Volume 92, Issue 83

Wednesday, March 5, 1999


Sparse group of students gathers to discuss education

Students meet to influence budget

Fanshawe bus pass raises Western questions

Transcript changes compare marks

Budget cuts threaten library resources

Weed progress is home grown

Discussing the future UN


Budget cuts threaten library resources

By Wes Brown
Gazette Staff

A trend occurring in the libraries of Canadian universities which may decrease the quality of student-based research was recently brought to Western's attention.

Joyce Garnett, director of libraries at Western, said a decrease of scholarly journals in Western's libraries, due to reduced budgets, a wavering Canadian dollar and higher prices, has adversely affected the quality and amount of resources available to students.

This decline in information access is a fear she said should be on the minds of students and administration alike.

"Ten years ago [Western] had 18,000 separate journal subscriptions, now there are 14,000. This reduction is due to budget cutbacks and the increase in the cost of materials," Garnett said.

"Faculty members submit free research to these journals and then they turn around and sell it back to the universities at an inflated price. Journal prices have gone up 18 per cent from 1998 to 1999," she said.

She said many scholarly journals are published overseas by private firms and thus can charge what they want.

Dan Jorgensen, a Western anthropology professor and senator, requested an explanation for the reduction of academic journals in a Senate meeting last month. "Overall spending reductions do need to be addressed, however, this is a poor way to save on costs in the library system," he said.

Budget records show there has been a reduction in scholarly holdings even though there has been an increase in the overall budget. Jorgensen said the amount actually being cut from scholarly journals is $300,000 which, in comparison to university spending, is not much.

"[Western President Paul Davenport] has set the importance of research and the quality of education at a forefront for the university. These cutbacks have been inconsistent with these priorities," Jorgensen said.

Roma Harris, registrar at Western, said although budgets keep growing, they are not keeping pace with the rising costs. "The budget for Western's library and information acquisitions does receive high priority. Price gauging by vendors and currency levels are two things that the university can't control."

She added online journals are one avenue the university may explore in the future.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999