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Canada's scientific infostructure: About Csi

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Csi Partnerships and Collaborations


Federal Science eLibrary


CISTI and Université de Montréal partner on feasibility project


Universal, seamless and permanent access to information for Canadian research and innovation

What is Csi?

The first goal of CISTI's Strategic Plan 2005-2010 is to provide universal, seamless and permanent access to information for Canadian research and innovation. CISTI is working to achieve this goal through a program called Canada's scientific infostructure (Csi).

The Csi program aims to build a national information and technology infrastructure or "infostructure" that will provide electronic access to full-text digital content to Canadians, regardless of their geographic location or affiliations.

The building blocks of the Csi program — digital content, technology infrastructure and discovery tools to facilitate information use — will be achieved and sustained through new and renewed strategic partnerships and collaborations with stakeholders in the library and information community.

Why it's important

The Canadian research community needs broad and immediate access to scientific, technical and medical (STM) digital content, such as electronic journals. Almost all scientific information today is published in an electronic format, which provides significant benefits in terms of accessibility, timeliness and usability. However, providing access to electronic information is costly, in terms of licences, infrastructure and maintenance, and many libraries do not have the resources to offer this access.

Canadian academic libraries have faced the same challenges and have achieved success using a collaborative approach; the Csi program is modeled on this success. CISTI is working with the library community, publishers and vendors on the Csi initiative to ensure that users will have access that is:

  • barrier-free, with a single point of access at the desktop;
  • secure, to meet intellectual property and security concerns of both publishers and users;
  • rapid and available immediately;
  • equitable and universal, to guarantee that Canadian researchers are not disadvantaged by geography or organizational affiliation; and
  • permanent, to resolve the concerns of librarians about enduring and sovereign access to material for which they have already paid.

What we have achieved so far

With investment from NRC, CISTI has already built a technology infrastructure to provide electronic information and services to NRC researchers across the country. Although built for NRC, this infrastructure was designed to be easily expanded to serve a broader user group. The Csi program is leveraging NRC's investment in this existing infrastructure to build and maintain a full-text infrastructure for the benefit of all Canadians.

CISTI is continuing to make significant progress in building the digital repository, technical infrastructure, and the tools and services to manage the information.

To date, over 4.5 million articles and more than 3,000 electronic journals have been loaded onto the new technical platform. By spring 2006, there will be 7 million articles (including digitized backfiles) from multiple publishers available from the digital repository.

Over the past year, CISTI has designed and developed much of the technology infrastructure to offer electronic information and services to researchers across the country. To ensure long-term sustainability, CISTI and Library and Archives Canada (LAC) have developed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish business continuity and back-up facilities located at LAC in Gatineau, Québec.

The new infostructure has served as the platform for a pilot project for the Federal Science eLibrary. From November 2005 to January 2006, researchers from three federal government sites across Canada had access to the digital content. The pilot clearly demonstrated that Csi is both feasible and valuable to researchers. The proposed Federal Science eLibrary aims to deliver seamless and equitable access to full-text electronic STM journals to the desktops of all federal government researchers. The creation of an eLibrary is an important first step in achieving the goal of a national information infrastructure.

Looking ahead

In 2006 and beyond, CISTI will continue to maintain and update the technology infrastructure to ensure a secure, robust national infostructure that supports the research and innovation activities essential to a vibrant Canadian economy.

In addition, CISTI will identify and acquire new content, building a trusted digital repository that is recognized as a valued national resource by researchers and innovators across Canada.

CISTI will develop innovative tools to search, organize, analyze and integrate STM information that will facilitate knowledge discovery.

CISTI will also continue to launch pilot projects with collaborators to prove the concept, extend the reach and explore partner models for building and deploying content. CISTI and the Université de Montréal (UdeM) have recently developed a joint project to assess the feasibility of using the Csi as an archive for UdeM licensed e-journals and to identify and resolve issues of integrating the Csi into UdeM's service offerings to their clients.

A Canadian scientific infostructure will be achieved through the coordinated efforts of all key players in the digital environment. As Canada's national science library, CISTI has an important role as leader, initiator and catalyst in nurturing strategic relationships that will provide universal, seamless and permanent access to information for Canadian research and innovation.

For more information on CISTI's Csi program, please contact Lucie Molgat at lucie.molgat@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca or Bev Brown at beverly.brown@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca.

Date Modified: 2007-05-25
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