Brought to book

September 2, 2005

Jon Baldwin's article (Opinion, August 26) prompts me to contrast my experiences as an independent researcher in accessing UK and Canadian university libraries.

In the two UK establishments with which I am most familiar, access is barred by a turnstile requiring the insertion of a magnetic card that proves some sort of continuing (paid) association. I have also been told that access to electronic journals is limited to current staff and students.

By comparison, the three Canadian universities that I have visited (Toronto, Guelph and McMaster) all have free-access policies. Two of the libraries loaned me a "courtesy" photocopying card as I was a day visitor and one faxed a 35-page article to the UK without charge. When I asked to access electronic journals, I was told I would need a day permit; also issued without charge. Could a UK university librarian please explain the difference in practice?

Hugh McCredie

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