Guest writer tells the rest of the story of JSTOR and about its dark past

By Guest Columnist

February 13, 2007

By Luke Herrington In last week’s issue, Margaret Slayton wrote an informative article on the research database: J-STOR. However, some information was lacking, and I would like to bring to light, the series of events that took place in order for this program to be available. Many members of the faculty have lobbied the Library for years, hoping their efforts would result in the purchase of J-STOR. Our professors recognized the program’s value and realized it would be a valuable asset. The faculty had all but given up though, believing their uphill battle was in vain. Their hopes were rejuvenated last year when the Student Government Association weighed in on the issue. Library Director Julia Schneider and Electronic Services Librarian Darrin Daugherty were invited to a Student Senate meeting, to discuss the potential for Western’s library to attain JSTOR. The guests made it seem as if J-STOR was only used by doctoral students. After giving the students attending the meeting a barrage of excuses, they left the Senate as if they simply had no intention of purchasing the system. The SGA was alarmed to uncover data showing that MWSU was one of the only schools in the state without JSTOR. It was even discovered that some high schools had the amazing resource. The Senate’s Academic Affairs Committee started a petition drive at the end of last year, but fell short of five hundred students by only thirty signatures. It seemed that the supporters of J-STOR were dealt yet another defeat, when Professor Jonathan Euchner met with Director Schneider on behalf of the Department of Government, Social Work, and Sociology. Dr. Euchner informed members of SGA that he and his colleagues were giving up, as it seemed the Library had no intention of getting the program. The SGA and some pessimistic faculty members however, still had hope. Despite the defeats, and excuses, SGA continued to lobby the Library. It seemed the efforts paid off last semester when a trial edition was started. However, something shady seemed afoot after the Library acquired the trial. No one knew it was there. In fact, it was only when an e-mail from the SGA sent to further research the  J-STOR issue, caused the library to inform the SGA Executive Board about the trial. A few mass emails were sent out to faculty and students, to prevent the program from being cancelled because its trial never had enough usage. J-STOR being an important asset brings journal articles up automatically in PDF format. For all practical purposes, when researching, there is no need to cite any website, because J-STOR is putting the real journal into the grasps of its users. This resource is a valuable addition to the Library. Students should not be misled though, to believe it was the hard work of the Library staff that resulted in the purchase of the program. It took the hard work of a few determined faculty members and students to make it through J-STOR’s darker past.