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?