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Consortia Canada  

About Consortia Canada

Consortia Canada is an informal group of library consortia representing all library types (public, post-secondary, health, special, and K-12 schools) working together to license electronic resources that are useful and relevant to members across the country. With a “made in Canada” approach, Consortia Canada’s primary goal is to contribute to the collection and organization of information and knowledge in digital form for the benefit of all Canadians.


Lead Consortium Model

When investigating a resource, one consortium acts as the lead, working with the vendor and coordinating efforts of the other consortia behind the scenes. Each consortium that chooses to participate coordinates communications with its own members. Consortia share the responsibilities of taking the lead.


Benefits for Consortial Members

Benefits for Consortia Canada members include:

•    An opportunity to develop new national partnerships
•    An opportunity to explore consortial best practices
•    Better discounts through participation in larger offers
•    The ability to participate in specialized databases that a local consortium would not have sufficient participants to pursue.


Advantages for Content Providers

•    Consolidated negotiations:  A lead consortium negotiates pricing, terms, and license agreements on behalf of all consortium in the country, thus eliminating the need to negotiate with many different people and groups and creating an efficient process.
•    Broad product awareness: The product information is posted on the Consortia Canada website for participating consortia to share with their member libraries, otherwise representatives would have to approach libraries individually.
•    Efficient renewal and invoicing process:  The lead consortium works with the content provider on renewal pricing and information; all orders are accepted through the lead consortium to the content provider.  One invoice from the content provider per participating consortia is the norm where possible.



History of Consortia Canada

In 1998 a group of Canadian consortia representatives met during the Denver meeting of the International Consortium of Library Consortia (ICOLC). Spurred on by examples from the United States and other countries, the group saw there were many advantages to acting collaboratively at the national level. Numerous reasons exist for adopting a “made in Canada” approach, many of which remain true today:

•    A geo-political structure that makes Canada unique, and doesn’t readily lend itself to US modes of operation;
•    Aggregating numbers across smaller Canadian consortia provides opportunities to obtain maximum benefits in consortial deals;
•    Collectively, the group can argue for specific requirements not available in the US (e.g. copyright provisions specific to Canadian legislation);
•    Collectively, the group can provide a larger market share for any one vendor and thus potentially influence the pricing structure used;
•    Finally, working Canada-wide provides libraries with an opportunity to create something new, and in a Canadian way.

Named Consortia Canada, the group focused its attention on procuring a national site license for the Canadian public that would provide electronic journals and related databases of relevance to Canada.

Today, Consortia Canada is made up of 22 consortia <http://www.concan.ca/institutions/index.php> across the country.



Guidelines and Operating Principles


Goals of Consortia Canada

1.    To provide affordable, universally accessible digital information to licensed content
2.    To promote the economical and efficient provision of information to all participating Canadian libraries and their clientele
3.    To increase the return on public investment in libraries, by increasing the availability and use of digital content through inter-institutional cooperative licensing
4.    To encourage the development of new forms of information delivery, dissemination, and communication through library consortia expertise, as well as experimentation in the development of digital library services
5.    To help libraries aggregate their buying power and influence, providing a “level playing field” for all types of libraries and all regions in Canada



The following types of content will be the focus:
•    Resources that have a wide appeal across all library sectors
•    Resources with Canadian content
•    Resources that may not be affordable locally without the advantage of aggregated buying power
•    Resources with high demand across the country; so that efforts may be pooled and not duplicated

Resources may be identified by any consortia member and presented at a Consortia Canada meeting or through the Consortia Canada listserv to see if there is interest/support amongst the consortia in pursuing a license.


Vendor Relations

•    The lead negotiating consortium will adopt a negotiations strategy and process that retains flexibility, so as best to position Canadian libraries in the information marketplace.
•    Implementation of national site licenses will be based on open, sound and ethical procurement practices.
•    Negotiations and implementation of national site licenses will adhere to emerging international standards and principles for licensing and accessing digital information resources, wherever possible.
•    Once a national site license product has been identified, participating library consortia agree to suspend any individual negotiations with vendors until the end of the process.  There may be exceptions to this when necessary, such as when provincial licenses are under consideration but in such cases the lead consortia negotiating shall be contacted.
•    It is not a requirement that all members of any consortium participate in the licensing initiative. 



Governance and Management

Participation in national site licensing initiatives will be conducted through existing library consortia (formal or informal).

Initiatives will adopt legal and technical systems of delivery that are cost-effective, accountable, and sustainable.

One consortium acts as the lead, working with the vendor and coordinating efforts of the other consortia behind the scenes. Each consortium coordinates communications with its own members. Consortia share the responsibilities of taking the lead.

The governance and management structure will ensure accountable decision-making at the individual consortium level, and build on the communications infrastructure that exists in current library consortia. In addition, inter-consortia communication will be facilitated through existing consortia staff and the use of a “Consortia Canada” listserv. 

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