Library Policies

Electronic Collections Development Policy

  1. Introduction

    In order to meet their primary mission of supporting the teaching and research needs of students and faculty through their collections and services, The University of Akron University Libraries are committed to utilizing technology to enhance educational quality and access to information. The following guidelines address issues that are unique to the Libraries’ of eResources. Publishers and vendors often treat electronic publications differently from materials in a physical format (such as books, CDs, DVDs, etc). Because technology and information access changes so rapidly it is expected that these guidelines will be under continuing review by the Libraries’ Collection Management Department.

  2. Definition and Scope

    In the context of these guidelines, an eResource is defined as a digital item that is searchable, able to be enhanced with cross-references, linked to other sources and multimedia, and that also may be accessed by multiple users over a network.

    The criteria set forth below will cover eResources acquisition

    • both within and outside consortial agreements
    • as single-item acquisitions and as bulk collections


  3. General Collection-Related Criteria

    1. Subject-Related Criteria

      eResources and eResource collections considered for acquisition by selectors should:

      1. follow current collection parameters already in place as represented by the currently approved “University of Akron University Libraries Collection Development Policy, particularly as these relate to each departmental discipline, covering categories of Scope and Purpose, Geographical Coverage, Language, Period Coverage and Publication Types. 
      2. represent materials for utilization and circulation from any branch of the campus and that are broadly accessible under the strictures of current copyright and licensing laws
      3. enhance and enrich current collections and academic needs of various disciplines. Such needs encompass, but are not limited to, the following:
        • resources exclusively available in electronic form
        • electronic duplicates of physical materials in heavy demand
        • resources that undergo frequent revision and must be kept current
        • materials that incorporate multi-media aspects or involve interactive text modification


    2. Technology – Related Criteria

      Selectors are referred to the technology criteria for collection of electronic resources that are outlined in “Part 1: Checklist for a Collection Policy Statement” made by the ALA RUSA CODES Collection Policy Committee (Fedunok, RQ 1996, pp86-87).

      Briefly, these criteria state that hardware and software to support library electronic collections should:

      • be expandable
      • be networkable
      • conform to standards
      • have adequate documentation
      • be provided with technical support


      In addition, software should match audience need and level of computer literacy

  4. Constraints

    1. Archiving – Whenever possible, appropriate eResources and eResource collections should be purchased with the right to maintain access in perpetuity
    2. Access and Usage – Accommodation of multiple users and access from remote sites should be a provision of eResource purchase agreements and licensing. To the fullest extent possible electronic materials will be purchased with full cataloging so they are completely, easily, and quickly integrated within the standard library catalog.
    3. Technical Support – Necessary hardware and technical support should be in place or acquired simultaneously with the purchase of eResource materials
    4. When considering purchase of electronic materials to replace existing print, bibliographer subject specialists will strive to insure that the electronic version accurately duplicates or exceeds the information available in the original.
    5. When purchasing electronic resources strong will be given to publishers willing to provide usage statistics.
  5. Caveats

    In considering acquisition of eResources and eResource collections selectors are advised to check agreements for the following provisions:

    1. Option to select single eResource titles from vendor packages
    2. Availability of eResources for general circulation or access and for interlibrary loan purposes (including copying)
    3. Provision of high standards in format and publication and adequate, user-friendly access
    4. Licensing access as broad as possible


  6. Format Specific Considerations

    1. Monographs
      1. Issues of currency, access and availability of eBook materials will, as a rule, determine the proportion of eBook resources that will be selected to support the research and curricular needs of each university department.
      2. Textbooks generally are excluded from purchase. Also excluded from purchase are electronic coursepacks, and “course bundles” that are predominantly anthologies of information.
      3. Selectors will participate in the selection of specific eBook titles from general collections that are purchased by the Library and from consortium-based arrangements.
      4. Whenever possible, selectors should place eBooks orders with preferred book suppliers such as GOBI who already have licensing arrangements with e-book providers.
    2. Serials
      1. Current – The University of Akron Libraries (UL) is moving towards replacement of paper serials with electronic publication. Guidelines for decision making have been developed to assist bibliographers in making the best decisions in this transition. These guidelines incorporate the unique nature of UL’s participation in the OhioLINK consortium and significant variations in options and pricing available from various publishers. Specific guidelines when considering conversion of print to eJournals are available from the GROP (Get Rid Of Paper) document (Appendix).
      2. Backfiles: Due to the current dynamic nature of publishing it is necessary to provide guidelines for purchase of backfiles rather than a static set of criteria. Each bibliographer will need to determine the value of adding backfiles to subject area based on collection policies. The following points are suggested to help guide these decisions:
        • availability of usage statistics
        • single title purchase option
        • bundled collections include significant number of titles relevant to the University of Akron
        • adequate number of simultaneous users
        • replacement of obsolete or difficult to use or preserve formats (e.g. microcards)
        • one time purchase, rather than ongoing annual use fee
        • perpetual access
        • possibilities for consortial purchase
    3. Databases

      These are any products offering organized collections of data accessible only by computer. These products may include full-text collections; electronic versions of standard reference sources; encyclopedias; periodical indexes, abstracts, and aggregators; business information services, etc.

      1. Acquisition options
        • If the product is relatively expensive or offers interdisciplinary value, the subject librarian will normally request that the Electronic Resources Librarian arrange a preview of the product. Eventual purchase of the database will be influenced by positive evaluations and/or recommendations from faculty, students, and librarians and must be approved by the Head of Collection Management.
        • If the database is relatively inexpensive, has a unique or specialized audience, or if funds are readily available, the preview process may be bypassed. In these cases, the librarian will submit requests directly to the Head of Collection Management for approval.
      2. Constraint
        Availability or anticipated availability through OhioLINK
      3. Considerations
        • Anticipated instructional or research use
        • If meant to replace a physical source, quantity and quality of source material intact
        • Ease of use
        • Allowing appropriate number of simultaneous user and points of access
        • Interdisciplinary value


    4. AV Materials – For either the addition of new materials or replacement of older formats, selectors must check with the Acquisitions Department that licensing agreements are in compliance with university policy and anticipated use for teaching and research.
  7. Other Considerations

    1. When considering either the addition of eResources to or the replacement of print materials by eResources within the reference collections of Bierce Library or of the Science and Technology Library, selectors should consult with the Bierce Library Reference Department Head or Science and Technology Library Head. Selectors should consider the following points in the acquisition of eResources for reference collections:
      • issues of access, such as numbers of simultaneous users, remote access, etc.
      • issues of currency and frequency of consultation
      • content issues such as searchability, completeness, and excellent quality of reproduction
      • both initial and anticipated increases in renewal costs
    2. Priority when ordering electronic resources will be given to electronic resources from vendors who provide access to usage statistics
    3. Free electronic resources are selected according to the UL Collection Development policies. Subject specialists may add these resources to their discipline-related web pages.

Submitted by the Task Force
= Diana Chlebek, Bonnie Chojnacki and Joe LaRose
October 20, 2008; last revised December 19, 2008


GROP (Get Rid of Print) PROJECT
Guidelines for Decision Making

March 13, 2008, Revised for eResource Policy October 6, 2008

  1. If we have PRINT subscription and ELECTRONIC is available – free
    1. Add ELECTRONIC if no current access and
    2. Keep both formats
    Print $100
    Electronic Free
  2. If we have PRINT subscription and ELECTRONIC subscription would cost the same as print
    1. Get ELECTRONIC only and
    2. Cancel PRINT
    Print $100
    Electronic $100
  3. If we have PRINT subscription and ELECTRONIC is more expensive than PRINT
      1. Cancel PRINT if ELECTRONIC is not greater than 50% more
    Head of Collections IF >50%
    Electronic $100
    Print $50
  4. If we have PRINT subscription and PRINT/ELECTRONIC combo would cost 50% additional or less
      1. Keep PRINT and add ELECTRONIC
    Head of Collections IF >50%
    Print is $377
    Print & Electronic combined $396
  5. If PRINT is more expensive than ELECTRONIC
    1. Keep ELECTRONIC only
    2. No matter what the price is
    Print $200
    Electronic $100
  6. If we have ELECTRONIC subscription and holdings are duplicated in EJC
    1. With identical coverage dates or EJC coverage is better (both back files and current)
    2. Cancel UA ELECTRONIC subscription
  7. If we have PRINT subscription and holdings are duplicated in EJC
    1. With identical coverage dates or EJC coverage is better
    2. Cancel UA print subscription
  8. If we have ELECTRONIC subscription and also holdings in EJC (e.g. including JStor)
    1. And EJC coverage is less (both back files and current) than UA
    2. Do not cancel order
  9. If we are paying Swets for ELECTRONIC/PRINT (only combo available) but have not requested ELECTRONIC access
    1. License and request access for UA
    2. No order change necessary with Swets