CRL and Electronic Resources

Monday, January 23, 2012

We have entered a new era for CRL as a framework for cooperative collection development.  In recent years, faced with the significant and growing costs and complexities of major humanities and social science databases, many member libraries have turned to CRL for support.  In 2008 we began to negotiate the acquisition and licensing of electronic resources in our traditional areas of collection concentration: news, government archives, special collections, and foreign language materials.  For example, we obtained favorable terms for purchase of Oxford University Press’s Electronic Enlightenment and Adam Matthew’s Foreign Office Files for India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  In October we engaged Ann Okerson to help craft a plausible strategy for further CRL work in this area.  We also created the Global Resources Forum as a framework for sharing analysis and information on new and forthcoming databases.  (We are now assessing Gale’s forthcoming Nineteenth Century Collections Online.)

Three weeks ago CRL collection development staff met with the senior leadership of two major national site licensing organizations: the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) and Joint Information Steering Committee of the Higher Education Funding Council, UK (JISC Collections).  The meeting was to explore the special challenges of licensing and acquiring primary source electronic resources, and preserving those resources for the long term.  Our conversation focused on major databases of government information and archives, news, financial, demographic and geospatial information, and humanities and social science materials in non-English languages.  We discussed the respective priorities and unmet needs of the three organizations with regard to acquiring vital but costly research databases.

I am happy to report that CRL, CRKN and JISC Collections have agreed to combine expertise and resources to improve access to these kinds of materials, and to work together to better support our respective national and regional research priorities and strategies.  The group concluded that international collaboration on licensing and on tools for related decision-making is both essential and doable.  Next steps will include the mapping of common national-level needs, assessments of key major databases, and a possible pilot for joint licensing.   We will continue to inform you as this exciting partnership develops. 

Meanwhile, I am also happy to report that CRL will begin fiscal year 2013 with an enlarged community of 265 members.  The CRL membership renewal period for the coming fiscal year ended on December 31.  260 of the 262 CRL member institutions we began the year with renewed for 2013, and CRL gained five new members during the current year.   This continued growth positions CRL to do greater things, and to become an even more effective vehicle for cooperative collection development.

Bernard F. Reilly
President (2001-2019)
Center for Research Libraries