On the Discourse of Journal Cuts

This month, Brock University’s library announced that they would be cancelling some online journal subscriptions distributed by Wiley-Blackwell. This will result in over 1300 journals being inaccessible to students and faculty at Brock University. Articles can still be obtained through interlibrary loans, but patrons will be unable to have immediate access to journals. You can read full details in this article.

The library’s rationale for the cuts can be read here. I want to highlight a quote for further discussion:

…Brock’s enrollment growth over the last decade has placed us in higher publisher pricing tiers for some products. Publisher price increases have far outstripped both inflation and the modest increases to the Library’s acquisitions budget. As well, the Library is significantly affected by currency fluctuations.

While it is a shame to see a valuable resource cancelled, it also highlights the differences between user expectations, librarians and online accessibility.

The average user does not necessarily understand how information can be denied to them. After all, Google can provide the answer to everything; information is supposed to be free, right? But in actuality, access to articles cost money. We pay it through our tuition and a librarian is usually the negotiator between what we have access to and on what condition (i.e. the amount of users that can use a resource simultaneously).

As online research becomes more popular and hard copies lose preference, journal subscriptions will reflect the money they are losing from print. This is all happening in a context where library budgets are being reduced and under pressure to meet the research needs of their users.

I predict that there will be other academic libraries (and other libraries in general) that will be forced to cut valuable subscriptions to meet budget demands.

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