Volume 93, Issue 53

Thursday, December 2, 1999


CFS joins WTO protests in Seattle

Radioactive violations close labs

Research may take London Home

McGill library forced to cut materials


Bass Ackwards

McGill library forced to cut materials

By Leena Kamat
Gazette Staff

Increasing journal prices have forced McGill University's library system to decide what research material it will not be able to afford.

Frances Groen, director of libraries at McGill, said the library system will have to cut approximately $600,000 worth of journal subscriptions by the new year as a result of increasing prices.

The $5 million collections budget is inadequate for current journal prices, Groen said. The increasing prices, coupled with the low buying power of the Canadian dollar, have resulted in this deficiency, she added.

"We buy two kinds [of materials] – books and journals," Groen said, adding the library was taking money out of the books budget and re-routing it into the journals fund, however it had been stretched to its maximum.

"The commercial publishers will charge whatever the market will pay," Groen said. Some journals have price jumps as much as 15 per cent each year.

The overall library budget has been cut by 25 per cent in the last five years, Groen said, adding the library has done all they could to prevent massive journal cuts, including intensive research sharing with other universities.

Xavier Van Chau, vice-president of university affairs for the Students' Society at McGill, said the students are unhappy about the cuts and have recently taken action.

A Library Improvement Fund was set up several years ago which currently receives $14 from each student, through student fees. "This is one of the fees students advocate," Van Chau said, adding the fee jumped from $10 in previous years to its current rate in response to the ongoing predicament.

Groen said she was pleased with the students' efforts and the money collected this year will be put toward the book budget. "As a student, you have to have books," she said.

"The commercial publishers have realized how little competition there is," said Joyce Garnett, director of libraries and chief librarian at Western.

Garnett added Western libraries received an increase of five per cent in the last budget and added the addition was not sufficient to overcome the 8-15 per cent price increase of journals which occurred in the fall.

Although approximately 5,000 subscriptions were cancelled in the last five years, Garnett said Western will not be axing any more subscriptions in the 2000-01 budget.

She added Western libraries spend about $6 million a year on journal subscriptions and $500,000 on electronic subscriptions. She said she expects the latter number to go up as electronic journals allow more people to access the information from anywhere outside the library.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999