Electronic Resources


The following policy statement on electronic media reflects our desire to build collections and improve access to materials through a comprehensive and current collection development policy. It is intended to elaborate on newer technologies which the library is currently using or will use in the future. In keeping with the library’s overall collection development policy, material will be collected or accessed based on its intrinsic merit and relevance to the instructional programs, regardless of format.


An electronic resource is defined as any resource which requires computer access. Electronic resources may be located either on-site or off-site. Electronic resources include, but are not limited to, citation or full-text information, software and multimedia programs.

On-site means the items (computer discs, tapes, programs, databases, etc.) are housed somewhere on campus, usually in the library but possibly at another campus location. These items may be available at many different campus locations (e.g., computer labs, forms, classrooms) via the network. In some cases, “on-site” items may even be available to users off campus who dial into the campus network. On-site refers to an item’s location, not necessarily its availability.

Off-site means that access is provided, usually over telephone lines, to data (programs, databases, etc.) that is physically located at a distance from the campus. Examples of off-site databases are FirstSearch, Expanded Academic ASAP, or CARL Uncover.

There are several kinds of online databases. Citation databases provide citations to sources of information (books, journal articles, government documents, etc.) rather than the actual text or information. Full-text databases, which are usually a combination of citations and full-text, include complete articles, reports, documents, graphics and any other resources which provide actual text and information.


Resources which provide unique access to information at the appropriate subject, content and cost levels for our users, and reference tools, such as abstracting and indexing services, that provide access to current and retrospective citations and full-text databases, will receive the highest priority for subscription, purchase, delivery, and access.

Whether serial or monographic in nature, acquisition of electronic resources must conform to overall collection development policy. The most important priorities are: a) to support and supplement the curriculum; b) to build support for anticipated instructional needs; c) to give limited support to faculty research. Other collection needs can be considered once the above priorities have been satisfied.

The library retains ownership of all materials purchased with library funds. Although computer technology and electronic media are evolving at a quick pace, the library will endeavor to invest in hardware and software for electronic resources which are enduring and not transient in nature. Impact on staff for maintenance, support, and training of new resources will be considered.

Selection Criteria

Resources will be acquired with the intent of supporting the curriculum. New products which enhance awareness or accessibility of the library’s current holdings of journals, books, an other resources will be given priority.

Librarians, in conjunction with the Systems Librarian, will determine the most appropriate location and circulation or access policies for resources housed in the library, such as software, CD-ROMs, etc.

General Considerations

  • Comprehensive abstracts and indexes have prior consideration to individual specialized reference areas.
  • Full-text databases will be given priority consideration.
  • WWW interface will be preferred to CD-ROM where available.
  • User/need demand
  • Cost
  • Storage advantages
  • Recurring fees to be paid to the supplier/vendor
  • Uniqueness, of content, capabilities or features
  • Subject relevance
  • Currency/frequency of updates
  • Accuracy, authoritativeness, and completeness of database
  • Interdisciplinary applications
  • Ease of access, use, and instruction

Product Considerations

  • Offers added value over other formats
  • Compares favorably with print and other electronic products
  • Could an existing print subscription be canceled if this source were acquired?
  • Does usage of the print format merit an additional access point?
  • What is the coverage and scope of the information?
  • How frequently is the product updated?
  • Is the product capable of being accessed by simultaneous users?
  • Is the product available through another library?
  • Is the format the only one available for the product?
  • Is it the most cost effective/user-friendly/accessible?
  • Downloading and e-mailing are possible and easily performed
  • Availability of archival copies and replacements
  • Availability of user manuals and other documentation

Vendor/Contract Considerations

  • Is a demonstration disk or trial account available?
  • Has the vendor demonstrated reliability, good performance, and production of high quality products with clear documentation?
  • Are software enhancements included in the purchase or lease price?
  • Is maintenance for hardware included in the purchase or lease price?
  • Is there an easily accessible toll-free customer service?
  • Availability of support services by vendor
  • Has the vendor produced other relevant databases?
  • Does the contract require restrictions such as:
    • An obligation to return superseded disks
    • Guarantee of limited access
    • Restrictions on downloading
    • Definitions of users and/or uses of the information
    • Liability from patron use of information
    • Restriction on duplication of the documentation accompanying the product

System and Hardware Considerations

  • Is the hardware which is required currently available in the library?
  • Are the storage and memory of currently available equipment sufficient?
  • How does purchasing the hardware from the vendor affect the pricing of the subscription?
  • If the vendor supplies customized hardware, does it provide significant enhancement of the use of the product that could not be achieved with existing library hardware?
  • Does the vendor agreement require review by the university legal counsel prior to purchase?
  • Technical support: is adequate expertise available in the library or on campus to support use of the product?
  • Ability to network
  • Reasonable storage and maintenance costs
  • Ease of installation and maintenance

Cost Analysis


  • One-time or initial subscription costs
  • Annual subscriptions
  • Costs to obtain backrun
  • Equipment acquisition and maintenance
  • Staff time costs to configure and maintain products
  • Training costs

Print Equivalent

  • One-time cost or annual subscription costs
  • Replacement costs
  • Binding, storage, preservation costs

Online Equivalent

  • One-time system fee or annual system subscription fees
  • Database charges
  • Equipment acquisition and maintenance costs
  • Documentation costs
  • Training costs (fees and staff time)


  • Facilities: is additional hardware, wiring, furniture, etc. required?
  • Location of product/space: will reconfiguration of space be required?
  • Training: what are the requirements for staff and users?