Electronic Resources (eResources) Policy

Scope

This policy applies to licensed online databases (e.g. bibliographic, statistical), digitized primary source collections, aggregated eBook and eJournal collections, streaming video collections, etc.  It does not pertain to individual eBooks, eJournals, videos, etc. or to application software.

eResources Overview & Context

As the nature of eResources is fundamentally different from that of books, eResource selection must be carefully considered and treated differently from book selection.   eResource packages are typically very expensive and therefore represent a significant financial commitment.

eResources Policy

The Smith College Libraries purchase or subscribe to eResouces to support the teaching, learning and research of the Smith community. Within the context of maximizing budget resources, the Libraries seek to provide a balanced portfolio of eResources that reflect the wide variety of campus needs and provide the greatest access to scholarship.

The Libraries’ Collection Development Working Group (CDWG)1 is responsible for making decisions for adding new eResources.   Any member of the Smith community may recommend to CDWG that a new eResource be acquired.  CDWG considers such requests at its monthly meetings and adds new titles that fit its selection criteria (below) and as the budget allows.

Selection Criteria

Some of the factors CDWG considers when vetting new eResources: 

  • Relevance to the curriculum—both existing courses and new directions
  • Relevance to faculty scholarship, with preference given to titles needed by more than one person
  • Needs of newly hired faculty, to support both new courses and their own scholarship
  • Whether Smith already collects at a high level in this subject area or whether the product offers content in a previously under-represented subject area or titles unavailable in another resource
  • Cost of the database/collection
  • Number and cost of other similar databases/collections in the field available at Smith
  • Whether the product offers valuable enhancements over the other versions (print, microform, etc.)
  • Whether the product offers perpetual access, post-cancellation rights to the content, or is archived in Portico
  • Appropriateness of the resource for self-directed use (Note: The Library does not usually purchase resources which are more appropriate to a closely supervised laboratory or classroom setting)

The Smith College Libraries will not always be able to meet all the needs of faculty members for their personal research through local collections, but aim to support their curricular needs whenever possible. 

In addition to the selection factors above, the Collection Development Working Group is also responsible for decisions relating to:
Selection of vendor/platform (if there is more than one option for the database/collection)

  • Access/hosting requirements; web access is preferred, versus a requirement for hosting on a stand-alone workstation or local network
  • Purchasing, loading, and maintaining MARC catalog records for purchased/subscribed eResources  (Note:  Decisions re: loading/maintaining records for free resources should be directed to the Director of Discovery and Access) 
  • Retention of print materials that duplicate these electronic materials (Note:  We typically avoid duplication in multiple formats, unless there is a compelling reason to retain multiple formats)

Finally, CDWG always looks at the following technical issues:

  • Is a campus-wide site license via IP address range available?  (vs. requiring a username/password)
  • Does the product work with our authentication software, EZproxy, so that remote access is possible?
  • Is the product designed for accessibility?  (e.g. read aloud option for eBook, closed captioning for videos, etc.)

Procedure for Requesting a New eResource

  1. Consider your request in light of the selection criteria above.
  2. Use the online Electronic Resources Order Form to request the new eResource.

The Libraries’ Collection Development Working Group (CDWG) will check for institutional pricing and will typically set up trial access to the product.  Faculty members are encouraged to provide feedback regarding content, relevance to the current collection, relevance to the curriculum, ease of use, etc.  CDWG will then review the trial feedback and the justification provided by the requester and make a decision in light of other current funding needs.  

Notes

  1. The Collection Development Working Group is chaired by the Head of Collection Development, and members include the Director of Teaching, Learning and Research, the Director for Discovery and Access, the Director of Special Collections, and other librarians representing different areas of expertise.

September 2015