April 11, 2011

New York Times Paywall Raises Questions for University Libraries

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Cornell officials are looking into obtaining an institutional subscription to The New York Times website after The Times implemented a paywall on March 28.

“The unknown at this point is whether our institutional print subscriptions entitle the library to receive a limited number of digital subscriptions,” said John Saylor, associate university librarian for scholarly resources and special collections. “The Times has not yet answered our questions about institutional digital access for our print subscriptions.”

Kevin J. Cappallo, director of education sales for The Times, said that although no institutional subscriptions currently exist, they “are planning to offer this in the future.”

Under The Times’ new policies, non-subscribers are limited to 20 free articles per month. Cornell students who want to read The Times digitally beyond 20 articles per month will have to go through one of three library databases: Access World News, Factiva Newsstand and LexisNexis Academic, Saylor said.

Students can currently obtain print copies of The Times and USA Today in boxes around campus through the Collegiate Readership Program.

Adam Raveret ‘12, student liaison with the CRP, said that the decision could trigger an increase in demand for the print editions provided by the CRP, which the University funds through the student activity fee.

“If there is an increase in demand, there probably will be an increase in the S.A. fee to pay for it,” Raveret said.

Robin Irwin, who works on the Collegiate Readership Program for USA Today, said the CRP service was not affected by The Times’ decision to implement a paywall.

“The print program will function the same as it has in the past with convenient access across campus to build a stronger news consumption habit among the general student population,” Irwin said.

Raveret added that, although students will be able to use CRP, he feels The Times’ pay-wall may limit students’ access to The Times.

“I’m always saddened by any restrictions on the spread of knowledge and information, but at the end of the day The New York Times is a business,” Raveret said.

Original Author: Christa Nianiatus