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UTT can’t find $2M to renew library database

Published: 
Sunday, February 11, 2018

As the already troubled financial situation at the University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT) deepens, the university is now unable to get $2 million to renew its library databases and e-journals.

This new development raises further concerns by UTT’s staff who claim that it can interfere with the university’s accreditation and also hamper research opportunities for them and students.

In a letter to UTT staff dated January 22, 2018, Chief University Librarian, Martha Preddie, informed that the university has lost access to the Science Direct database and added that they have not been able to renew the Naxos Digital Library.

Staffers were advised that they should continuously back up all of the references, search results and documents emanating from their usage of all electronic library resources, “so that you would have retained them, should we lose access to a database or e-journal at any point in time. This advertisement also applies to references saved in RefWorks. At this point we are operating via the goodwill of our vendors, most of whom have continued to give us uninterrupted access to resources, notwithstanding their not receiving payment, or any guarantee that they will be paid”.

Library management, sources said, is currently engaged in a process of determining the database and journal subscriptions that will be cancelled in order to reduce costs. On completion of this process, the UTT community will be informed of those that will be discontinued.

Speaking with the Sunday Guardian, UTT staffers, who did not want to be identified, said “the e-journals are databases of research material for students to go on and read and do research…some of it would allow us to save things and retrieve them later on. RefWorks is a software for us to use to import our references and it builds or reference list one time for us.

“If we get interrupted in the databases then we can lose all that we saved, which can hinder our research…triple down effect is that it will affect our accreditation because all of these are required by the Accreditation Council of T&T…our libraries and what we have in our libraries.”

Prof Imbert: I don't think accreditation will be affected

However, Deputy UTT Chairman Prof Clement Imbert told the Sunday Guardian that he does not think the university’s accreditation will be affected in any way. He said there are alternatives which can be used and assured that efforts will be made to provide the same service but “not as lavishly as before”.

On November 1, 2017, UTT’s Chairman of the Board of Governors Prof Kenneth Julien announced that UTT will not be able to continue operations beyond January 2018.

He also noted that effective November 10, there was expected to be significant job cuts at the managerial and academic levels. Julien said this was a result of severe financial constraints over the past year.

Julien further explained that the challenges worsened with the further 11 per cent decrease in UTT's 2017/2018 recurrent allocation to $200 million (TT).

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