Access to electronic journals may be dropped by Irish universities in early 2010
A note from my colleague, Dr Frank Bannister (prepared from memory and posted with his permission):
Last night the Librarian, Robin Adams, briefed the Fellows on the current state of play with regard to the IREL/on-line journal access service.
The position is not good and could have serious implications for staff and students at all Irish universities.
Briefly and from memory, the facts are as follows.
The service costs about €8-€8.5 million a year. Up to now, about €4.5m of this has been paid by SFI for science technology and medicine titles, but SFI have always said that their commitment was in the form of seed money and are now withdrawing their support. The HEA, which paid €4 million for humanities and social sciences titles are also stretched. But they may come up with some money. The worst case scenario may be €2 million, the best €3.5 million all from the HEA. The IUA have been approached about bridging the gap, but either cannot or will not provide the ~€5+ million needed. The university librarians are collectively negotiating with the publishers, but a major difficulty is that you cannot subscribe on-line to an individual title. Under this system the publishers only sell journals in bundles and this is expensive as well as inefficient and inflexible. The Nature Publication group of 350 or so journals alone costs €650,000 p.a.. Since inception, there have been about 4.5 million hits on the science and technology end of this service and four million hits on the social science end.
In the short end of the medium term it will cripple research activity and undermine teaching in most areas throughout the universities.
I am asking all academics to lobby anybody they know that has influence over this decision/funding, in particular the Minister for Education and Science and SFI. The HEA are aware of the problem and are supportive.
I am not given to being depressed, but I came away from the meeting feeling deeply demoralised. I am hopeful that the worst case scenario does not become a reality, various options are being explored by the librarians group.
Frank Bannister (email@example.com)