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Guidelines for Selection of Electronic Publications


For the purposes of these guidelines, electronic publication refers to a full-text work that:

  • is recorded, stored and transferred digitally, but made accessible or available to the reader in analog form, usually through either disk-based or networked computing
  • is designed to be read or interpreted in a manner similar to a printed or written work
  • in contrast to an electronic abstract or index, includes the main body or the original words of a text (as opposed to a paraphrase, description, condensation, or other representation)
  • can be purchased, selected or acquired as a self-contained work and not only as part of a larger collection or database.

These guidelines are also appropriate for collections of such publications.

Purpose of the Guidelines

This document provides guidelines for the selection, deselection, review and approval of electronic publications. The guidelines supplement the Collection Development Policy Statement: Electronic Resources, general guidelines developed for all electronic resources. If appropriate, selectors should also consult the appendices for considerations particular to electronic books and electronic journals.

The guidelines are organized into topics and subtopics that highlight issues relevant to the selection of an electronic publication. A link to a checklist follows each topic. In addition, appendices contain checklists for each topic, information on special considerations for electronic books and journals, approaches to financing electronic publications, and information on contacts and FAQs.

As the guidelines are reviewed and implemented, it is important to note that the selection of electronic publications, like any other electronic resource, presents unique hurdles not encountered with traditional library materials. In addition to the criteria that apply to paper materials, electronic publications raise complicated issues involving networking, pricing, licensing, access and ownership, and rapidly changing industry standards. These issues require the selector to work closely with other departments in the library, especially Information Technology and Acquisitions.

Finally, selectors should note that these guidelines are intended only to sensitize selectors to known issues. The guidelines do not in any way prohibit selectors from purchasing particular electronic publications.