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Consortia: anti‐competitive or in the public good?

Catherine A. Maskell (Leddy Library, University of Windsor, Windsor, Canada)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 13 June 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report on research that examined the potential affects of academic library consortia activity on the scholarly publishing cycle.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi‐structured interviews of 30 university librarians from across Canada and representatives from six federal government agencies involved in university funding, copyright and competition policy, were used to examine consortia activity in the broad context of the scholarly publishing cycle from the competing perspectives of the market economy and the public good. The principles of competition and copyright were used to define the theoretical premise of the research.

Findings

University librarians primarily see consortia activity as supporting academic libraries' public good role of providing access to information as equitably and as barrier‐free as possible. They saw consortia as more than just buying clubs, but also as a means for libraries to share resources and expertise. Federal government agency representatives saw consortia activity firmly anchored in the market economy, levelling the playing field between libraries and publishers, and providing libraries opportunities to leverage their budgets.

Research limitations/implications

This research was unique to the Canadian situation of federal funding of universities and only a sampling of university librarians was feasible.

Practical implications

The results show a need to educate librarians and government funding bodies and policy makers as to the goals and outcomes of consortia activity.

Originality/value

At the time of the defence of the thesis this work had not been done before.

Keywords

Citation

Maskell, C.A. (2008), "Consortia: anti‐competitive or in the public good?", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 164-183. https://doi.org/10.1108/07378830810880298

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited