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Hypothetically Speaking: HOW Should We Let You Know About Fee Changes?

by on December 13, 2010


The following guest post comes from Stuart Culy of the Policy and Planning Staff.


We want your comments!  NARA is thinking about changing the way we tell researchers, visitors, and anyone who’s interested about our record reproduction fees. Basically – the fees that we charge when we make copies of our holdings for a requester.

Right now, we publish our fees in the Federal Register and on archives.gov.  There are fixed fees for everything – from color transparencies to passenger arrival lists.

But we want to make the process for setting fees more transparent and easier to manage.  So, what are we thinking about doing?  We’re not sure.  We know that we want to show how we break down our costs and arrived at the fees we have in place now and how we arrive at any future changes in the fees.

How should we tell you about changes, though? We could notify you by posting an announcement on archives.gov, and our social media outlets directed at researchers. There’s always the old standby: signs in research rooms.

Do you have other ideas?  How do you learn about our fees?  Do we have too many categories of products?  Are there services we’re not offering which you would like to see? You might also want to check out our online ordering system.

It is not our intention to change any existing fees at this time.


Comments

Pat Richley December 13, 2010 at 3:23 pm

You wrote: “Are there services we’re not offering which you would like to see?”

YES, I believe when you send digital copies of say a pension file to someone, that file should also be made available in your digital archives. This saves having to go back and digitize the file later on.

For instance, you now receive about 3,000 requests per year for copies of War of 1812 Pension files. At the same time there is a joint NARA & Federation of Genealogical Societies initiative to digitize the entire collection. Over te next four years, those monies collected by NARA for copying 12,000 files could reduce the amount needed to digitize the files for the web archive.

We were told at the November 2010 NARA Researchers’ Meeting that none of the patrons’ requests for digital copies are saved for your digital archive. What a waste of time and energy. Then think of the damage additional handling will do to those files.

Pat Richley December 13, 2010 at 3:25 pm

It was mentioned at the November 2010 NARA Researcher’s Meeting that the copy machine contracts expire in May 2011.

How about making the paper-to-scanned-image on- flash-drive option a reality in all research rooms?

Stuart Culy (guest blogger) December 14, 2010 at 8:56 am

Pat,

Great comments. I’ll address the first one here, and the second one will be addressed soon.

You wrote, “YES, I believe when you send digital copies of say a pension file to someone, that file should also be made available in your digital archives. This saves having to go back and digitize the file later on.”

NARA is exploring a “scan-on-demand” model. In this “scan-on-demand” model, NARA will charge the initial requester the fee required to recover our costs, as allowed by law. Subsequent researchers will have free access to the records after NARA posts them on-line (in our online catalog). Federal government agencies can pass on benefits (digitized records, in this case) to others for free, even if the benefit was initially paid for by another individual. Do you (or anyone else!) have thoughts on this model?

Thanks for commenting!
Stuart

Stuart Culy (guest blogger) December 14, 2010 at 9:20 am

Pat,

In response to your second comment, I can say that NARA has posted a request for information, inquiring about the “paper-to-scanned-image on- flash-drive option.”

Stuart

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