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Transforming Scholarly Communications

The work of CRKN is integral to Canada’s scholarly communications landscape. Over the past year, we negotiated cost savings and increased open access options for our members, and built the groundwork for future initiatives that will increase accessibility to scholarly and heritage content throughout Canada and the world.

Negotiation and Licensing Strategy

2020-2021 was a landmark year for CRKN’s licensing program, which was strongly supported by bold objectives from members, dedicated leadership from the Content Strategy Committee (CSC) and Board, and for the first time, direct support of CRKN’s negotiation objectives by leaders in the academic research ecosystem in Canada through the Stakeholder Alignment Group.

This resulted in two major achievements – a transformative open access deal with SAGE Publishing, and a significant reduction in the cost of CRKN’s subscription agreement for Elsevier ScienceDirect.

The agreement with SAGE permits authors affiliated with participating CRKN institutions to publish their articles open access in SAGE Choice journals with no Article Processing Charges (APCs), while articles published in gold OA journals are eligible for a 40% APC discount. The terms of this new agreement increase the accessibility of research published by Canadian researchers for readers across the globe.

Renewal negotiations for Elsevier ScienceDirect resulted in significant cost savings for CRKN members, notably a reduction of 12.5% in license fees in the first year and approximately USD $17 million in cost savings over three years. Additionally, an APC discount of 20% was negotiated, benefitting authors publishing in the majority of Elsevier’s journals. Finally, in alignment with our objective to further increase transparency in our license contracts, the ScienceDirect agreement is publicly available on the CRKN website for the first time.

This year, CRKN released its updated Licensing Principles that define our vision for transforming scholarly communications and ensure our approach is aligned with our mission and vision. In addition, CRKN was pleased to sign the OA2020 Expression of Interest, joining the University of Alberta and nearly 150 other research institutions and organizations with the goal of unlocking scholarly journals from subscription publishing systems and transitioning towards open access models.

Other major milestones from the 2020-2021 year include a new agreement with Public Library of Science (PLOS) under their Community Action Publishing model, allowing authors at participating CRKN institutions to publish open access in PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine without APCs; a reduction of 5% over two years for Wiley subscription license fees; elimination of hosting fees for GALE products licensed by CRKN; and a two-year renewal of the ACUP eBOUND agreement with an option for members to upgrade single-user to triple-user DRM.

Expanding the Canadiana Collections

The Canadiana collections saw significant improvements and enhancements throughout 2020-2021.

This year, we added 525,551 pages of content to the Canadiana collections including 3,014 annuals issues (229,503 images); 15,367 newspaper issues (154,648 images), and 71 Héritage reels (141,400 images). Content added to Canadiana in 2020-2021 includes:  Annual report of the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada ([185-?-18–]), Annual report of the Quebec Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ([1871-18– or 19–]), Annual Report of the National Council of Women of Canada (1894-1898), Toronto World [1880 or 1881-1921], Der Nordwesten-kalender für das Jahr … (Winnipeg, 1898-1900), the Free Press (Bridgetown, N.S.), and the Semi-weekly Colonist (Victoria, B.C.).

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 the School Files Series, the Thousand Series, and the Black Series of the Central Registry System.  

A “What’s New in the Canadiana Collections” section is now available on the CRKN website. The list is updated regularly and includes content that has been added online within the past four weeks at any given time, as well as content that is expected to be added within the next six to eight weeks.

Heritage Content Priorities Task Group (HCPTG) Final Report

The Heritage Content Priorities Task Group (HCPTG) released its Final Report in January 2021. This report presents an overview of the research and analysis done by the task group, as well as principles, criteria, and recommendations that will guide the development of the Canadiana collections and CRKN’s digitization, hosting, and preservation services. The goal of these recommendations is to ensure that the Canadiana collections and CRKN’s heritage services remain vital and continue to meet member and stakeholder needs.

Increasing Discoverability of the Canadiana Collections

A significant priority this past year has been increasing the discoverability of the Canadiana collections by incorporating enhanced metadata into library discovery systems. A master monographs MARC record file was created, and enhanced metadata is now available in EBSCO and OCLC systems.

In an effort to further enhance the discoverability of Héritage, a KBART file was created and has been incorporated into the following discovery systems: Alma, OCLC – WMS et WorldCat KB, SFX, 360KB, EBSCO Discovery Services, and TrueSerials.

Platform Development

The development of the Canadiana access and preservation platform is guided by the Platform Technical Task Group (PTTG), who helped form the technical development roadmap that includes community- and user-generated features and ensures the sustainability of the platform.

This year, a significant milestone of development was the separation of the Canadiana platform into two components to independently manage preservation and access functions. This split facilitates the further evolution of both functions in a flexible and responsive way.

The portal’s user interface was refreshed to be consistent with CRKN’s new branding and style. At the same time, the interface for downloading PDF documents was revised, and context-sensitive help dialogs were added.

Google Analytics is now being used to collect portal usage data. This is an interim measure that will bridge the gap between retiring the old metrics collection system, which was removed to facilitate further development, and implementing a new metrics system based on information gathering needs as defined by the user community.

Internal and end-user security and privacy have been improved by implementing IPSec for internal system communications, and encrypting all public web traffic connections using HTTPS.

The systems infrastructure has been upgraded so that all servers, software, and network equipment are current. An evergreening plan has been implemented to ensure that the infrastructure is refreshed at a regular rate and follows consistent standards and practices.

The Platform Technical Task Group (PTTG) provided advice and feedback on all aspects of platform development. Due to the ongoing value of its work, the group’s mandate has been extended beyond its original 2021 end date. It has been renamed the Platform Technical Sub-committee (PTSC) and will now have an ongoing mandate.

Digitization and Preservation Services

CRKN provides full lifecycle support for members and stakeholders wishing to digitize, host, or preserve their documentary heritage material. 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 provides digitization, hosting, and preservation of 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. This year, despite the pandemic limiting in-office work, CRKN staff carried out digitization projects with OurDigitalWorld, the University of Victoria Libraries and the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Hosting and preservation projects continue for long-term partners such as the McGill University Archives, the Library of Parliament, Global Affairs Canada, and Numeris.

Trustworthy Digital Repository

CRKN established the Canadiana Trustworthy Digital Repository Audit Group (CTDR AG) in February 2021 with a membership drawn from member institutions and other stakeholders. The audit group will conduct an arms-length review of the TDR in 2021-2022, ensuring that CRKN continues to follow best practices and is able to meet its digital preservation commitments.

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. In June 2020, the Preservation and Access Committee approved a multi-phase approach to decolonize subject headings in Canadiana.

Rights Statement Pilot Project

Accurate and complete rights attributions, as well as information on culturally sensitive materials, are important for researchers who plan to use and re-use content from the Canadiana collections. Rights statements and attributions provide details on how historical materials may be used and shared by the public, and protect the rights of creators and their communities.

To begin assessing the rights of materials contained in Canadiana, CRKN engaged in a Rights Statement Pilot Project with Canadian law firm Clark-Wilson in 2020. The goal of the pilot project was to create a framework for defining user rights on a sample segment of the Canadiana Collection. The resulting framework would then be applied to CRKN’s entire digital heritage collection.

At the 2020 CRKN Conference, an overview of the Rights Statement Pilot Project was presented to CRKN members with an opportunity for feedback. The response from members was positive and indicated a willingness for CRKN to proceed with the implementation of the project.

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