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Allen Memorial Library Policies and Procedures Manual: Electronic Resources Collection Development

a collection of all policies and procedures for the VCSU Allen Memorial Library


The Library collects electronic resources to support the Valley City State University community in their instructional and research endeavors.
Electronic resources are defined as resources that require electronic access. These include, but are not limited to:
  • electronic journals or journal collections;
  • electronic reference materials;
  • electronic books or book collections; and
  • streaming audio or video services.

Selection Responsibilities

As part of the North Dakota State Library group (NDSL), the Online Dakota Information Networks (ODIN) consortium, and the tri-state MINITEX consortium, Allen Memorial Library cooperates in the provision and management of a statewide shared electronic collections. Additionally, the Library may participate in consortial purchases with other college and university libraries where appropriate.
Selection, deselection and acquisition responsibilities lie with the professional library staff. Suggestions for acquisition from faculty and staff are encouraged and considered. Journal subscription requests are reviewed by the professional staff with input from the Director.

Faculty, students and staff may recommend particular electronic resources be added to the collection by submitting a Suggestion for Purchase. Product trials are made available to faculty and staff on a regular basis, and feedback is solicited.

Cancellation of Electronic Resources

Cancellation typically means non-renewal. It is usually impossible for the Library to recover any money by ending a subscription early. In some cases, access points to a resource may be removed before the end of a subscription, resulting in an effective "cancellation" from the public perspective.
A decision on cancellation must be made in advance of the renewal date, preferably no later than 1 month before renewal. This will ensure that all communications can be handled properly, both with library staff and with product vendors. Public announcement of the cancellation will normally take place one month before access to the resource ceases.
A title will be identified as a candidate for cancellation by the librarian responsible for electronic resources using a variety of methods, including the following:
  • Review of comparative usage statistics showing low use or poor ROI
  • When subject area duplication is discovered
  • A change in pricing or library budget
  • If the resource is no longer needed to support the VCSU curriculum
  • When access issues are reoccurring
While candidates will often be identified during reviews prior to renewal time, any librarian may suggest a title for cancellation. Such suggestions should be emailed to the Director of Library Services.
In order to make an informed decision on cancellation, the librarian should assemble the following information:
  • Expiry date of current subscription
  • Prospective and past costs
  • Usage statistics with analysis (ROI; cost per full-text retrieval, cost per access, etc.); a minimum of 3 years of usage should be reviewed if possible
  • Brief description of resource
  • Subject coverage of resource
  • Previous relevant information/notes in the electronic resource management system (Coral)
Once a title has been identified for possible nonrenewal, input should be sought from other librarians and from the faculty affected by the potential change.  A summary of the information will be provided, showing why the resource has been identified for potential non-renewal, and faculty will be given the opportunity to comment.
After input has been sought from faculty and other librarians, all information gathered should be presented to the Director of Library Services, who will make the final determination on cancellation in consultation with the professional library staff.  The Director will then communicate this information to the campus. Reasons for the decision will be provided and will include the date when access will cease.
Librarians will also be responsible for removing the resource from pathfinders and course guides, and providing information on potential alternative resources. 

Resource Accessibility

For complete data on accessibility of electronic resources, see the Accessibility @AML LibGuide. 

Selection Criteria

Electronic resources should be relevant and appropriate to a significant segment of the Library’s users, meet current academic and research needs, and support the University’s mission. Electronic resources considered for addition to the collection should fall within current guidelines as reflected in the Allen Memorial Library Collection Development Policy and other appropriate guidelines. 
Duplication of the print and electronic versions of a resource are generally discouraged but will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The Library prefers to acquire materials in electronic format if available and deemed appropriate to provide improved access to all on and off campuses or to enhance the Libraries’ current collections. Electronic access is the preferred format for serials when available.
Traditional selection criteria for library materials apply to electronic resources; however, due to their unique nature, special criteria need also be applied. These include:
  • Cost, including any hidden costs, and whether the cost is for a one-time purchase (which may include annual access fees), or a subscription.
  • Technical considerations:
    • Access by IP recognition, including remote access;
    • No requirements for additional or special hardware or software, other than what is freely available and widely used;
    • Compatibility across different platforms (PC, Mac, etc.) and browsers.
    • Compatibility with open URL link resolvers, federated searching, or Web-scale discovery services currently utilized by the Libraries.
    • Compatibility with course management software.
  • Full-text availability
  • Usability and user-friendliness
  • Currency and frequency of updates
  • Vendor reliability
  • Availability of COUNTER-compliant usage data
  • Acceptable license terms
  • Digital accessibility policies which enable our library to comply with the VCSU accessibility policy and ALA's Library Services for People with Disabilities Policy statement, found at

Assessment of Electronic Resources

Electronic resources such as databases, e-book collections, streaming audio and video services, and online journals, are a significant component of the library collection.  These resources must be carefully evaluated to ensure that the VCSU community is receiving the best and most cost-effective resources available.  This requires a careful and considered evaluation of online resources, which may ultimately lead to the nonrenewal of an electronic resources subscription.  The following policy is intended to guide the evaluation of electronic resources to ensure the best use of the funds available.
This policy applies to only those resources subscribed to directly by the university library. Consortial subscriptions or those provided by the state undergo a different analysis and often the decision to continue or nonrenew is out of the university library’s control.
Assessment of electronic resources is primarily obtained through COUNTER-compliant usage statistics.  These statistics are compiled and analyzed to determine the continued viability and cost-effectiveness of the electronic resources currently purchased, and to determine any areas of weakness and need. 


The Director of Library Services will negotiate the best possible license with each vendor. Each resource may have differing terms and not all preferences may be met. In general, the vendor should provide a standard agreement that describes the terms of the license in easy-to-understand and explicit language. Licenses should include, but are not limited to:
  • Broad definitions of authorized users including faculty, students, staff, and walk-in users.
  • Broad definitions of authorized sites with permission to access from anywhere via the University's network, including remotely via EZproxy authentication.
  • Fair use permission of all information for non-commercial, educational, instructional, and research purposes by authorized users. Other uses permitted under fair use should include ILL, e-reserves, course packs, and virtual reference.
  • Pricing model, service fees, and any price caps applicable to multi-year licenses.
  • An early termination clause for multi-year licenses.
  • Realistic expectations concerning the Libraries' ability to monitor and detect abuse.
  • Provision of perpetual access to the subscribed years.
  • Provision for some type of archival copy of the material.
  • Warranties that the licensor has the right and authority to license the material.
  • Duration of the license and whether automatic renewal is assumed.
  • Termination not be required in writing or more than 30 days in advance of the renewal date.
  • A continuous service and scheduled down-time clause.
  • Guaranteed anonymity of the users and confidentiality of their information.
  • Dispute resolution arrangements.

Reviewed January 2023