Scientific American Magazine, the library's most widely-read publication, is under fire.

The magazine recently announced that it will be raising its prices from $39.95 to $299 for an annual print subscription and from $1,000 to $1,500 for annual online access in 2010.

This increase is part of a larger trend that is being met with formal protest from many college libraries, including Hawthorne-Longfellow Library (H-L Library).

"The library community perceived that it was so clearly related to greed and there was no prior notice. There was no notice at all," said Librarian Sherrie Bergman.

Despite attempts to contact Scientific American, they declined to comment on their reason for increasing the cost of subscriptions.

Scientific American is a magazine, rather than a peer-reviewed journal. It synthesizes scientific discoveries and explains them in a way that is aimed at an educated, yet inexpert audience.

The Magazine's relatively informal yet informative articles make it one of Bowdoin professors' favorite publications to assign to students.

"The one title that is read more than any other is Scientific American," said Bergman.

While other publications have also raised their costs, Bergman said Scientific American's price hike was "the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back."

In response to the price increase, Bergman was one of 50 library directors to sign a recent letter addressed to the Scientific American's parent company, Nature Publishing Group.

The letter, which was sent in October, was organized by the Oberlin Library Group, an organization of college libraries dedicated to the Open Access Movement. The movement was established in order to protest the high price of modern scientific journals.

"The point was to issue a voice of protest," said Bergman.

As part of this movement, the H-L Library recently took part in "International Open Access Week," between October 19 and 23, described by Science Librarian Sue O'Dell as "a growing international movement that encourages the unrestricted sharing of research results over the internet with everyone, everywhere."

While both O'Dell and Bergman were quick to add that they were aware of the costs associated with the production of such a journal, they stated that their goal is to pressure publishers to lower prices to more reasonable levels.

"This movement would not have started if journals were fairly priced," said Bergman.

While Scientific American is not expensive when compared to some other journals that the library subscribes to, which, according to Bergman, can cost between five to fifteen thousand dollars a year, the increase in Scientific American's prices feels like a betrayal.

For Bergman, the timing of the change in cost contributed to this sentiment: the announcement of the increased prices in Scientific American prices came only weeks after Nature Publishing Group bought the company.

"Their price increase was so clearly related to their company being sold...and there was no added value that the libraries were going to receive," said Bergman.

The increase in price was also unexpected because Scientific American did not take the usual course of announcing the possibility of raising its costs at an earlier date.

Instead, the magazine only stated that it would be making the change when it had already been finalized.

The change was announced just as H-L Library was compiling its annual budget, and while Bergman says that the price increase will not lead to any real changes in the library's proposed budget, many college libraries have been forced to end their subscription to the popular magazine.

Annually, the Bowdoin library spends $1,039,447 for periodicals, including Scientific American.

The complaints of those frustrated with the high prices of scientific journals have recently found voice in the United States Senate, where Connecticut Senators Joseph Lieberman and Texas Senator John Cornyn introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act in June.

If passed, the act would mandate that pre-reviewed drafts of all studies funded by Federal money be made available at no cost to the public.