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Transforming Scholarly Communications

As a community, CRKN members have demonstrated leadership and vision in transforming our scholarly communications systems to ensure sustainability and equitable access to scholarly content.  At CRKN, this transformative approach is embedded in our investments in open scholarship, negotiating and licensing with commercial vendors, and strengthening capacity in Canada for providing access to and preservation of heritage and cultural material. CRKN’s achievements over the past year demonstrate our ongoing commitment to expanding access to knowledge.

Negotiation and Licensing Strategy

CRKN made significant strides this year towards our goal of increasing access to research. In particular, 2021-2022 marked the launch of two new read-and-publish agreements with Cambridge University Press and Institute of Physics Publishing. Both agreements permit CRKN-affiliated researchers to publish in open access in both gold and hybrid journals with each publisher at no cost to authors. With the addition of these two publishers to our portfolio of transitional open access agreements, CRKN has now enabled close to 3,000 articles per year to be published as open access.

Within our traditional licensing activities, the Content Strategy Committee was successful in minimizing cost increases to subscription agreements, in particular by achieving historically low increases for the Springer Nature, Elsevier Scopus, and American Chemical Society renewals, and in the case of Taylor & Francis, a reduction in members’ costs for that license.

In 2021-2022, CRKN added Taylor & Francis and Springer to Unsub. The Unsub consortial dashboard was leveraged in renewal negotiations, and members have used it locally in collections management activities.

Open Access Strategy

This year, the Content Strategy Committee undertook the development of a set of Assessment Guidelines for Open Access Publishers. These guidelines are meant to complement the Licensing Principles and will be used to assess open access offers and initiatives that are proposed to CRKN by fully-open access publishers.

CRKN members once again participated in one of the world’s most highly regarded open access projects, the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics, or SCOAP³. This year, the SCOAP³ agreement was extended for an additional two years, 2023-2024, ensuring that the global publication output in the discipline of high energy physics will remain openly accessible around the globe. SCOAP³ is made possible by the partnership of over 3,000 libraries, funding agencies and research organizations from 44 countries, and CRKN and its members have played an active role in its development, governance, and ongoing sustainability. Since its inception in 2014, SCOAP³ has made possible the publication of nearly 50,000 open access articles at no charge to authors.

CRKN members also participated in the third round of the Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services (SCOSS), which provided funding to three critical open access services and infrastructure: arXiv, Redalyc/AmeliCA, and DSpace. SCOSS continues to be managed by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) and CRKN in Canada, and our members collectively pledged nearly CA$400,000 over three years, making Canada the second highest contributor to SCOSS globally.

In addition, CRKN members pledged US$137,000 to the MIT Press Direct to Open project last year, making a significant contribution to the success of this open access initiative. As of September 2021, CRKN handles central licensing and invoicing for Direct to Open for our member libraries.

Publication Data Report

As part of our commitment to making evidence-based decisions and developing data-driven strategies for our content licensing program, CRKN delivered to members, for the first time this year, a Multi-Publisher Publication Data Report, covering the publication output in scholarly journals of authors affiliated with CRKN member institutions from 2018 through the end of 2020. The report will be updated and expanded for future years as we gather additional data.

Our goal with the publication of this report is to allow CRKN members to view and analyze their institutional publication output for the purpose of informing renewal decisions and strategies, particularly when it relates to open access agreements. The complete dataset is also of benefit to CRKN staff and the Content Strategy Committee in the analyses that inform negotiations for these agreements.

HCPTG Report Implementation

The Heritage Content Priorities Task Group (HCPTG) released its Final Report in January 2021. This report outlines the 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.

Under the guidance of the Preservation and Access Committee (PAC), a plan for implementation of the report’s recommendations was drafted. An implementation timeline was also developed to facilitate prioritizing resources appropriately. Several tasks have been completed, including:

  • CRKN’s newspaper strategy was updated to reflect the principles articulated in the HCPTG report: representative, collaborative and open access
  • The Terms of Reference for the Canadiana Content Sub-Committee, tasked with providing guidance and recommendations for developing and enhancing the Canadiana collections, were drafted and a call for nominations went out in early March 2022.

Expanding the Canadiana Collections

The Canadiana collections continued to be expanded throughout 2021-2022 with particular focus on minority language communities as well as working class publications.

This year, we added 640,580 pages of content to the Canadiana collections including 3,219 annuals issues (292,094 images), 4,046 newspaper issues (27,673 images), and 162 Héritage reels (320,813 images).

Content added to Canadiana in 2021-2022 includes:  Annual report … : our Indian homes, at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, the Shingwauk Home for Boys, opened 1875, the Wawanosh Home for Girls, opened 1879 [187-?-18– or 19–], Report of the Protestant Poor Relief Committee, for the winter of … [185–18–], The Evening gazette, Saint John, N:B, [1888-1893], Calender für die Versammlungen der Mennoniten Gemeinde in Canada West und im Staat Neu-York, auf das Jahr unsers Herrn …[18–?], The Canadian labor press [1919-1963?], Rapport annuel de la Prison de réforme, Bas-Canada [185- ou 186–186-], Rapport annuel de la Société de Québec pour la protection des animaux [1870?-19–] and the Winnipeg city directory [1883?-18—or 19–].

In partnership with Library and Archives Canada (LAC), the Héritage collection was enhanced with content added to the popular Letters Patent (Western Land Grants) collection, as well as to several Department of Indian Affairs collections, including the School Files Series, the Thousand Series, and the Black Series of the Central Registry System. Several reels were also added to the Second World War Directorate of Movements collection.

Increasing the Discoverability of the Canadiana Collections

CRKN continues to improve discoverability of the Canadiana collections. Staff completed training to participate in the Name Authority Cooperative Program (NACO) and have contributed several authority records to the Program for Cooperative Cataloguing. These authority records are used by CRKN members and libraries internationally. In 2021-2022, 41 new authority records were created, and seven existing ones were updated. Cataloguing and the publication of MARC records also continue: during the year, 480 annuals were catalogued along with 29 newspapers including over 11,000 issues. CRKN also doubled its Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capacity, which will facilitate improved searching of materials, particularly the Héritage collection.

Digitization and Preservation Services

CRKN provides full lifecycle support for members and stakeholders wishing to digitize, host, or preserve their documentary heritage materials. Services offered include high quality digitization, mass digitization, optical character recognition (OCR), metadata creation and enhancement, and hosting, as well as preservation in the certified Canadiana Trustworthy Digital Repository (TDR).

This year, CRKN carried out digitization projects with OurDigitalWorld, the University of Victoria Libraries, the Victoria West Athletic Association, Musicworks, and the Saskatchewan Legislative Library. We also carried out Optical Character Recognition (OCR) work for the Canadian Museum of History.

Hosting and preservation projects continue for long-term partners such as the McGill University Archives, the Library of Parliament, Global Affairs Canada, and Numeris.

Ithaka S+R

In 2021, CRKN enlisted the services of Ithaka S+R to undertake an assessment of the market for our digitization, hosting, and preservation services. Ithaka S+R conducted research and consultations resulting in an assessment containing key takeaways about the position of CRKN’s heritage services within the market, and three potential directions for the future of these services. The team at Ithaka S+R presented their findings to members at the 2021 CRKN Conference.

Decolonizing Metadata

With the guidance of CRKN’s Preservation and Access Committee, CRKN staff are replacing inappropriate language in the metadata and resource descriptions introduced during legacy cataloguing practices. The first phase of this critical three-phase project is now complete. Phase I implementation has included replacing the subject heading “Indians of North America” with “Indigenous peoples” and “Indiens d’Amérique—Amérique du Nord” with “Autochtones.” “North America” has then been added as a geographical sub-division in the metadata or replaced with another geographical sub-division as appropriate. A “Statement on problematic content and descriptions in Canadiana” has been published as an accompaniment to the subject headings changes, and the changes have been incorporated into Canadiana MARC records.

CRKN also shared a spreadsheet outlining interim subject headings developed as a stop-gap measure while a national vocabulary is being established. The goal of this spreadsheet is to provide greater transparency to our work and to aid cataloguers pursuing decolonization and equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives at their own institutions.

Concurrently, staff began to create strategies and protocols for engagement with Indigenous communities to ensure that the changes being made are respectful and accurate.

Platform Development

This year, CRKN’s platform team completed the separation of the Canadiana preservation and access platforms, allowing them to evolve independently in response to changing member needs. From an architectural perspective, this will facilitate migration from CRKN’s custom preservation software to Archivematica, a popular open source solution. Likewise, in the future, this change will allow for more rapid feature development as well as the ability to leverage open source solutions and better interoperate with other platforms and technologies.

A significant update resulting from this was the implementation of the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), which has allowed integrating third party technology for accessing digitized content, and has introduced new capabilities including full-resolution zooming and panning of images. These changes improve support for large format content such as maps and newspapers.

CRKN also developed in-house technical knowledge on its OpenStack Swift object store cluster sufficient for staff to self-manage it, in response to the SwiftStack product previously used reaching its end of life in March 2022.

Trustworthy Digital Repository Audit

The Canadiana Trustworthy Digital Repository Audit Group (CTDR AG) formed in the spring of 2021 to conduct a review and audit of the Canadiana Trustworthy Digital Repository (TDR). This volunteer group consists of subject matter experts from member institutions and the GLAM community, and is chaired by Marie Waltz of the Center for Research Libraries. Ms. Waltz also led the audit group which originally certified the Canadiana TDR in 2015. The group has been meeting regularly to carry out its work and expects to produce a final report in the fall of 2022, outlining any areas of concern and providing recommendations for improvements to systems, infrastructure, and processes.

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