Research: What are Commercial/Public Archives?

In essence, it is exactly what it says on the tin. Commercial archives are archives which are set to make many from its content, whether that be by subscription, auction or buying print copies. Publicly Funded archive are paid for by governments from taxpayers so that information is free.

Starting with commercial archives, I have looked at:

Magnum Photos

Getty Images

Time Magazine

Two of which are photographic archives and the third a newsprint archive. Although the subject matter is broad, the physical medium is very specialised: Time Magazine’s archive is of its magazines and what that entails: articles. Magnum and Getty house negatives, contact sheets, prints etc. This probably isn’t indicative of what it means to be a commercial archive, but it is no doubt arguably (and I use this term loosely) ‘easier’ to manage.

Publicly funded archives I have looked at:

Library of Congress

British Library

Belfast Exposed

The third example being the photographic archive example, while the other two have a wider collection of media: books, ledgers, photographs, documents and so on.

However, the line between public and commercial archives isn’t so cut and dry. Jisc.ac.uk is 80% publicly funded and 20% from other places: being universities. Jisc acts more as a database to find digitised collections, but it also funds digitisation for other public archives such as WW1 Welsh Collection. Much of its content is free and open for all; however, some is padlocked as third party collections wish to be paid for. University institutions’ students can log in in order to see this content as part of their tuition fee. The fact that much of university funds come from its students and many of those students have government loans to pay for the tuition which £5 billion has not been paid back. So in essence, that 80% government funding probably deserves a few more percent and it makes one (or me at least) think that with such a high percentage coming from tax payers’ money, then why isn’t it ‘more open’. I guess that’s a different story. I will be undertaking more refined research into Jisc and ‘freemium’. Jisc arguably doesn’t act as an archive of a collection, but it is a library of archives.

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