Costs structure of emancipation archives and libraries

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is making drastic changes to the Gender and LGBT Equality Grant Scheme 2017-2022 for the period 2023-2027. A surprising change to the new policy is the separate funding of archive and library functions. To determine the new maximum subsidy amount, Ecorys conducted an in-depth study of the rates and cost structure of two leading emancipation archives and libraries: Atria and IHLIA.

The study lays the foundation for the grant limit and highlights the fundamental importance of archive and library functions in promoting emancipation, women’s history and LGBT+ equality.

Atria, originally founded in 1935 as the International Archives for the Women’s Movement, is a custodian of the heritage of women and women’s movements. IHLIA, with an impressive collection of more than 190,000 items, holds Europe’s largest LGBT+ heritage. By providing access to their collections both organisations play a crucial role to a wide range of stakeholders, including researchers, students, media and communities, both online and offline.

Using the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculation model, a clear understanding of the financial backbone of these organisations was obtained. The results reveal that the current costs for Atria amount to €2,036,300, and to €698,000 for IHLIA. Strikingly, for both Atria and IHLIA, the emphasis is on costs for conservation and accessibility, while only a limited budget is dedicated to collection expansion.

The study warns of upcoming challenges, with an expected cost increases of 30% and 41.2% respectively, driven by the ongoing digitisation of the collection and the need to manage overdue work stock. This requires expert staff and extensive storage capacity. Failure to embrace these developments could jeopardise the accessibility and sustainability of the collections. Additional risks are budget overload due to loss of funding and costs associated with pursuing higher ambitions.

For more information, feel free to contact Annejet Kerckhaert at

18 September 2023

2 minute read

Key Experts

Annejet Kerckhaert

Principal Consultant

Michel Briene