Roundup: “University of Ottawa Puts Thousands of Journals On The Chopping Block”, Book Budget Also Reduced
From the CBC:
The University of Ottawa’s library is moving to cancel subscriptions to thousands of academic journals to make up for a budget shortfall, but the academic community has started an online petition calling on the school to rethink the plan.
Administrators blame a weak Canadian dollar, a two-per-cent budget cut across the board at the university for the 2016-17 year and a failure to index the budget against inflation, which is estimated at six per cent per year on scholarly materials.
The library will reduce spending on subscriptions to thousands of online and print journals and databases to make up $1,527,000 [approx. $1.145 million/USD] of the shortfall, and will reduce book purchases by $400,000 [approx. $300,000/USD]
Tony Horava, associate university librarian (collections), spoke with the Fulcrum about the main reasons why the university made this decision, saying, “We’re facing a bunch of shortfall, about $1.9 million … collections materials costs, like books, journals, and databases go up every year by about five or six per cent.”
Horava also said that due to the exchange rate between the U.S. and Canadian dollar, the U of O loses money when purchasing journals and other material from U.S. providers or publishers.
Another reason for the cuts to these subscriptions was a two per cent cut to all services and departments at the university, which led to a loss of $520,000 to the library, according to Horava.
Horava said that in the spring of 2016, the university cancelled subscriptions to journals and databases that were of “low value” or duplicated by other resources. This year, however, these cancellations “will definitely have an impact on students and researchers.”
However, Horava notes that “There are alternatives out there,” such as open access books or interlibrary loan requests.
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Resources (via U of Ottawa Libraries)
- Additional Individual Journal and Database Titles Being Cancelled)
- Collections Cost Reduction Strategy Briefing (September 23, 2016)
Steffany Bennett, a member of the board and a professor with the faculty of medicine, called on the university to preserve the university’s library holdings, which the university recently put on the chopping block in an effort to save approximately $1.5 million.
“We made a terrible mistake,” Bennett said in a passionate presentation before the board of governors.
She called on [University of Ottawa president Jacques] Frémont to look at alternate ways of funding to avoid “death by a thousand knife cuts.”
However, Bennett did not lay the blame squarely on the university’s shoulders.
“We are being held hostage by the publishers … who are charging us exorbitant prices to access journals we publish and use.”
A petition calling on the university to eliminate the library cuts currently has nearly 3,000 signatures.
Frémont said the university would “immediately” create a working group that would be overseen by the head librarian.
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.