Frequently Asked Questions
About CNI

1.  Why should my institution be interested in joining CNI?

CNI takes a leadership role in the rapidly developing field of digital information. Through identification of major issues and trends during presentations at CNI meetings and other venues, publications, and representation in national and international policy arenas, we work to accelerate progress through collaboration and community building. CNI is a valued partner in policy formulation, and agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the Library of Congress, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services call on us when they consider strategic directions for their programs. We provide information, advice, and insight into the implications of new technologies for public and institutional policies.

CNI staff members are available to visit member institutions and organizations for events that focus on issues such as scholarly communication, developing technology-rich facilities, and formulating institutional strategies for intellectual asset management. As an organization that is involved across a broad spectrum of networking activities, at all levels, from inception through implementation, CNI can bring this expertise and perspective to your institution’s planning process.

CNI distributes its publications and reports online and makes them freely available to the public; we also maintain electronic distribution channels for information about the activities and programs of CNI. We believe these strategies are the most effective ways to advance our ongoing program of collaboration and advocacy to promote the development of digital information and its role in transforming organizations and scholarly activities.

Many of our members state that one of the most valuable benefits of membership is participation in our semi-annual membership meetings (included in membership dues), during which they have the opportunity to learn about new technologies, content, and applications, and further their own collaborations. Each institution may send up to two representatives to these meetings. Following a recent membership meeting, one attendee commented, “the CNI sessions I attended read like signposts for our future.”

While CNI membership meetings offer unique occasions to hear about cutting edge developments, and the opportunity to consult with CNI staff on institutional policies and projects can be invaluable, the most compelling reason to join CNI is to support and participate in the advancement of scholarly communication in the digital environment.

Related document: Key Benefits of CNI Membership

2. Are there categories of membership?

CNI has only one membership category. All types of institutions and organizations have the same membership privileges and pay the same dues. We have members from a wide variety of sectors, including higher education, publishing, network and telecommunications companies, scholarly and professional organizations, libraries, information technology companies, government agencies, and foundations, from both the US and other countries. We do not offer an individual membership rate.

3. Is CNI an international organization?

The Coalition actively pursues a strategy of ongoing collaborations to advance its program, and this approach includes cooperation with international organizations concerned with digital information. For example, CNI has partnered with the Jisc in the United Kingdom, the German Initiative for Networked Information (DINI), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and SURF, the Dutch higher education and research partnership organization for network services and information and communications technology. We also have members from outside the United States, most notably from Canada, who have been important participants throughout the Coalition’s history, but CNI’s policy focus is concentrated on issues primarily within the United States.

4. What are the annual dues?

The dues for the current membership year (July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017) are $7960. CNI’s budget is entirely funded through member dues; we do not receive grants. The typical annual dues increase has been 3%. When we have received an institution’s membership application, we send the invoice for dues payment. Because the majority of our members are academic institutions with fiscal years that begin July 1, we normally invoice for membership in late May, providing maximum financial flexibility to those members. We can make special arrangements for other invoicing cycles if this would be helpful.

5. What is CNI’s organizational and governance structure?

CNI is a joint program of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and EDUCAUSE; it is not a separate non-profit corporation, but it operates under ARL’s 501(c)(3) status. Our governance is through our sponsor associations; the CEOs of ARL and EDUCAUSE have the fiduciary and organizational responsibility for CNI, with the oversight of the boards of these organizations. Our financial transactions go through ARL and are subject to ARL controls and routine audits. CNI’s funds are maintained in separate accounts and are not co-mingled with other ARL funds.

A Steering Committee provides guidance on CNI’s programs and priorities. ARL and EDUCAUSE each appoint three individuals—typically library directors, information technology executives, or senior academic leaders. The CEOs of ARL and EDUCAUSE, and the Executive Director of CNI are ex officio members of the Steering Committee. In addition, three “at large” members broaden the diversity of insights and expertise helping us to shape our programs. The Executive Director and the heads of ARL and EDUCAUSE jointly appoint those members.

6. How does CNI set its agenda?

CNI’s structure was intentionally kept informal to encourage agility and flexibility in developing projects in the rapidly changing networked environment. The Steering Committee and the leadership of our sponsor organizations, working with the Executive Director, play major roles in setting our agenda. Suggestions and proposals from members are a very important source of new program components. Members provide input in a variety of ways—most typically in project briefing sessions at membership meetings or through direct communication with the Executive Director or other CNI staff.

7. How can CNI member institutions participate in the program?

CNI’s member institutions appoint two representatives. Higher education institutions are encouraged to appoint their heads of libraries and information technology. Other types of organizations generally appoint senior administrators in appropriate areas.

Each member’s participation may take a variety of forms and depends on how much time and energy a member institution wants to invest in CNI-related activities. We want our members to “own” the agenda of CNI. The fundamental objective is to make progress on this agenda, and we work most intensively with those organizations that are actively advancing it. CNI staff are also deeply involved in initiatives developed by individual member organizations, or groups of organizations, and have sometimes played an important role in coordinating efforts or transferring technology and best practices from such groups to the broader CNI community.

CNI assists members in forming fruitful partnerships. Each institution may send two representatives to the semi-annual membership meetings, and we welcome project briefing sessions from members at those events. Membership meetings are a venue for reporting on and exploring the latest activities and issues in networked information. They can also serve as a means of identifying resources and participants for projects. CNI is a mechanism that combines the resources of all member institutions and organizations to make progress in the digital scholarly information environment.

Last updated:  Friday, April 22nd, 2016