Course packs will be produced by Digital Store 

By Karen Herland

We hear complaints about increased student fees, but this might be one case where savings can be passed on.

As of the winter term, all course packs will be produced by the university’s Digital Store. Bookstore Director Lina Lipscombe said that the move to consolidate course pack production on campus has numerous benefits.

“We are doing this with the students in mind. We will produce course packs at a lower cost and reduce shortages and wait times if packs are sold out,” Lipscombe said. “I also think faculty will be pleased that we will have the material that belongs to them and will remain in the university.”

For the last several years, Concordia had a contract with Eastman Systems. The company managed the copyright permissions and production of the course packs ordered by faculty. However, because they absorbed the costs of unsold course packs, they tended to under-order.

“Students would show up to buy their course packs, and they would have to take a rain check,” Lipscombe said. “They would pre-pay and then wait anywhere from 48 to 72 hours,” at which point they would have to fight their way back through the inevitable early-term bookstore crowds to pick up their course packs.

Lipscombe said that it was the bookstore staff that bore the brunt of students’ frustration, not to mention the work required to order and process extra course packs.

She is confident that keeping everything in-house will help ensure that a reasonable number of course packs are available. She would like quicker turn-around time if supplementary copies are needed. She will also oversee the purchase of a software system that will better calculate if and when individual packs have exceeded copyright limitations or whether copyright requests must be made directly with the publisher.

When copyright laws changed almost a decade ago, universities were able to buy a single collective license to handle a certain amount of reproduction of material for academic purposes. (Details are available at That allowed professors to assemble articles, chapters or other texts into a course package for students that assured that material would be current and tailored to local debates, instead of relying on a one-size-fits-all textbook.

According to Lipscombe, that practice has grown from perhaps two dozen course packs produced for Concordia courses to almost 400 for the fall semester.

The Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec (CREPUQ) establishes an annual amount each university must pay, based on FTEs.

Previously, students were paying an extra two cents per page when they bought course packs in order to cover that licensing amount. As Lipscombe points out, this unfairly placed the financial burden on those students who bought course packs even though those making their own photocopies were also benefiting from the license.

However, the amount levied from universities has increased steadily from under five dollars per FTE to over $20 per FTE. The charge of two cents per page was not covering the full amount and the university had to pay the difference — $400,000.

This summer, the Board of Governors passed a motion to collect the fee from students directly on a per-credit basis, similar to the practice at other Quebec universities. As a result, the price of course packs was reduced by two cents a page for the fall term. By producing course packs in-house, the bookstore will further reduce the cost of course packs by another cent and a half per page.

Professors are encouraged to send either digital or paper copies of their course packs to the bookstore, preferably before Dec. 1, for the January term. Digital copies, and any questions, can be forwarded to


Concordia University