Frame of Reference

For Formation of TEI Consortium

Document TEI ED A89

C. M. Sperberg-McQueen
Lou Burnard

Table of Contents


Several institutions have expressed an interest in bidding to become the host institution of the TEI. In order to make a sound choice, the TEI executive committee needs further information about what support each institution can offer the TEI. We intend, therefore, to engage in a systematic comparison of the offers from the various potential hosts. We foresee a process with several stages:

In order to enable each institution to gain a clear idea of what might be involved in acting as host institution for a TEI consortium, the rest of this document attempts to define a frame of reference for the creation of a TEI consortium. A general description of the consortium, as it might be, is provided in a separate document ( TEI ED A88). The next section reviews the current organizational structure and the financial arrangements of the TEI. Another section lists the executive committee's firm requirements and desiderata for the consortium and its host. The final section states more clearly what questions we hope each institution will be able to answer in its offer (the document due 31 October 1998).

Current TEI Organization and Finances


At present, the organizational structure of the TEI consists in:

The nature and responsibilities of the work groups and the technical review committee are described more formally in document TEI ED W48.

The TEI has tried to maintain an approximately equal balance of participation by Europeans and North Americans, with occasional Japanese participation when possible: in each work group, about half the members have been Europeans, about half Americans or Canadians, and about half the meetings of each work group have taken place in Europe and about half in North America.

Parts of the organizational structure just described have more concrete and practical existence than others: the steering committee, editors, and technical review committee all exist and have been meeting regularly. Several work groups are currently chartered, but most are just at the beginning of their work. The advisory board has met twice: once in 1989 to review the plans for the development of the Guidelines, and once in 1993 to review the draft Guidelines and endorse their completion and publication.


The financial arrangements of the TEI have varied over time. We have been fortunate in the past to have support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the European Commission, the Mellon Foundation, and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, which made possible the initial development of the Guidelines. During the original development of the Guidelines, grant support enabled the TEI to pay for

Other costs (telephone, mailing, computing facilities, network access) have been donated by the various institutions at which participants in the TEI work.

After the publication of the Guidelines, we have been without grant support for part of the time; for part of the time we have had grant support for dissemination and training activities, and most recently we have had support for one editor and for some technical work by work groups, but we have had no support for release time for the other editor, and his time has been donated in part, and in part reimbursed as consulting fees.

While we hope to be successful in obtaining grants for further development in the future, a funding model based solely on grants is not realistic for the ongoing maintenance of the Guidelines. One reason for organizing a TEI consortium is to ensure that a base level of funding permitting at least some ongoing activity is secured.

Requirements and Desiderata

The background just sketched has shaped the expectations of the executive committee concerning the institutional and financial requirements for the TEI in the future, but the executive committee has only a few absolute requirements in arranging for the future of the TEI. The TEI must have a permanent home. The new arrangements should provide for ample public comment and input into the TEI and its development.

The new arrangements must provide for the maintenance and extension of the Guidelines, with international scope and with approximately equal participation from Europe and North America. Any arrangements not meeting these requirements ought not to carry the name of the Text Encoding Initiative.

Beyond those base requirements, however, everything is open for discussion. While we do have some views on what would be desirable, our desiderata are all subject to negotiation.

We think it would be desirable to continue to organize the work of the TEI in work groups, so that individuals from more than one institution can participate. We think the editors and technical review committee should continue, with something like their current functions. We think the current procedures for technical work, or something like them, are probably best retained. We think it is desirable to subsidize travel for members of work groups and the technical review committee, so that participation in the TEI is not reserved to wealthy individuals and institutions.

Other aspects of the current organization or finances need not, and in some cases should not, be retained under a TEI consortium. The current sponsoring organizations are willing to transfer their responsibility for the TEI to the new consortium; with the transfer of responsibility, the current steering committee ceases to have a function and is expected to be replaced by governance bodies formed as part of the TEI consortium. It would perhaps be desirable to give the current sponsoring organizations some role in the future governance of the TEI, but this is not a requirement.

The current advisory board should probably be discharged with thanks, and the TEI's participating organizations invited to join the TEI consortium.

As already observed, we think the current work groups and technical review committee should probably be retained, though the process of chartering work groups will need to change. If a potential host institution wishes to propose another arrangement for the technical work, however, we are willing to discuss it.

The two current editors are willing, in principle, to continue to serve as editors of the TEI for the immediate future within the framework to be set up by the TEI consortium, but retaining the two current editors is not a precondition for agreement to locate the TEI consortium at a particular location. (As a matter of factual background, both current editors would prefer to continue living in their current homes; if this would represent a problem for a prospective institution, we need to discuss this question further viva voce.)

Questions for Prospective Hosts

From each institution interested in becoming the host of a TEI consortium, we would like to know:

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