by Barbara Black
A deal struck on behalf of 64 Canadian universities, including Concordia,
will save their hard-pressed libraries thousands of dollars.
The $50-million Canadian National Site Licensing Project (CNSLP) was to
be launched Sept. 11 in Halifax by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien,
but events in the U.S. led to the cancellation of the event. However,
scholars here have had access to the site since April. What makes
it important for researchers is the broad, easy access, said Mia
Massicotte, assistant director of collection services in the library.
The CNSLP provides desktop access to electronic versions of over 700 scholarly
journals and research databases in science, engineering, health and the
environmental disciplines. The material is available on-line to some 650,000
Canadian university researchers, post-doctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate
Faced with journal subscriptions that rose 207 per cent between 1986 and
1998 while purchasing power declined by 42 per cent, the universities
appointed a team of negotiators to act on their behalf. These negotiators
worked for two years to conclude an agreement with seven leading commercial
publishers of scholarly journals around the world.
William Curran, director of the libraries, said that some of the publishers
wanted to tie access to their electronic versions to the conventional
hard-copy version of their journal, but the negotiating team held out
for electronic data only. The trend toward electronic scholarly journals
is inexorable, he said, and the CNSLPs arrival is timely.
We are welcoming all these new young professors, about 30,000 across
Canada in the near future. What happens if they come in and say, I
absolutely need such-and-such a journal to do my work and
we dont have it?
The CNSLP was launched with $30 million from universities and provincial
governments, and another $20 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation
(CFI). Because of these grants, belonging to the CNSLP costs Concordia
about $55,000 a year. For this money, the library is getting far more
than it would if it had to buy subscriptions directly.
The Web of Science alone could cost $90,000 a year; through
CNSLP, this important electronic resource which allows scholars to know
all the citations that have been made of their research, is available
The deal is for three years, after which it will be up to the universities
to renew for another two years, but Curran and Massicotte hope that funds
will provide for the CNSLP to continue past that time frame.