How to Become a Member of SAOA

The foundation of SAOA is inter-institutional collaboration and its impact is achieved through an inclusive diversity of members. Fostering meaningful collaboration while recognizing difference necessitates a variety of pathways to membership but the benefits are the same for all members. Simultaneous membership in SAOA’s parent body, SAMP (South Asia Materials Project), is a prerequisite for membership in SAOA and all membership terms are for a period of five years.

Member Categories. All institutions that can are strongly encouraged to support SAOA at the Category 1 level. SAOA is committed to the principles of and opportunities afforded by open access, yet relies on robust funding, content contribution and staffing support to complete its mission. Given the varying resources among institutions and our commitment to inclusion, SAOA has created membership categories in order to invite participation from as wide an array of institutions and stakeholders as possible.

Below, we define some general criteria to differentiate between the categories and to help South Asia librarians, scholars and local stakeholders try to advocate with their institutions for SAOA membership at a level appropriate to their own institution. Institutions may qualify under a certain membership category based on the contributions they are able to make, but the following factors may be considered locally for seeking an appropriate level:

  • Possible characteristics of Category 1 members might include one or more of these:
    • Library staff dedicated to South Asia
    • Well-established, robust annual South Asia library materials budgets
    • Historically strong South Asia collections
    • Significant South Asia-related course offerings, research, and programs
  • Possible characteristics of Category 2 members might include one or more of these:

    • Limited staffing dedicated to South Asia

    • Moderate annual South Asia materials budgets

    • Some South Asia-specific course offerings, research or programs; or individual scholars with strong South Asia research or teaching interests

  • Possible characteristics of Category 3 members might include one or more of these:

    • Small or no budgets dedicated to South Asia; or small or no funds to dedicate to collaborative open-access projects

    • Very limited or no staffing dedicated to South Asia

    • Some South Asia teaching and research interest

    • Some significant or unique South Asia holdings in their collections

Contributions. There are three types of memberships at different levels of contribution:

  • Category 1 Members contribute a minimum of $25,000 paid over five years. Additional optional contributions may include digital assets, vetted by SAOA and/or contributions of staff time for SAOA activities and services.

  • Category 2 Members contribute a minimum of $20,000 paid over five years). Additional optional contributions may include digital assets, vetted by SAOA, and/or contributions of staff time for SAOA activities and services.

  • Category 3 Members contribute a minimum of $10,000 paid over five years, OR creation and contribution of a substantial amount of content in the form of new digital assets (minimum 500 digital volumes over five years), vetted by SAOA, AND/OR substantial contributions of staff time for SAOA activities and services.

Benefits. All SAOA Members are eligible to:

  • Stand for election to serve on the SAOA Executive Board.

  • Serve on Working Groups on Digitization, Infrastructure, and Funding.

  • Vote in the SAOA Executive Board elections.

  • Provide input on SAOA decisions and documentation.

Staff Time (In-Kind Contributions)

Institutions may contribute staff time to support SAOA’s daily operations and activities. These contributions may include: creation or manipulation of metadata, program support, scanning of material, quality control of digital content, or other work that supports the SAOA program and has been discussed and approved by the SAOA Executive Board before membership is finalized.

Digital Content (In-Kind Contributions)

Institutions may contribute digital content for SAOA’s collections. This pathway to membership is particularly encouraged for institutions that have existing digital content or current digitizing capabilities but which lack the technical infrastructure to make that content freely and publicly available. SAOA purposefully seeks to be as inclusive as possible when considering in-kind pathways to membership:

  • “In-kind Contributions” must align with SAOA Selection Guidelines. The Selection Guidelines are also linked in the SAOA Five-Year Plan (FY21-25) and are interpreted and implemented by the Digitization Working Group. All SAOA-branded content is subject to a proposal process, including “In-Kind Contributions”, and ultimately is reviewed and voted on by the SAOA Executive Board. Specifics about the content of in-kind Contributions (per the proposal process) should be communicated by the potential member and agreed to by the SAOA Executive Board before membership is finalized.

  • “In-kind Contributions” must meet basic digitization specifications as outlined in SAOA’s Digitization Guidelines.

  • “In-kind Contributions” should not already be openly available through a stable platform.

To join SAOA, institutions must make a commitment for five years established by the Participant Commitment Form.

SAOA aims to include as many members as possible, and welcomes inquiries regarding membership possibilities from potential members. For further questions, please contact Neel Agrawal.

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