Comparing CEL and desLibris

Canadian Electronic Library has been provided since 2006 on the ebrary/ProQuest platform, which is found in libraries throughout the world. 

The same content is now being offered on the desLibris platform.

Here is a comparison of the two services:


Currently identical; the same Documents and Books are available in both interfaces. As  it develops, however, desLibris will be adding Open Access content and other materials which may not be available in CEL. On the other hand, for academic libraries interested in purchasing and integrating CEL holdings with the 500,000 additional titles available through ebrary, the CEL/ebrary option may be a better choice.

Update frequency varies. desLibris content is updated weekly. CEL updates are monthly. And desLibris contains listings of forthcoming titles from publishers; these are not available in CEL.


desLibris pricing is generally lower than CEL.See here for price lists.


The user licenses are similar in all meaningful respects. See for the desLibris license.

Subscription term

Both services operate on a 365-day subscription term which may start anytime.

Perpetual Access

Both licenses guarantee perpetual access for Documents. This is explicit in desLibris. For Books, desLibris does not currently offer a perpetual access model, so any perpetual access licensing is done through the ebrary system.

Local Hosting

Permitted in both. In desLibris, the license contains this statement:
“Open Access Titles may be downloaded, stored in local storage devices and shared freely under the terms of the CreativeCommons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.”

Offsite Access and Authentication

Content is IP-authenticated in both systems. Both allow for offsite access through proxy servers.

Channels and Open URL

This is a significant difference between the two platforms. ebrary uses customer-specific channels to deliver content, which means that urls referring to any title are specific to the channel. deslibris on the other hand, because it does not use customer-specific channels, is able to offer "open urls" which are available to anyone, allowing public visitors to the site to view all titles in preview form. When a user from an authenticated site views the same title, however, the full document is displayed.


Free in both services. But because desLibris does not use site-specific urls, the 856 field in desLibris is standard. Thus desLibris MARC records are “generic.”

Online reading

Both services offer online viewing; no reader is required. The online reader in desLibris is a Flash-based viewer, but documents are rendered in HTML5 where Flash is not installed.

Download to devices

Currently only the CEL/ebrary option offers download of Books to portable devices. (desLibris provides no Book downloads.) In desLibris, Public Documents download is handled by offering a DRM-free PDF which the user may hold and use for any purpose permitted by the Creative Commons license. Books download will be available on desLibris in 2016.


The desLibris viewer has built in printing and copying. There are no limits to desLibris printing; the ebrary system imposes limits for technical reasons.

Usage reporting

Both options provide usage reporting.

Fulltext search

Both platforms offer search based on the fulltext of the document. In desLibris, this may be turn off or on by the user.