Participating in A&M

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Annual Dues

A&M membership dues are set annually as part of the Orbis Cascade Alliance budget process.

Fees for participating institutions in FY24 (July 2023-June 2024):

  • Large public 4-year academic (more than 15,000 FTE students)
    • Alliance member: $2987
    • Non-Alliance member: $3460
  • Medium public 4-year academic (10,000-15,000 FTE students)
    • Alliance member: $2134
    • Non-Alliance member: $2479
  • Small public 4-year academic (less than 10,000 FTE students)
    • Alliance member: $1352
    • Non-Alliance member: $1579
  • Public 2-year academic
    • Alliance member: $1352
    • Non-Alliance member: $1579
  • Private 4-year academic
    • Alliance member: $2134
    • Non-Alliance member: $2479
  • Non-academic regional/state (Historical society, museum, state library, state archives
    • Alliance member: n/a
    • Non-Alliance member: $2424
  • Non-academic municipal/county (Historical society, museum, municipal or county archives)
    • Alliance member: n/a
    • Non-Alliance member: $1544

Non-Alliance members pay a 15% overhead fee and $25.00 billing fee, included in the pricing above, to cover administrative costs. Alliance members pay for administrative costs through their general membership fee.

The above fees give an institution unlimited capability to contribute finding aids to the database. Institutions that wish to participate in a smaller way, in the short or long term, by having 20 or less finding aids in the database, receive a 25% discount on their membership category fee so long as they have 20 or less finding aids. Once they exceed 20 finding aids, they relinquish the 25% discount in the following fiscal year.

Fees do not include ArchivesSpace hosting. A&M participating institutions have access to all of the ArchivesSpace documentation and training regardless of whether they host ArchivesSpace through the Alliance or locally.

What Archives & Manuscripts Service Participants Receive

Participation in the A&M services is a cost-effective way for institutions to build program capacity, expand services, and improve efficiency.

Archival Collection Management

With increasing standardization in archival practice and perpetually strained resources, support for efficient workflows in archival collection management allows an institution to maximize those resources. The service offers extensive documentation and training in compliance with current practices. We primarily support ArchivesSpace with documentation and training. Hosting for ArchivesSpace is available for an additional fee.

Encoded Archival Description and Archives West

Participants can contribute EAD finding aids to the Archives West database, which places members’ collections into context with related collections from other institutions. Archives West has excellent search engine exposure and a national-level profile as a research tool. There are no limits on the number of finding aids each institution can contribute, and fees are not tied to numbers of documents.

Training and Documentation

The service offers extensive web-based documentation and video tutorials on using Archives West and ArchivesSpace. Live workshops and training are also offered periodically, based on community needs.

Shared Standards

The Alliance has developed and maintains EAD Best Practices and best practices for archival collection management using ArchivesSpace.

Community of Expertise

The service provides participants with a ready group of colleagues for professional support. Each participating institution designates one individual as its liaison to the program.

Technical Support

The consortium also centralizes a number of other technical functions:

  • Purchasing software and hardware for the search and retrieval system;
  • Supporting the website through maintenance and development;
  • Email communications;
  • Developing and maintaining best practices;
  • Dealing with compliance issues;
  • Providing database administration;
  • Developing and program the search and retrieval system (one of the more advanced search and retrieval systems available for a database of EAD finding aids);
  • Developing and support tools for encoding and verifying the compliance of finding aids;
  • Producing reports in support of assessment activities;
  • Supporting and respond to usability testing;
  • Sharing participant’s finding aids with other appropriate venues, including ArchiveGrid and SNAC.
  • Providing long-term maintenance in the form of global changes/updates.

Administrative Support

In support of the technical and training functions, the Alliance provides administrative, financial, and marketing services. These include:

  • Governance;
  • Communications in and out of the consortium;
  • Coordination of the overall program;
  • Money management;
  • Dissemination to research communities;
  • General administrative support;
  • Identifying and applying for grants;
  • Grant administration;
  • Negotiation and management of contracted services;
  • Recruiting new participants;
  • Developing new program offerings.

What Program Participants Give

In exchange for all of the above, program participants give money (participation fees) and time (service on standing or project groups). The extent to which members contribute finding aids to the database is entirely at the discretion of the member; the consortium does not set specific yearly quotas or goals for its members to meet.

A&M Participation and Alliance Membership

Program participants need not be full members of the Orbis Cascade Alliance; Alliance membership is not included in program participation. Alliance members may choose to opt in or out of the Archives & Manuscripts Service. Program participants who are not also Alliance members sign a general Memorandum of Understanding with Orbis Cascade Alliance.

Adding Participants

The Archives & Manuscripts Collections Service welcomes new participants from all Western states except California and has ongoing programs to recruit and train new institutions. Prospective participants complete a letter of application to begin the process; this is less an evaluative process than a clarifying one.

Prospective participants must provide evidence of their ability to participate fully in the activities and purposes of the A&M Collections Service. This includes a commitment to implementing or continuing the use of Encoded Archival Description (EAD), including adherence to the Alliance’s EAD Best Practices and other procedures.

Prospective participants should thoroughly review the intent and purpose of the service before they complete a letter of application. The purpose of this process is less evaluative than to ensure clarity. In reviewing a letter of application, we take into consideration a number of characteristics, including the following:

  • Commitment to implementing Encoded Archival Description (EAD), including use of standards for archival description and procedures to develop and disseminate finding aids;
  • Legal custody of collections;
  • Adequate staff to support ongoing work and to participate actively in working groups and other activities;
  • Collections that are accessible to the public;
  • Collections that contribute to research on the history, culture, and peoples of the American west.

New participants pay a one-time $1,000 start-up fee plus the annual fee appropriate to the institution’s type and size, prorated according to start date.

Letter of Application Process

Institutions interested in participating should contact the Program Manager before beginning a letter of application.

The letter should address the following topics:

  • Budget
    • Evidence of resources available or planned to meet the financial obligations of initial membership, including but not limited to the initial joining fee, annual fee, and costs associated with meeting travel;
    • Evidence of capacity to support the financial obligations of continuing participation.
  • Technical Preparedness
    • Evidence of staff expertise in archival description and reasonable comfort with technology;
    • Willingness to revise processing and description workflows.
  • Staffing
    • Adequate level of staffing devoted to archives and special collections to ensure appropriate level of program participation and preparedness to serve researchers;
    • Ability to participate actively, including responsiveness to information requests and participation in committee work.
  • Significance of Collections
    • Characterize size and content of collections;
    • Summarize research value and types of researchers served.

New program participants can begin in either July or January. The number of new participants and starting times will vary depending on the institutional capacity of the applicant(s) and Alliance resources and priorities.