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Collection Management Policy: Digital Resources

Adopted May 1998

Scope & Definitions

  1. Within the general collection criteria , this section addresses the selection for acquisition or access and maintenance of (in order of importance):

    1. Textual data files (e.g., electronic texts)
    2. Bibliographic data files (e.g., indexes, which may or may not include fulltext)
    3. Numeric data files (e.g., statistics)
    4. Multimedia or graphic or audio data files
    5. Courseware or instructional data files

    Note: Where possible, LR&TS will enter into consortial cooperative acquisitions programs negotiated by MINITEX (e.g., Britannica, IAC Searchbank) where such resources fulfill the selection criteria discussed below.

  2. Acquisition or access may be supported for the following formats (in order of importance):

    1. Resources delivered (local) or accessible (remote) to authenticated users using TCP/IP protocols (e.g., HTML, SGML, or PDF formatted resources accessible using a standard HTTP browser from any platform)

      The availability of Internet access intensifies the dilemma faced by collection management. Internet services provide a large, uncontrolled and relatively unregulated collection of information resources. Although a librarian may not be familiar with all the resources in the collection, they can be confident they were acquired in accordance with an acquisition/selection policy that warrants some criteria was used in the selection process. This policy addresses those Internet resources which require payment for access.

    2. CD-ROM or disk or tape-based resources whose access may be:

      1. distributed over the Internet (e.g., ERL server) to authenticated users, but restricted by number of licensed simultaneous users and/or legal copies of any required application software. Resource may be uploaded to Web-accessible server (e.g., for disk-based data files) if there is sufficient storage.
      2. distributed over local area network, either within the library or across campus, but restricted by number of licensed simultaneous users (online) and/or legal copies of any required application software. Resource may be uploaded to fileserver (e.g., for disk-based data files) if there is sufficient storage.
      3. undistributed, due to limited use, incompatible operating system, proprietary application software; may be mounted at patron request or circulated for patron use at another location.
    3. This policy does not cover the acquisition of general purpose applications software such as authoring programs, gateway programs, productivity programs (e.g., spreadsheet, word processings, graphics), management programs, etc., that are purchased primarily for faculty or staff use in LR&TS or any other department, even with departmental library allocations.


  1. The primary criteria used to determine the appropriateness of adding a digital resources to LR&TS collections will not differ substantially from those used for books or any other format.
  2. In addition to the primary selection criteria used for all resources regardless of format, acquisition of or access to digital resources should be guided by demand or potential audience for the resource and ability to integrate the resource into library service programs and/or "virtual" instruction programs.
  3. The user assistance (including points of patron services such as reference, government publications, and periodicals) required to support a resource should be an early consideration in the selection decision. Aspects to consider include:
    1. Training (both faculty/staff and patrons)
    2. Necessity for, availability of, or ease of production of guides, manuals, or tutorials.
  4. Criteria specific to digital resources should be considered (in no specific order):
    1. The resource provides value added enhancements to an equivalent version in another format that make it preferable over or a significant enhancement of print or non-print equivalents; the enhancements should be significant enough to justify its selection in digital format (which may entail additional costs over other formats). Such enhancements may include:
      1. access and availability not dependent on time or location
      2. greater functionality (through improved searchability or ease of use)
      3. more extensive content
      4. ease of replacement or preservation
      Digital resources should not cost more than equivalents in other formats unless there are value added enhancements.
    2. The resource data formats must meet industry accepted standards and be fully documented. Data should be platform independent and available in a multiplicity of formats (e.g., ASCII, HTML, SGML, PDF, etc.). The resource should be networkable.
    3. The resource is updated to maintain currency of time sensitive information (should exceed print counterparts)
    4. Vendor reliability in resource content, business practices, accessibility, customer support during normal working hours. Selection decisions should not be compromised by vendor defined linkages between print and digital resources.
    5. The resource is "user friendly" as determined by:
      1. Easily accessible and understood menus, prompts, and search screens.
      2. Easily accessible and understood online tutorial and/or context or function specific help
      3. Novice and expert search levels
      4. Easy downloading and/or printing.
    6. Trial period is available to preview/examine the use and value of the resource prior to purchase decision. No preview should be arranged if there is little or no likelihood of purchase due to cost or marginal use.
    7. Licensing should permit fair use of all information for non-commercial educational, instructional, and research purposes by authorized users (faculty, staff, students, and all on-site users of University facilities), including unlimited viewing, downloading, and printing.
      1. Licensing should include permanent rights to access information for which a fee has been paid. This would include access for the entire period of a subscription regardless of subsequent cancellation by LR&TS or removal or cessation by the vendor. Because most electronic subscriptions are maintained through group contracts negotiated by MINITEX , LR&TS also works to support contract negotiation with vendors that provides such permanent access rights.
      2. The Digital Resources subcommittee will recommend to the Collection Management Group an appropriate level of license (simultaneous users) based on projected/anticipated volume of use. Access should encompass all campus IPs, including proxy server access for authenticated users.
      3. LR&TS may negotiate acquisition "partnerships" (cost splitting) for digital resources that fulfill the information needs of a particular department or college. Such resources must be integrated into a department or college's curriculum and may be linked to from course pages, departmental pages, and LR&TS pages as appropriate. This cost sharing must be ongoing for the life of the subscription.
    8. Vendors should be able to provide access control that does not impose upon individual users (i.e., resources should not require individual passwords or userids beyond that required by the university's authentication infrastructure).
      1. SCSU usage data should be provided by the vendor as part of contractual provisions for the license.
      2. Vendors must assure the full confidentiality of individual users and their searches as part of the contract.
  5. Any recommendation or request for a digital resource will be reviewed by the Digital Resources subcommittee.
    1. The selection review will follow the criteria outlined in this document. In addition, a review may be referred to the appropriate group within LR&TS (e.g., Serials, Reference, Government Publications, etc.) for further information.
    2. A cost/benefit analysis or review of budgetary impact may be necessary prior to a recommendation to acquire. In instances of digital-for-print replacement, any additional costs must be justified by value added enhancements or content expansions.
    3. Technical requirements will be reviewed by Technical Support. In instances of multiple digital formats (e.g., Internet or CD-ROM), TSS will recommend the best solution to maximize access under the license.
  6. A digital resource should cost no more than its print counterpart, unless there are value added enhancements that warrant the cost. Where a digital resource replaces a print resource (e.g., a digital index with or without fulltext), the funds should be reallocated to the digital. New resources should be reviewed for budget impact. The sum of expenditures for digital resources should be no more than 30% of the total acquisition budget (serials and books/nonprint).

Implementation and Maintenance Responsibilities

  1. All digital resources from a reputable publisher and for which LR&TS pays subscription fees acquired under this selection policy will be integrated into library holdings through appropriate cataloging.
    1. Resources available through the hypertext transfer protocol (Web) or successor protocols will be linked from the online catalog using the appropriate URL and MARC field (e.g., 856). Such resources (primarily those which are freely available on the Web) will be added to the catalog based on the following criteria:
      1. The resource provides authoritative factual or original content information (e.g., the electronic equivalents of research papers, books, reference tools, and creative works), not simply a directory of links to other sites. The content must be easily attributable to an author, editor, or reputable publisher. Anonymous, unsigned, or unattributed information is suspect and should not be cataloged.
      2. The resource demonstrates consistency (frequently updated if necessary) and persistence (some assurance that the URL is stable).
      3. A determination of interest may precede cataloging. This can be accomplished by linking from an LR&TS Web page for a period of time in order to determine community interest and assess site persistance and stability.
      4. Any additional digital resources, particularly those available over the Web (or its successor protocols) may be linked from LR&TS Web guides and directories as determined by the author of the guide.
    2. Resources available online through library-wide or campus-wide local area networks identified in the online catalog.
    3. Offline resources available for use identified in the online catalog. CD-ROM resources will be shelved within their appropriate collection:
      1. Periodical CD-ROMs will be added to the periodical collection for circulation; patrons will be allowed to use them on stations within the building or elsewhere (on campus or at home).
      2. CD-ROMs included in circulating books will be cataloged to the Circulating Collection rather than to Distribution. Acquisitions will provide proper packaging and labelling to draw attention to multiple contents for circulation (checkout and checkin) purposes.
      3. Reference CD-ROMs will be cataloged to and circulated from Reference. CD-ROMs will remain in original packaging within books where possible and will be integrated into the print collection rather than a stand-alone collection.
      4. Monographs on CD-ROM will be integrated into the Circulating Collection. Acquisitions will provide appropriate packaging and labelling to draw attention to multiple contents for circulation (checkout and checkin) purposes.
  2. Part of the review process may be a reassessment of available hardware and software and a recommendation to the Dean's Advisory Council as part of the normal equipment purchase process. Resources should not be acquired without appropriate means of providing access.
  3. LR&TS will comply with all aspects of copyright law with respect to digital resources and will work with campus policy makers to promote copyright compliance among all users.


  1. International Coalition of Library Consortia. (1998) Statement of Current Perspective and Preferred Practices for the Selection and Purchase of Electronic Information. Available at http://www.library.yale.edu/consortia/statement.html
  2. National Humanities Alliance Committee on Libraries and Intellectual Property. (1996) Basic Principles for Managing Intellectual Property in the Digital Environment. Available at http://www-ninch.cni.org/issues/copyright/principles/nha_Complete.html
  3. Principles for Licensing Electronic Resources. (July 1997) Issued jointly by the American Association of Law Libraries, the American Library Association, the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, the Medical Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association. Available at http://www.arl.org/scomm/licensing/principles.html
  4. Task Force on the CIC Electronic Collection. Assumptions & Guiding Principles for Near-Term Initiatives. Available at http://NTX2.cso.uiuc.edu/cic/cli/licguide.html
  5. Pew Higher Education Roundtable (Philadelphia, PA: Institute for Research on Higher Education). (March 1998) "To Publish or Perish." Policy Perspectives , 7(4):1-12. Available at http://www.irhe.upenn.edu/pp/pp-main.html.
  6. University of California Libraries Collection Development Committee. (May 1996) Principles for Acquiring and Licensing Information in Digital Formats. Available at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Info/principles.html
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