Library resources under threat

Some departments could lose access to up to 86% of journals.

A university bid to cut £120,000 from the library budget has led many online periodical subscriptions to come under threat.

Subscriptions to periodicals are one of the library’s biggest expenditures, and many subscriptions are due to be scrapped under the new spending review, with many more requiring Schools to justify their usage to be saved.

The library are basing their decisions on the amount of usage each subscription receives per year, and thus the cost per head this amounts to.

However, academics and school reps are concerned that many of these decisions are based on insufficient or non-existent data, and that while certain periodicals may go through periods of being  dormant, having access to them attracts many PhD students and academics to the University, and thus increases funding.

One example that has been cited by the School of History is the journals of Byzantine studies, which although inactive in 2012, have since attracted one the largest concentrations of Byzantine historians in the UK.

In the School of History, 78% of journals are under threat; with 22 marked to be axed and 102 under review, with academics being asked to justify their use. In the School of Languages, 79% of journals are under threat, in the School of Design 86% and in the School of English 68%. A large number of these under threat journals have no recorded data usage for the past three years.

Many are angry at the proposed cuts, especially in light of the University of Leeds being named University of the Year 2017 by The Times, large spending elsewhere on library infrastructure, and a reported university surplus of £57 million in the 2014-15 academic year.

The library currently spends around £5.5 million pound on information resources, and has asserted that even if journal subscriptions are cut, students will be able to access individual articles from these journals when needed for a small, one-off cost. Whether this cost would be funded by the university or the student has yet to be clarified.

A university Spokesperson told The Gryphon:

“The University Library is seeking to make a saving of just over 2% to its information resources budget. We are reviewing our journal subscriptions to identify items which are no longer of value to the current research and teaching interests of Leeds. We will be reporting the outcome of the review exercise over the coming months.”

The Library Representative from the School of History has stated:

“The School’s overall response to the request for recommendations was unwilling. Why, it was asked, is the University trying to make it harder for us to do our jobs? We are in fact using these resources. We assume that we are not unusual in this reaction.”

The information provided to The Gryphon was solely in regard to the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Culture; we are unable to confirm to what extent other faculties across campus will be affected.

Jessica Murray

(Image: Viola Luo)

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