n Mousaion - The costs and benefits of journal ownership versus full-text electronic access in a university based Faculty of Science

Volume 26, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



The article describes a crisis in access to scholarly journals at the former University of Natal, Durban Campus Libraries between 2002 and 2004. The Libraries experienced a substantial increase in the costs of the journal collection. From 2002 to 2003 the increased foreign exchange rate and frequent increases in the price of journal subscriptions meant higher journal costs although costs were lower again for some titles held by the Library from 2003 to 2004. The library budget was not able to keep pace with these increases. The consequence was the cancellation of journal subscriptions together with the erosion of new book purchasing. The problem is not unique to this institution and to cope with it, libraries are coming to measure their collections and looking at alternative ways to overcome the journal crisis. The development of computer technology has greatly widened access to the journal literature but at a cost in money and a new demand for different skills.

A survey by questionnaire of postgraduate students and academic staff in the Faculty of Science, of the then University of Natal, Durban, gathered in-depth information on journal usage patterns. The Masters Degree study for which the fieldwork was conducted in 2003, sought to determine whether the shift from print to electronic formats would affect journal usage patterns and dependence on the physical library.

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