Proposal to charge Francophone and bilingual CRKN member institutions a significantly higher price than Anglophone institutions for a full collection rejected by the CRKN Board of Directors
July 18, 2018, Ottawa, Ontario – Under the direction of its Content Strategy Committee (CSC) and with approval from its Board of Directors, the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) will not be renewing its national license with Cairn, an aggregator of Francophone publications in the social sciences and humanities. This decision comes after Cairn indicated it would not remove its language-based pricing policy where Francophone and bilingual CRKN member institutions are charged a significantly higher price for the full collection than Anglophone institutions. As a national partnership of Canadian universities that include French-language, English-language, and bilingual institutions, CRKN members are not willing to endorse a proposal with differential pricing based on language.
In its last license renewal negotiations with Cairn in 2014, CRKN was not successful in its attempt to come to an equitable pricing model for all CRKN member institutions, regardless of language. Recognizing the high-value of the French-language content that Cairn provides to CRKN members, CRKN agreed to a one-year extension in 2017 with the goal of resolving this impasse through negotiating a multi-year agreement. CRKN brought the issue to its Annual General Meeting in 2017 where members agreed that Cairn’s language-based pricing was contrary to our shared values of creating fair pricing, regardless of language.
In discussions with Cairn, it was indicated that they would not consider changing the current pricing model for their full package. In consulting with the Francophone CRKN member institutions that are most impacted by Cairn’s language-based pricing, CRKN requested guidance from the Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire (BCI) whose library directors’ committee unanimously supported a principled stand against language-based pricing. In response to this, Cairn proposed a title-by-title selection option for a subset of the titles currently available in the full collection with pricing based on CRKN’s banding system. The details of that proposal were reviewed and discussed by the CSC, however the committee members felt that this did not adequately address the issue of differential, language-based pricing, and therefore, was not acceptable.
“The CSC has a responsibility to oversee the needs of all of CRKN’s 75 members in a fair and equitable manner. Further, CRKN’s Board of Directors felt that CRKN should lead by example by taking a principled stand against language-based pricing. It is always the goal of the CSC to reach an agreement with our vendors but this cannot come at the cost of language-based equality,” stated Todd Mundle, University Librarian, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, CRKN Board of Directors member, and Chair of the CSC.
“The BCI recommended that CRKN, as a national organization that represents French, English, and bilingual institutions across the country, negotiate agreements that reflect Canada’s need for fair pricing for both languages. While we recognize that many Francophone and bilingual institutions require Cairn’s high-value content, a national agreement that represents the needs of Canadian institutions should not be based on language. We support CRKN’s refusal to accept an offer that is contrary to our shared values and principles,” said Guylaine Beaudry, Vice-Provost, Digital Strategy and University Librarian, Concordia University.
For more information, please contact:
Director of Marketing and Stakeholder Engagement
Canadian Research Knowledge Network