How will the development roadmap for AtoM 3 be determined?
The process for developing and approving functional/design requirements is currently being discussed. The board is committed to a process that is as consultative, transparent and member-driven as possible. We also recognize that decisions at different levels of granularity will be required.
We will also look for ways to facilitate participation by non-members, as we understand that many institutions and archivists using AtoM are not in a financial position to join as institutional members.
Is there a critical mass of resources necessary before work can begin? In other words, will the first year or two be devoted to gathering funds?
This needs to be planned in more detail, but we are assuming a phased development will be possible. There may also be costs involved in developing the initial design and technical requirements.
What happens if the Foundation does not reach a critical monetary threshold for delivery of AtoM 3? How will the amassed funds be spent?
The membership would need to make that decision. If we were actually in a situation where the Foundation needed to cease operations, assets would need to be transferred to a “qualified donee” which basically means registered charities and other bodies that are able to issue tax receipts. If the Foundation could be sustained but we were unable to proceed with AtoM 3 development, then the membership would need to make some mandate decisions.
How was the Inaugural Board of Directors elected? How will future Boards of Directors be elected?
Artefactual Systems initiated the establishment of the Foundation, and Evelyn McLellan (President) brought together the individuals on the inaugural board who agreed to undertake the work of setting up the corporation. While the specific arrangement with Artefactual is a result of how AtoM has been maintained up to now, this approach to setting up a non-profit is quite typical. That is, you need a group of people willing to do the upfront work of getting legally incorporated, developing bylaws, getting ready to go public, etc., and then starting to recruit members so that the organization can be member-driven.
From here in, the board will be elected at the Annual General Meeting. The bylaws (which will need to be approved by the membership at the first AGM) provide for two-year overlapping terms, and we can have as many as nine directors.
What are the benefits of becoming a member of the AtoM Foundation? What’s the difference between institutional founding members and “regular” institutional members?
Institutional membership gives you a vote at meetings of the Foundation. Institutional members will be listed on the Foundation’s website, so founding members in particular will be recognized for their generous contribution. In addition, fees for founding institutional members will not increase for the first three years. Beyond that, the Foundation has not settled on membership benefits largely because we are a start up and as of now we have limited funds, and no service offerings to supply members with any tangible benefits. For the time being, we are focusing on educating the community about the need for AtoM 3 and hoping that institutions and individuals will contribute towards that cause.
In terms of voting, institutional membership allows you to have a say in electing members to the Board, as well as any other decision items brought to a membership meeting (we will be holding the first AGM by fall 2019 at the latest; the legal requirement is within 18 months of incorporation). Voting rights will also likely come into play in approving the AtoM 3 development roadmap, but the exact details haven’t been worked out yet.
Will the Foundation consist only of Canadian institutions and individuals? Or is the idea for it to become an international organization?
The hope is definitely to become an international organization. Logistically, it was easiest to start with a Canadian board, but AtoM has an international user-base. Indeed, institutions from the UK were among the first to enquire about and commit to institutional and founding institutional memberships.
What is the long-term plan for the Foundation? Is the idea that this will be a fixed term to get to a stable AtoM 3 release? Or will the Foundation be a continuing entity?
The plan is definitely for the Foundation to be a continuing entity. One of the big challenges with the current version of AtoM is that there was no governance structure established after its initial development. The Foundation will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the continued development and maintenance of AtoM 3, including release management and testing (bug fixes, new features, community code contributions), documentation, training, and promotion. This is no small undertaking, so we need to plan for the long-term sustainability of the Foundation, and AtoM, beyond the initial development of AtoM 3.
Are organizations able to change membership levels? Say if we were to contribute $2000 as a founding institutional member in the first year but then change to a $500 contribution per year going forward – would this be acceptable? Are these amounts fixed? Or would varying levels of contributions be accepted?
Definitely. We will likely only offer new founding institutional memberships in the first year, and the current rate will be fixed for at least three years. But you’re not committed to staying at that level, or continuing the membership for that matter. Varying levels of contribution are also possible by adding a donation to the base membership. These are the categories established by the Board to facilitate start-up of the Foundation, so they will likely be revisited at a later date.
Can software vendors join the Foundation?
Yes, software vendors are welcome to join the Foundation and be active participants in its activities. Indeed, the Foundation welcomes the unique expertise that developers can contribute to the AtoM 3 open-source project. However, membership does not privilege vendors in any way when it comes to contracting for development contracts with the Foundation. The Foundation is committed to an open and transparent procurement process.
What is the membership year?
The membership year is based on date of receipt. That is, your membership is valid for a year following receipt of payment.