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The Age of Aquarius


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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, January 20, 1999

  • Library loses with lower loonie
  • Author donates diary to library
  • Teens, speed bumps, free pizza, etc.
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Library loses with lower loonie

In the UW library's annual report released this week, librarian Murray Shepherd warns that journal subscriptions may have to be cut. Since last year, the weakened Canadian dollar has slashed more than $250,000 from the library's buying power .

"Put another way, that's nearly 3,000 books or 400 journal subscriptions that we cannot buy because of the exchange rate alone," he said in the report. Some 90 per cent of books and scholarly journals purchased by the library come from outside Canada and are priced in U.S. dollars.

Journals swallow up a disproportionate amount of the acquisitions budget, with 70 per cent of the funds used for serials, including journals, and 21 per cent for books and monographs. As an example of the crunch faced by collections, Shepherd notes, "In 1998, an invoice for U.S. journals from a major supplier was 18.5 per cent higher than the previous year's invoice, and was for 134 fewer titles.

Hopes that electronic journals would help reduce costs have not been realized, he adds. Not only have electronic versions not replaced print journals, but publishers claim that electronic production has increased costs, said Shepherd. "Though the Ontario Council of University Libraries is attempting to negotiate the best prices for electronic journal licences, significant dollar savings are unlikely," he predicts.

"A a result of cost-saving measures in previous years, the Library was able to avoid a serials cancellation exercise in 1997-98." That won't be the case this year. While "preparations for a cancellation project in 1999 are underway," he adds, "we have reviewed the overlap in serials collections with our TUG (TriUniversity Group of Libraries) partners and are co-ordinating future cancellations with them to the best advantage of our users."

As well, UW is a charter member of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resource Coalition (SPARC), which works to keep a lid on costs. It "promotes access to information for research and teaching and encourages innovative uses of technology to improve scholarly communication." An example is a collaboration it fostered between the American Chemical Society and the Association of Research Libraries, which will distribute research results to libraries faster and at "significantly less cost."

Author donates diary to library --from the UW News Bureau

A marriage license, exotic and colourful wine labels, tiny photographs of French graveyards, restaurant menus and postcards are among the fascinating items included in the pages of writer Jane Urquhart's diary.

The diary, recently donated to the UW library, is now on display in the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room. The 258-page volume covers the period from 1974 to 1979 -- a time Urquhart describes as preceding her writing career. She is the winner of the 1997 Governor General's Award for her novel The Underpainter.

Susan Saunders Bellingham, head of the library's special collections, said the author's diary is of great interest to both students in literature and women's studies. It is also "a fine complement to the papers of Urquhart's husband, artist Tony Urquhart, which are already housed in the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room."

Jane Urquhart describes this diary -- which also served as a sketchbook, journal and trip diary -- as her "best one" in that it shows her collaborative work with her husband who is a UW fine arts professor.

The many sketches and drawings by Tony Urquhart make this diary not unlike his series of "idea books" which form one of the most important portions of his personal papers and archives, also housed in the room.

The complementary nature of her diary with her husband's series of idea books prompted Urquhart to feel that this particular volume was well-suited to be added to the existing research collections.

Urquhart also said it was important to her to have a portion of her original materials there because "without the UW Library I couldn't have written the books I have; I really feel at home there."

As part of the preservation process carried out on the diary under the auspices of the Ontario University Libraries Co-operative Preservation Program operated by McMaster University Library, preservation specialist John Winch separated the signatures from the deteriorated spine of the original, inserted protective tissue guards where needed to prevent damage to particularly fragile items that were pasted in, and carried out other conservation tasks required.

A separate case was made for the now-disbound original signatures and a preservation facsimile was made for the Urquhart family. The diary will be on display until the end of February.

"No Royal Road" features Euclid

Upstairs from the Rare Book Room, a main floor exhibit features "the most prominent mathematician of Greco-Roman antiquity," best known for his treatise in geometry, the Elements. Little is known of Euclid's life except that he taught and founded a school at Alexandria in the time of Ptolemy who reigned from 323 to 285-283 B. C.

The title for this display -- No Royal Road: Early editions of Euclid's Elements of Geometry -- comes from a story told about Euclid in the fifth century. When asked by Ptolemy whether there was any "shorter way" to learn geometry other than by studying the Elements, Euclid is said to have replied, "There is no royal road to geometry."

Indeed, many students in the following centuries have found both geometry and the Elements a challenge. This display features some of the methods used to try to make understanding that subject easier. They include "stand-up" diagrams in a sixteenth and later an eighteenth century edition; the ingenious use of colour printing to distinguish and describe the theorems in the nineteenth century, and wide "fold-out" charts designed to be used in conjunction with sections of the text. Euclid himself was described as a "first-class teacher" of mathematics, inasmuch as his textbook has remained in use practically unchanged for more than 2,000 years.

Also included in the display, which runs until March 1, are many other early and important editions of the Elements beginning with the earliest in the UW collection, one printed in 1505 and including examples of Ontario school text books from the twentieth century. It is sometimes said that, next to the Bible, Euclid may be the most translated, published and studied of all books produced in the Western world.

Teens, speed bumps, free pizza, etc.

"Adults and Teenagers: Searching for Common Ground" is the subject of a UW Employee Assistance Program brown bag lunch today at noon in Davis Centre room 1302. According to speaker, Dr. Peter Naus of Beechwood Place Counselling Centre, "...We should focus more on our similarities than our differences" with teens, "...and recognize that much of the troublesome behaviour of teenagers is a representation of the troublesome treatment they receive from adults." All UW employees are welcome to attend.

Among the agenda items for today's joint health and safety committee meeting: smoking areas, speed bumps, student injuries, and the cryptic notation, "Pigeons Plant Operations". The meeting starts at 12:30 p.m. in Needles Hall room 3001.

Career development seminars continue for new co-op students from 1:30 to 3:30 in EL 101. Topics are work report writing and interview skills: an overview. Hewitt Assoc. LLC will be featured at an employer information session today from 5 to 7 p.m. at the University Club. Graduating math students in business or computer science are welcome.

"Why Catholic Education? An Outsider Ponders the Uniqueness of the Catholic Tradition," is the title of a lecture by religion and culture professor Peter Erb, of Wilfrid Laurier University. Presented by St. Jerome's Centre for Catholic Experience, the lecture will be held at 4 p.m. in Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University. For more information, contact centre director David Seljak at 884-8111, ext. 232.

Students Advising Co-op (SAC) meets today at 4:30 p.m. in the Student Life Centre multipurpose room to discuss web site development, co-op student handbook creation, publicity, WatPubs, frosh issues, advice for co-op, and the future of SAC. There's free pizza, too.

Barbara Elve
bmelve@uwaterloo.ca


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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