Dear colleagues,

As education institutions around the world continue to grapple with the momentous impact of COVID-19, libraries and publishers must cut budgets while continuing to support the needs of students, researchers, and their colleagues. We have talked with many of you about your needs, and we appreciate that JSTOR and Artstor are more important than ever to your communities.

When the pandemic forced institutions to stop residential learning abruptly last spring, we worked with our publishers to execute a plan to support our library participants’ immediate needs in an exclusively online environment. Thousands of institutions signed up for complimentary access to archive and e-book collections they had not previously licensed. We recently extended the expanded access program for the archive collections through December 31, 2020 and the books to August 31, 2020.

Over the last month, we have examined how we can work together to continue to help institutions, libraries, and publishers during these challenging times. Today we are announcing several additional efforts to assist our community:

$4 million relief for JSTOR and Artstor participating libraries

Our Trustees have approved a $4 million relief initiative to mitigate the unprecedented financial impact of COVID-19 on JSTOR participants. We want to do what we can to deliver financial relief to colleges and universities, secondary schools, public libraries, government, and non-profit institutions.This relief will be distributed as follows:

  • All participating institutions will receive a fee offset to one year of JSTOR and Artstor annual access fees, ranging from 3.5% to 5%.
  • This fee offset will be issued as a one-time credit to our participants, but can be applied when needed any time from 2021 to 2023.
  • It can be used for JSTOR or Artstor renewals beginning January 1, 2021, or put towards licensing additional resources, including Books at JSTOR, if a reduction in annual fees is not preferred.
  • Participating institutions will receive information about their fee offset in the coming weeks, and we encourage you to contact us with any questions in the interim.

Preserving publisher revenue share payments

Access to JSTOR is possible through the participation of publishers and scholarly societies. Each year we distribute a portion of JSTOR’s gross annual revenues to these content providers. We anticipate that the economic impact of COVID-19 will reduce revenue generated by JSTOR in 2020, resulting in a lower revenue share distribution due to publishers in early 2021. We commit today to guarantee our publisher partners at least the same revenue share distributions for 2020 that were paid for 2019. We hope this one-time relief will help publishers in what is an otherwise difficult and unpredictable time.

No fee increase for JSTOR Archive Collections and Artstor through 2023

We also commit to hold fees for JSTOR Archive Collections and the Artstor Digital Library at the current level for the next three years, through 2023.

We take our role as a not-for-profit organization with a mission to expand access to scholarship very seriously. We are stewards of the resources you contribute to support our efforts. Covering the costs of these initiatives will require us to run an operating deficit this year, but we are also taking steps to reduce expenses to help balance the budget and preserve resources needed to maintain the JSTOR archive for future generations. We have cut spending throughout the organization, have imposed limits on hiring, and are actively implementing processes and procedures to decrease inefficiencies. We are monitoring financial developments weekly, and are also considering many of the steps libraries and publishers have had to take, including salary freezes and reductions to retirement contributions for employees. These are not easy decisions, but we are all part of one community facing these challenges.

We are living through a singularly challenging time. It is by far the most difficult I have seen in my nearly 30 years working in scholarly communications. Moments like these demand creativity and sacrifice from us all, and I have been amazed to watch how colleges and universities, and all of us who serve them, have rallied to meet the challenges of the day. We will continue to seek ways to do more with less, while ensuring we maintain the financial resources needed to support JSTOR and Artstor over the long term. We welcome your ideas and suggestions. It is a privilege to be a part of this shared enterprise working to expand knowledge and education for all.

Kevin Guthrie
President, ITHAKA