David Porreca (left) was an employee in the User Services Department of the Library for the last three years. He recently moved to England to pursue PhD studies in the history of ideas (medieval philosophy) at the Warburg Institute, University of London. His studies are partially funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant.
Mark Spielmacher (right) recently graduated from the Doctoral program in English at the University of Waterloo. His dissertation entitled "Technologized Subjects in the Novels of Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo" investigates the impact of computers, dossiers, and surveillance, along with individual acts of resistance and personal discourses, on subjectivity and identity. Currently he teaches sessionally in the Department of English and works part-time at the Davis Centre Library.
In academia, one kind of currency ensures another: funding is necessary to keep libraries stocked with academic journals. In any discipline, in order to progress towards understanding, it is absolutely crucial to have the ability to participate in the on-going "conversation" which is current scholarship. Periodicals represent one of the most immediate and accessible forums in which this conversation can take place. Without the up-to-date reports, new theories, and experimental results found in current journals, it is impossible for a scientist to follow current debates and threads of speculation in his or her field. The hapless scholar is left isolated, unable to contribute meaningfully to the progress of human knowledge.
The problems related to the loss of journal subscriptions are manifold: one is automatically cut off from browsing through current issues, browsing which often triggers new thought, or, at the very least, keeps one abreast of new developments. The library thus becomes a place to find old articles rather than a place of illumination, more an archive than a place of inspiration.
There is no doubt that a well-stocked periodical section enhances the quality of scholarship. Colleagues in the humanities have referred to the library as their laboratory. Reduce the incoming flow of information and you take away the very substances that allow scholars to thrive. Granted, some journals may seem accessible only to a very small number: the very specialization that makes them so valuable also makes them unintelligible to anyone outside that particular discipline. There is, then, a need to maintain a collection that accommodates every specialized field that the University of Waterloo nurtures. In addition, it is important that the periodicals be properly indexed in relevant databases and abstracts. These resources are just as important as the journals themselves, for they are the tools that allow one to access the current and specialized information.
The foregoing is a plea from two would-be scholars who know very well the agony of cancellation. With every periodical unavailable, with every cancelled subscription, it becomes that much harder to contribute to the conversation.
David Porreca and Mark Spielmacher
Scholarly journals have world-wide reach. Commercial enterprises publish a large proportion of scientific, technical, and medical journals. During the last 25 years there has been unprecedented exponential growth in the generation of new knowledge and hence publication. At the same time, costs of scholarly journals have far exceeded the general inflation rate. The reasons are several: monopoly pricing, foreign exchange rates against the Canadian dollar, growth in quantity, increases in the costs of ink, paper, and postage, and its seems, greater publisher profit. New disciplines and subspecialties continue to emerge, each with its share of journals, adding costs to existing journals and adding new titles that compete for the serials dollar. The growth in the number of journals published and escalating prices result in a common challenge: scholarly journals increasingly consume a disproportionate share of the Library's materials acquisitions budget, which grows at a much more measured pace, if at all.
A decade ago we might have hoped that the electronic journal would offer a solution. By purchasing a single "copy," for example, all faculty members, students, and staff might have access to a title, not only on this campus, but also within the TriUniversity Group of Libraries. Furthermore, we speculated that if the costs for printing, binding, and mailing disappeared, journals would be cheaper. None of these hopes were realised. Publishers claim that their greatest costs are in the editorial process and since in the short run e-journals are transformations of existing publications, producing an electronic version is an added cost. Publishers have been quick to move into licensing on the basis of the number of potential users as their pricing mechanism, preventing a licence for a single campus serving multiple campuses.
Collectively the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) is an important market share for scholarly journals. OCUL will be able to negotiate the best prices for e-journal licences. Significant dollar savings are unlikely; nevertheless, many more titles should be accessible province-wide, with the important added value of access from office, laboratory, and home. To be financially feasible, e-journals will have to substitute for, not be in addition to, the print version.
This fall, the Library in conjunction with its TUG partners, University of Guelph and Wilfrid Laurier University, provided students and faculty with web access to over 80 electronic indexes and abstracts covering a broad range of disciplines. A few examples include: Current Contents, MLA, INSPEC, and PsycINFO, as well as clusters of individual databases found under the heading Biological Sciences or Environmental Sciences. These indexes can be used to identify journal and newspaper articles, conference proceedings, Canadian government publications, and technical paper literature. Some indexes also provide access to selected full text journal articles.
A number of these web indexes were purchased consortially for all three university libraries. (Some are restricted to members of only one or two of the universities. Icons created for the new interface clearly identify who has access to the databases.) Faculty, students, and staff at UW, UG, and/or WLU can access these resources using computers with web browsers in the university libraries, in their offices, student residences, and computer labs across campus, as well as remotely from their homes at the following URL:
riends including alumni, faculty, staff, parents, and members of the local community continue to enthusiastically support the Library. This year some 800 Friends donated funds to support the purchase of new materials, new technologies, preservation of rare materials, funding for student workers, processing of special collections, strengthening endowments, and supporting our journal collection.
Currently 47 journals and electronic products are purchased through donations to the Adopt-a-Journal program. For the last five years, donors have contributed approximately $20,000 each year to underwrite specific journal subscription costs. Student groups, companies, faculty members, staff members, and alumni participate in this program.
We have also used donations this year to purchase some of the new electronic indexes discussed earlier in this issue. These resources include:
Other electronic resources recently acquired include:
Support from our donors has also been used to build our mathematics collection.
We appreciate the continuing and generous support from our Friends and draw your attention to their names in our annual donor report, which is enclosed.
Friends of the Library Newsletter is a publication of the University of Waterloo Library. It is scheduled to be published twice yearly and is supported by the University of Waterloo Friends of the Library association.
Editor: Sharon Lamont
Assistant Editor: Esther Millar
Contributors: David Porreca, Murray Shepherd, Mark Spielmacher, Mary Stanley
Photography: (unless otherwise noted) Photo/Imaging, University of Waterloo
Printed: Graphics, University of Waterloo
Design: Christine Goucher
Esther Millarermillar@library.uwaterloo.ca January 6, 1999