Antiquarian Society Worcester, Massachusetts


Biodiversity Heritage Library Smithsonian


Case Studies on Science Gateways  

These “mini-cases” were created as part of the Science Gateways Community Institute.



Open Topography


NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program's Information Portal 

Data Repository Case Studies  

Created as discussion documents for a sustainability workshop of the Ecological Society of America.

Dryad Digital Repository


Cambridge Structural Database


TAIR and Phoenix Bioinformatics

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