Over the past decade, the Library has developed a comprehensive portfolio of scholarly information resources available in digital form. This includes e-book and e-journal collections, research databases, and specialized resources such as geographic information system tools, evidence-based medical resources and legal research tools. These resources – costing several million dollars per year - are central to our digital collection development and are licensed for the exclusive use of current uOttawa faculty, students, and staff, and in most cases, to affiliated researchers and health professionals. Virtually all of these resources are available remotely to students, faculty, and staff, via authentication through the proxy server. The Library signs license agreements with publishers and vendors in order to obtain access to these resources. These are binding documents that govern appropriate use as well as the responsibilities of the library for promoting awareness of copyright and other conditions of use (Conditions of use for electronic resources).
As the university is a large and complex organization, there are numerous categories of individuals who are entitled to access our licensed resources by virtue of their research or teaching, but who don’t fit the typical profile of a faculty member with an employee number. These include visiting professors; individuals with research grants; conference delegates; volunteers, etc.
For many of these circumstances, Information Technology provides ‘sponsored accounts’ (available for one year) for these individuals. Individuals need to be sponsored by a dean, director, or administrative delegate in order to qualify for a sponsored account.
The Library has received a growing number of requests for remote access, in the context of offering library privileges for certain individuals and groups that have a link with the University of one sort or another. These requests need to be handled on a case by case basis to ensure that our actions remain within the spirit of our license agreements, i.e. that we only grant an account to persons who have a bona fide relationship with the university, in regards to research and teaching activities. The danger of extending access to individuals who do not have such a relationship lies in the possibility that such an individual may violate our license agreement in an egregious manner, i.e. systematic downloading of articles or other documents, which could jeopardize access for the university community and lead to greater scrutiny by the publisher or vendor of our internal practices for determining who is entitled to remote access. Potentially this could lead to the cancellation of an agreement and permanent loss of access to a specific resource.
In light of the above, the Library’s policy regarding sponsored accounts for remote access to licensed electronic resources is as follows:
- The Library, as administrator of various license agreements, needs to ensure that our actions respect our binding agreements and do not unduly jeopardize access to these resources by the university community;
- The Library will examine each request made to the library for remote access to electronic resources on an ad hoc basis to judge whether it is appropriate to grant the request or not, based on an assessment of the university affiliation or relationship of the individual or group concerned;
- Individuals or groups that don’t have a current affiliation with the university, as outlined above, will generally not be granted access. Exceptions can be granted on a very limited basis and only for compelling reasons, to be determined on an ad hoc basis by the University Librarian and others as appropriate. Individuals may also make a direct request for an IT-sponsored account to a dean, director or their administrative delegate.
It is important that everyone in the university community in an administrative capacity be aware of this issue and its impact on the university as a whole.
Approved by CODI
December 18, 2009