Today: McKeldin Open 24 Hours
Campus ID Required 11pm-8am

Guidelines for Selection of Electronic Publications: Duplication and Substitution

Sometimes it may be appropriate for the selector to replace (substitution) or duplicate a print publication with an electronic one. In such a situation, the selector should take the following factors into account.


Many publishers continue to require the joint purchase of electronic and print subscriptions. Selectors therefore often have no choice but to duplicate a print publication in order to obtain the electronic version. Where a publisher does offer separate electronic purchase, the selector may also elect to provide a publication in both print and electronic formats. A selector may find this appropriate if, for example, the electronic version is not archived, there is a need for different formats to meet the differing needs of user groups, the electronic format offers content not found in print, or there is a cost benefit to providing both formats. Selectors should note, however, that unnecessary duplication of content restricts the Libraries' ability to provide a broad range of information resources. Selectors should weigh carefully the value added by duplication against the cost of lost access to other needed content.


To substitute an electronic publication for its print counterpart, the selector should consider the following:

  • whether there is a need for a permanent format
  • whether the publisher has committed to maintaining the material on a permanent basis, including the Libraries' rights to access any archive upon cancellation of the subscription
  • whether the publisher can ensure uninterrupted access to the publication
  • the reliability of the hardware or software for the electronic format
  • the cost of the respective versions
  • the needs of different groups that access the resource

The selector should also carefully compare the print and electronic versions to ensure that substitution does not compromise content, currency or access. Part of this evaluation should involve an assessment of the quality of the images and graphics in the electronic version.