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Posted on Monday May 23, 2016

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

Incidental versus structural costs

Theme: Economics
Indicator: Ratio of incidental versus structural costs of digital collections
Reference date: 31/08/2017 (Enumerate Core Survey 4)
Monitoring frequency: biennial
Institution types: museums, libraries, archives, other
Geographical scope: Europe

Costs of digital collections can be divided into incidental (upfront) costs and structural (ongoing) costs:

  • 'Incidental costs' are defined as the costs having to do with the initial creation or acquisition of a digital collection. Examples are the selection of materials, acquisition of digital born materials, scanning, descriptive metadata creation, project management.
  • 'Structural costs' are the costs needed for the ongoing maintenance, enhancement and preservation of a digital collection, for instance: activities concerning the preservation of digital collections, licenses, maintenance of web servers, user outreach and support, management.

The indicator allows institutions to compare the ratio of incidental versus structural costs for their own institution with the ratio in other institutions. On an aggregated scale it will show the development of this ratio in a heritage domain, country, or the EU as a whole.

About 52% of the costs are qualified as being incidental cost and the remainder are structural costs.

Trends in the ratio of incidental versus structural costs of digital collections

On the whole the results are very similar to the results for both Core Surveys where this was looked at.

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If you have a question about this indicator or the data analysis in general, please contact us. We are continuously trying to improve our data. If you have any other data or research available that complements or contradicts our data, please let us know. You can write an email to Stephanie Teunisse, stephanie.teunisse[at]