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Information technology and resources are thoroughly integrated with, and indispensable to, today’s web-based culture, commerce, science, education, and entertainment.  The digital assets underpinning those activities, however, are inherently fragile with respect to ever increasing disruptive technological change.  Without effective and affordable curation management, today’s digital assets will not remain viable and useful in the future.  To address this concern, UC3 has developed an analytical framework for modeling the full economic costs of preservation, the “total cost of preservation” (TCP).

The TCP analysis can be applied usefully in the development of two specific cost models for preservation service pricing:

  • Pay-as-you-go
  • Paid-up

The pay-as-you-go model is appropriate for situations where a reliable and predictable annual income stream is available to the client purchasing preservation services.  When this is not the case, for example, with organizations facing irregular or boom-or-bust budgetary cycles or for grant-funded, fixed term research projects, the paid-up model may be more attractive; indeed, in many circumstances it may be the only realistic option.

Total cost of preservation (TCP)

Previous versions

Open data initiative (ODI)


  • Stephen Abrams, Patricia Cruse, and John Kunze (2012), "Cost modeling for sustainable curation services," Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (PASIG), Dublin, October 16-19, 2012
  • Stephen Abrams, Patricia Cruse, and John Kunze (2012), "Total cost of preservation: Cost modeling for sustainable services," Screening the Future: Pause, Play, and Press Forward, Los Angeles, May 21-23, 2012
  • Stephen Abrams, Patricia Cruse, and John Kunze (2012), "Total cost of preservation (TCP): Cost modeling for sustainable services," Joint UC Council of University Librarians (CoUL) / Systemwide Operations and Planning Advisory Group (SOPAG) meeting, February 16, 2012

Related efforts

  • UC3 staff are participating on the DPN business modeling working group
  • UC3 staff are participating in an advisory capacity on the 4C (Collaboration to Clarify the Costs of Curation) project funded by the European Commission as part of its FP7 Cooperation Programme
  • In conjunction with DuraSpace, Educopia, UCSD, and Virginia Tech, UC3 has submitted a proposal to the ICPSR challenge grant program for a project to investigate "economic realities of digital preservation curation"
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