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Academic Pass opens NY Times access to community

U. will experiment with the service for a year and analyze student use based on data from the Times

Brown students, faculty members and staff members are eligible for a free one-year New York Times Academic Pass, the library announced Sept. 16.

This pass allows account holders unrestricted online access to all Times articles dating back to 1986 and access to five articles dated between 1923 and 1986 per 24 hour period, said David Banush, associate University librarian for access services and collection management.

The experimental pass will expire at the end of next September, Banush said. The Times will provide user data for the library to determine if the service is a worthwhile investment, Banush said. “As long as we can afford it, I hope we can keep doing it,” he said.

Currently, the Office of the Provost and the library are splitting the cost of the service.

“We find that things available electronically are more likely to be used,” Banush said.

But the library will keep the same volume of daily papers, Banush added.

The library has been waiting for an Academic Pass deal for two years, Banush said. When the Times launched its pay wall and online subscription services in March 2011, the University was denied a group subscription deal, he said. Instead, the University contracted with a company called Newsbank to offer same-day access to the Times online. But this service was short-lived, Banush said — the Times revoked its legal permission two days later.

Brown is “one of the early adapters,” Banush said.

Before this summer, the Times did not offer Academic Passes. Students could purchase discounted access, and individuals would have to pay for themselves or be restricted to the Times online policy of 10 free articles a month.

Banush said Emory University is the only other university he knows uses the service, he said, but he added that a representative from Yale recently called him to ask about it.

Members of the Brown community must use University email addresses to register online. Step-by-step directions for setting up an account are available on the library’s “New York Times at Brown” help website.

Upon creating an account, students, faculty members and staff members may access the Times online anywhere there is an internet connection, Banush said. There are some app restrictions depending on the device, but access on a mobile device through a web browser will work, he said.

Those who already have subscriptions must use their own until they expire, Banush said.

There are issues still being worked out with the new system.

When users follow the email link sent by the Times to claim their academic passes, the web page will falsely state that the pass is only valid for 24 hours, due to a glitch in the system. This “programming issue” will be resolved by the end of September, Banush said.

Access was initially intended to be offered to University community members starting Sept. 1, Banush said. But on Aug. 27, the Times website was hacked and crashed by the Syrian Electronic Army, causing the release of the Academic Pass to be pushed back and coders to change priorities, he said.

“We did a lot of testing” before announcing the service, Banush said. The library tested the service on different devices and in different locations before releasing it to the Brown community.

“There’s really nothing you can naysay about it,” said Ethan Blake ’17. “I am not able to read the newspaper in its entirety, so to compensate for that I have the New York Times as my computer homepage. Sweet deal.”

“I think people will love it,” Banush said. But, he added, “the crossword puzzles, unfortunately, only come in print.”


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