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Transforming Scholarly Communications

Negotiation and Licensing Strategy

This year, CRKN undertook and completed the renewal of several key licenses, including Taylor & Francis journals, Springer Nature journals, Center for Research Libraries’ (CRL) Global Resources, and ACUP / eBOUND ebooks. All of these licenses were renewed on a limited basis (one or two years) in recognition of the ongoing development of CRKN members’ priorities with respect to open access and the sustainability of scholarly communications. Some highlights include:

  • Addition of 25% discount on Article Processing Charges (APCs) for Taylor & Francis hybrid journals
  • Simplification of Springer Nature transfer journal process, migration to newest CRKN Model License, and one-time adjustment of license fees towards banded pricing
  • Removal of SUPO+ DRM from ACUP ebooks
  • Addition of three participants to CRL agreement

An important milestone of the 2019-2020 fiscal year was the open access workshop held on the second day of the CRKN Conference, entitled Transforming Scholarly Communications: Developing Canada’s Open Access Strategy. Participants heard from a diverse range of Canadian and international speakers who discussed their open access initiatives and outlined how they are using transformative agreements in the movement toward open access. Through a series of panels and discussions, delegates worked through key aspects of successful transformative agreement strategies, including aligning stakeholders, agreement structures, and approaches. The day ended with a facilitated workshop, where participants shared insights on the purposes, principles, participants, practices, plans of action, and pledges needed to support open access.

Preparation for the 2020 license renewals was a major focus as we approached the end of this year. In particular, preparing strategies for the renewal of major journal licenses, such as Elsevier ScienceDirect, Wiley-Blackwell, and SAGE, was a critical aspect of the Content Strategy Committee’s (CSC) work in early 2020. As part of the preparation for developing their negotiation objectives, the CSC reviewed the feedback received from members at the CRKN Conference, consulted international consortia about their own successful negotiations with these publishers, and reviewed the goals and tactics contained within the new CRKN Strategic Plan. Following approval of the negotiation objectives by the CRKN Board of Directors, a series of teleconferences were held to communicate them to the membership and elicit further input on strategies for these renewals.

A critical outcome of the CSC and Board’s planning for these important renewals was the creation of the Stakeholder Alignment Group, a group of key individuals from across the research and academic communities in Canada, including University Presidents, Canada Research Chairs, representatives from the Tri-Agency, Universities Canada, U15, Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Chief Science Advisor, Chief Scientist of Québec, and others. This group will support CRKN’s negotiations with Elsevier throughout 2020.


Sixty-seven CRKN member libraries renewed their participation in the third phase of SCOAP³  (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access in Particle Physics Publishing), covering 2020-2022. To date, SCOAP³ funds, to which CRKN members and institutions around the world contribute, have enabled the open access publishing of over 32,000 articles at well below average article processing charge (APC) rates, and cover over 90% of the publication output in high-energy physics.

Expanding the Canadiana Collections

The Canadiana collections saw major improvements and enhancements throughout 2019-2020. The Early Canadiana Online portal and other thematic portals were integrated with Canadiana to create a single access point for published documentary heritage available through Canadiana.

Content added to Canadiana in 2019-2020 includes: Toronto World, The Nor’-wester (Calgary, Alta.), Journal de Lévis, The Agriculturist (Fredericton, N.B.), The Rossland miner (B.C.), The Morning Albertan (Calgary, Alta.)  and the Sydney Post (Sydney, N.S.). Annuals added include: Annual report for the Hospital for Sick Children (1881-87), Almanach curieux et intéressant pour l’année … (1778-84), Report of the Board of Managers of the Halifax Asylum for the Blind (1871-77) and the Annual meeting of the Victoria and Vancouver Island Council of Women (1895).

The Héritage collection was also enhanced with content added to the popular Letters Patent (Western Land Grants) collection, as well as to several Dept. of Indian Affairs collections, including material relating to the Caradoc Agency. Other collections that were enhanced include: Registers and ledgers cards of ships closed-out, and Nominal rolls and paylists for the Volunteer Militia.

Increasing Discoverability of the Canadiana Collections

A significant priority this past year has been increasing the discoverability of the Canadiana collections by sharing metadata (MARC and KBART records) both on the CRKN website and with external organizations (such as OCLC and 360KB). Over 90,000 MARC records have been shared. Additional agreements have been signed with both EBSCO and Ex Libris, and are in the process of being implemented.

In an effort to further enhance the discoverability of the Canadiana collections, KBART files have been shared with the following discovery systems: Alma, OCLC – WMS, SFX, 360KB, Ebsco Discovery Services, TrueSerials.

Decolonizing Metadata

CRKN is committed to working collaboratively and purposefully to decolonize the Canadiana collections by building on the work of other leaders in this area, including the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA)’s Indigenous Matters Committee, Greater Victoria Public Library, and Manitoba Archive Information Network. During the past year, the descriptive subject headings for the Canadiana collection were analyzed for sensitive terminology relating to Indigenous peoples. Over 1,500 subject headings were flagged as including Indigenous content. These headings were then mapped to updated controlled vocabularies developed by Canadian institutions through consultation with Indigenous communities. With the initial analysis completed, CRKN is beginning to move forward on implementing decolonized subject headings with guidance from the Preservation and Access Committee.

Providing Digitization, Access, and Preservation Services

CRKN provides full lifecycle support for members and stakeholders wishing to digitize, host, or preserve their documentary heritage. Services offered include high quality digitization, mass digitization, optical character recognition (OCR), metadata creation and enhancement, and hosting and preservation in the certified Canadiana Trustworthy Digital Repository (TDR). CRKN regularly digitizes, hosts and preserves materials from print, photographic negatives, slides, microfilm and microfiche for members and stakeholders. Over eight million pages of material from our members and stakeholders is hosted online and preserved in the TDR, which is one of only six in the world. Our partners include such institutions as government libraries, public libraries, museums, and archives.

Platform Development

This year, following the roadmap for platform development as approved by the Preservation and Access Committee, CRKN staff continued the process of splitting our digital repository into separate preservation and access platforms, each tailored to its function. The preservation platform will be based on Archivematica, replacing our custom system with an open source industry standard. The access platform will be built on standard components and technologies, such as the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) to align with other systems. To support this work, in 2019-2020, we migrated our digital content to a new distributed object storage cluster built on OpenStack Swift, replacing an older custom-designed repository. The new cluster automatically manages replication and redundancy of data across all four of our data centres, simplifying administration and increasing both system performance and resiliency.

Flowchart showing stages of the Canadiana platform development roadmap

Trustworthy Digital Repository

In 2019-2020, we completed a full review of Trustworthy Digital Repository (TDR) operations, infrastructure, policies, and practices. We also developed a work plan for ongoing improvements and for fully integrating the TDR into CRKN’s governance and operations. In July 2019, the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) completed the transfer of TDR certification from to CRKN.

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